As many concerns as I’d had with my ability to raise my newborn son, they had so far not come to fruition. Of course, I couldn’t imagine that I could mess up little Apollo very much at this point. Unless I forgot to feed him or change him (which, I assure you, I never did), there was nothing I could say or do that I could see negatively affecting his childhood too badly.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said about my sweet little Apollo messing up my life. For the most part, we got along well enough. I got him enrolled in a nice little daycare down the street and, a couple times a week, I would drop him off so I could go run my shop. Of course, I longed for a hopefully-near time when I could leave him at home to his own devices; but, at the moment, the daycare was a good solution. It wasn’t impeding my life.
The children at his daycare that, for some reason, weren’t vaccinated, however, were severely impeding my lifestyle.
Children are tiny little germy monsters, I’ve decided. Especially those children that like to stick their hands in your mouth, or their fingers up your nose. It’s like they’re designed to facilitate the easy spreading of illness.
I tried to ignore it at first.
But the more I moved—even in the tiniest degrees—the more the tiny little blemishes that spotted my entire body gave me problems. Some were even chafing, where the elastic band of my shorts lay tight around them, and were simultaneously itching and burning.
Blasted little germ hoarders.
Luckily, I knew a guy (from the shop, of course) who could get me some meds at a discreetly lowered cost (just as I had gotten that woohoo swing for him and his mistress discreetly).
Without the antibiotics, of course, I would have be itching until my skin fell off or I died of the fever. As it was, I was walking around with those itchy and chafing blemishes for weeks.
I did not like Apollo’s daycare. Not in the least.
But it was necessary.
I didn’t know a lot about parenting, per se, but I knew some. I knew, for instance, that money was necessary to buy diapers and baby food and bottles and breast pumps. This meant, naturally, that I needed to make money for diapers and baby food and bottles and breast pumps. I still had some savings leftover from my mother’s legacy, but it was dwindling quickly, between bills and the costs of running the shop.
So there was no way around leaving Apollo at the daycare. I had to be able to go to work and, with no father or extended family in the picture… It was a necessary evil.
On the plus side, I was getting better at running B’s. I was figuring out how to balance my funtimes and my business, reserving flirting for a tool to entice purchases rather than as an outlet for my own stress. There were no more conversations consisting only of innuendo and cheesy pick-up lines; instead, I was all about pushing the merchandise.
So it turned out that having a son was, in some ways, for the better. He was motivation, after all.
See? All in the name of business. And it was really having an effect on my profit margins, which was a relief. I was concerned, for a bit, that I would need to sell some of my mother’s things in order to keep paying the bills. Instead, I was managing on my own.
For some reason, that also felt really good to me. Managing on my own. The people around town gave me these horrible looks all the time. When I was out with Apollo, they judged my look and my age, thinking that I was too young, too irresponsible, or whatever, to raise a kid. When I was out by myself, they thought I was too young, too irresponsible, or whatever, to even be on my own. To support myself. They all thought I needed a parent in my life, or a sister, or a cousin. Mostly, they all thought I needed a husband.
“That poor child,” I’d hear them whisper, as I walked back from the grocery store with frozen vegetables and baby formula in one arm, Apollo in the other. “What is he going to do without a male influence in his life?”
“Well,” someone else would reply, “with a mother like that, I’m sure he’ll have plenty of male influences in his life. Just none that are good, and none that will stick around. And really, I’d be more concerned about the negative female influence he’ll be getting. No one can turn out decent with a mother like that.”
Just because I was young. Just because I liked to have a little fun.
But I was responsible, dammit. I could be responsible.
And being successful in the shop? Making money?
I had a strange sense of glee, now, walking past them on the street. They could say whatever the hell they wanted, but I knew that I was proving them wrong.
Thinking back to a few months before, when I had been so uncertain in my own judgement—it appalled me, almost. Sure, I had been disgustingly large (and could still stand to lose a few pounds of that baby weight, from my perspective), but why had I ever doubted my own abilities? My own mind? Just because my body was inadequate doesn’t mean that the rest of me was. And I was working on my body, anyway.
I was back to eating salad for almost every meal.
I was back to doing yoga, getting my abs toned and slimmed.
It wasn’t as urgent as before. After all, I wasn’t disgusting. I could just stand to lose a little of the front from the baby (the doctor said it was just my body shape, that my organs were there, not fat, but what did he know. He also said I shouldn’t lose weight while pregnant, and look how that turned out for me!).
Anyway, the point was, I was getting to a point where I was marginally successful. And I was damn proud of it. And the haters could go to hell.
I was going to raise my baby, and take care of the both of us. And I was doing it by owning a lingerie store and having fun by flirting and woohooing and kissing. And there was nothing wrong with that.