Oddball Out

My son, Marshall, age 9, and I had a conversation the other night about him being the son of single mom. A friend wants me to talk to her friend, who got inseminated last week. I asked Marshall what I should tell this woman—is it a good idea or not? He said if a woman wants to go ahead and do it, she should. I asked how he felt about being the son of a single mom. And he was honest. He said he felt like an oddball—he’s the only one who doesn’t have a dad (and yes, we do know other SMC families but this is how he sees it). I didn’t get crazy or think I did him wrong. I asked more questions. And he said he’s an oddball because he’s also the only one who had three cats and a snake. So, yes, sometimes, I think he feels like the “only one” and it doesn’t make him feel good, but sometimes, I think it’s just his personality and he’d feel like the odd man out no matter what his situation. I asked if I shouldn’t have done this and he looked like I was a little nuts and said well, if I hadn’t, then he wouldn’t know all he knows about donors and sperm and sex and stuff, so it was fine. (It’s time for me to process all this actually and figure out where we need to go from here, if anywhere.)

9 was a really good year for Marshall and I’m looking forward to 10—so far, so good. He’s gaining more independence and I’m loosening the leash as much as I can and still have us both feel safe. We do enjoy each others’ company and I adore spending time with him. We just did a 10-mile bike ride (well, we did 6) to benefit the non-profit agency I work for. It was hard and he fell a couple of times, but we both came home having had a great time. We love going to the Auto Show every year and are looking forward to ComicCon in October.

I never thought I’d be standing at a little league field having a blast (watching my kid stink but cheering him on), studying up on all kinds of dinosaurs, going on a dinosaur dig in Colorado, hiking (he keeps threatening that he’s going to get me to go camping—I send him to my sister for that!), going to a Beyblade competition, and more.

So oddball or not, this is my kid, my joy, my heart, the one I was meant to parent. And thinking back on my life as a tween, as a teenager, as a young adult, I was kind of an oddball too. I never fit in with cool kids or the sports kids or the total loners. I was tortured in middle school (another story, but basically, they teased and bullied and I cried, therefore I was an easy target)., but in high school, I found my own group of oddballs and so didn’t feel so odd anymore.

I’m hoping the same will happen for Marshall and I’m pretty sure it will. He makes friends easily and he keeps them. There’s a group of them who have been friends so far since they were 3 and in preschool together. And now they all go to different schools, but some share religious school or camp or something. It helps that all the moms are now BFFs.

So here’s to all our oddballs, because in reality, we all feel like the odd person out at some point in our lives. And here’s to helping them figure out that it’s not all bad to be a little different, to be separate from the crowd at the same time that you’re so desperate to be part of it. He feel a out of step at times, but he still walks straight and proud, and that’s something I can smile at.

by Nancy Nisselbaum