George and I had time to talk on the car ride home from Thanksgiving. He told me a story about the night before. He saw the new James Bond film with his cousins and two of his uncles.
First he explained the plot of the movie- George highlighted the new OO7 who is a black woman. He said the film did a good job of combatting naysayers who might say that only a man could be a James Bond.
After the movie, during parking lot banter, George and his uncles discussed the movie.
Uncle A- who do you think will replace Daniel Craig? I’ve seen every James Bond ever made and I think this actor and that actor would be good choices. (George did not remember the names of actors.)
George- The next James Bond is the black woman that was just in the movie we saw.
Uncle A- James Bond can’t be a woman. If a woman replaces James Bond, I won’t watch that movie. This is the last movie series that really features a man. They cannot get rid of James Bond. I will not see a James Bond movie if he is replaced by a woman.
George- Well, you are going to be sorely surprised because that is what is happening. The black woman in the film is the new OO7.
Uncle B- I hope Daniel Craig’s character is still alive. I think he is coming back in the next film.
George – He blew up and exploded into the sky and his island was burned. He isn’t coming back. He is being replaced by the black woman in the film.
Uncle A- There is going to be a new guy. There is no way James Bond will be a woman.
Uncle B- I think Daniel Craig might come back.
And in George’s retelling of the past night’s conversation, I feel such joy and gratitude that I am a single mom. Or at least an unmarried mom without a man interfering in my parenting. What a gift for my children to live in a house with no white male patriarch. What a crazy beautiful shift in the paradigm of recent history. Like an anthropological gift to be unmarried and mothering. I am so lucky.
The country and maybe the world knows how lucky my sisters and married women in nuclear households are. The nuclear family has quartz countertops, recently purchased vehicles, housekeepers, back yards. Not to mention a physically present person to share the load of parenting and Christmas tree decorating. Another person to yell “Go to bed” or another person to pick up some milk at the store.
(I’m not saying this is the lived experience of many married women who are co parenting with their husbands. I am aware of the injustice that women shoulder most of the parenting, most of the homemaking and full time jobs. But in theory, he could help.)
In a single mom’s group on Facebook, a woman was talking about a recent need for another person when putting a Christmas tree in the ever loving stand. This tradition requires two people- and her four year old did not count. I know the difficulty and the HARD life of parenting solo.
The world may pity me or look down on me and single mothers. Or maybe my extended family may think – she sure has it rough. But, me- I’m thankful. The world is changing. George, my 19 year old son can see the truth.
Years ago, when George was two years old, we gathered with family friends on the Mesa in Santa Barbara, CA. The kids were playing on the playground above the Pacific and the women chatted and pushed swings while the men lingered in the grass field talking. When we came back together, the men said “Did y’all feel that earthquake?” I laughed in relief and so did my friend April. When we had individually felt the rumble and shift of the earth, we had each assumed that we were having morning sickness and so we must be pregnant again. It didn’t occur to April or I that it was an outside force. Given our recent pregnancies, our lived experience, it made sense to assume morning sickness.
Given Uncle A and Uncle B’s lived experience as white males in the United States, it is unfathomable for them to imagine Daniel Craig being replaced by a woman. According to George, the film was clear that James Bond was dead and a black woman is the new OO7. But, apparently that does not compute for his uncles.
I am not the only influence in George’s life. He is surrounded by sisters. He is seemingly naturally compassionate and empathetic and thoughtful and not the towel whipping locker room type. He is part of a new generation that has seen women run corporations and countries. He thinks people will like the new OO7 who is a woman because the character is basically the same. Just a different gender. I cannot claim to be the bestower of all wisdom and fairness for George.
Five years ago, when I found out Walt my husband of 19 years had been cheating for 7 of those glorious years, I never imagined I would be thankful to be divorced. I did not imagine that I would feel lucky to parent solo in my little condo. I am the lucky one. I get the children in my life. I get to share my home with them. What a gift my children have to be in a family not run by the traditional patriarch. To avoid the American dream of two kids and a mother and a father. To have an opportunity to see the beauty of different. To feel the wealth of less than. To view family life from the perspective of a woman.
***It has been noted by even some of my favorite people that I do not like men. This post appears to confirm that assumption. It is hard for me to disagree with that generalization. I grew up using my babysitting money to buy Bride Magazine. I believed in Prince Charming and Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle. For at least a dozen years, my dreams came true. I loved and felt love from a wonderful husband and we had wonderful little babies. We had a picket fence and climbing roses. And then, when I got divorced, I could not see a future for myself. I did not even know what to dream. So I came up with the ten year plan. For ten years, I would figure out what I wanted for my new future. I would lay new foundations. I would formulate new wishes and new visions of happiness. I am half way through my ten year plan. I am so proud of myself and who I am becoming. I love the mom I am. I am so lucky to be a librarian with wonderful co-workers. I write. I take pictures. I am a friend. And I practice taking deep breaths in and out. I pray that one day deep breathing will come naturally to me. That I will believe I am enough exactly like I am. I don’t think about hating men. I don’t hate Walt. I had to rebuild over a lifetime of traditional dream. I am relearning my value. A woman’s worth.