The Constant Struggle

The Constant Struggle

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The Constant Struggle

“To be or not to be, that is the question.” Indeed, this is the
question Barbara constantly asks herself, whether or not she has to be
a responsible mom to Jodie, or to try and have a life of her own. In
the short story “Over the Hill” by Lynne Schwartz, Barbara is a single
mother struggling between the difficult tasks of being a mom and of
being a single adult. Barbara faces a dilemma that many other single
parents also faces, and that is their desire to date other people
because they don’t want to be a single parent for the rest of their
lives. However, her responsibility as a single mom doesn’t always
allow her to do that. As a result, Barbara is a responsible, fun
loving mother torn between her duty to her daughter and her need for
adult companionship.

Like many other single parents around the world, the income Barbara
makes is not always enough to take care of her family. Consequently,
being the responsible mom that she is, Barbara is “taking a short
course, one night a week” on bartending along with her friend Pat in
hopes of having a supplementary source of money (pg 208). They think
that they could “make a lot of money on the side doing bartending at
fancy parties” (pg 208). Barbara hopes that her income working as a
“draftsperson in an architect’s office” in addition to the bartending
money she hopes on making will be enough to support her family (pg
208). Although Barbara thinks that “under certain circumstances
abortion might be a good idea”, she did not get an abortion when she
was pregnant with Jodie (pg 209). Why didn’t she get an abortion?
Barbara didn’t get an abortion because she is a dependable person that
takes responsibilities for her own actions, even though she knows that
her life would be utterly transformed when she becomes a single
mother. Although Barbara feels depressed at the end of the night when
she thinks that James isn’t coming over, she still plays her role as
the responsible mother and reminds Jodie that she “should be going to
bed,” because she has a “dentist appointment tomorrow” (pg 217). By
trying to make more money, not getting an abortion when she was
pregnant with Jodie, and reminding Jodie that she has a dentist
appointment the next day even though she’s depressed about James shows
just how dedicated and responsible Barbara is to being a mother.

In addition to being a responsible mother, Barbara is also very fun
loving. She enjoys “fooling around with shakers and glasses like kids

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playing tea party” with Pat when they are practicing mixing drinks (pg
210). The fact that Barbara wears “big hoop earrings”, “junk jewellery
and clunky Frye boots” also shows traces of her fun loving
characteristics (pg 210,211). Barbara enjoys having fun so much that
she even sings while she is mixing a drink. She has to stop singing at
the end because both her and Pat are “collapsing with laughter and
Pat’s rocks are melting all over the kitchen table” (pg 211). Her fun
lovingness even shows through her inviting James and Sam over to drink
the drinks she and Pat had mixed. It is also showed by how she and Pat
are nervous like “two kids waiting for their first date” and talking
about James like “high school seniors” (pg 214, 215). All in all, the
clothes, singing while mixing drinks and inviting her “new boyfriend”
James and his friend Sam over to her apartment shows just how much she
enjoys having fun (pg 209).

Unfortunately, Barbara’s duties as a mother, her fun loving
personality and also her hunger for adult companionship doesn’t always
go well together. Like a responsible mother she talks to her daughter
Jodie about sensitive matters such as sex, “pregnancy” and “the
subject of abortion” (pg 209). Yet her fun loving personality led her
to make a “Grasshopper”, an alcoholic drink for Jodie, who is only
thirteen years old (pg 212). Barbara’s need for adult companionship
also makes her daughter Jodie jealous. It is this jealousy that leads
Jodie into lying to James about her mom not being home. It is quite
obvious that Barbara’s duties as a mother, her fun loving personality,
and also her hunger for adult companionship are a very volatile mix.
This volatile mix could possibly turn Jodie into a jealousy filled
teenager, who could possibly view all her mom’s male friends as
potential enemies. Furthermore, Jodie may even become pregnant and or
become an alcoholic in hopes of receiving Barbara’s attention.

In conclusion, it is quite obvious that like many other single parents
around the world, Barbara is struggling between her duty to her
daughter and her duty to herself. She tries hard to be a responsible
and dedicated mother to Jodie, and at the same time, she tries to live
a fun filled life and maintain a relationship with her boyfriend. This
is a very difficult task for her, because she needs to take both her
and Jodie’s needs into consideration. Both Jodie and her own happiness
depend upon how she handles this delicate matter of love for her
daughter and her own needs and desires.
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