I’ve been reading essays over at the NY Times archive of Modern Love. I think most of what I write as essays would fit in there. As they say: “know your market.” Two of the most touching essays I read were, “My Husband is Now My Wife,” and “A Lost Child, but Not Mine.”
In writing these essays of mine, I have to really go deep, back to where I was a few, sometimes as many as fifteen, years ago. I have to kind of take a soak in a hot tub of these feelings I have been too busy to feel. I get all pruny and dizzy and then it just kind of bleeds out of me in words or tears or fights with my lover.
Facebook has been a surprising catalyst of late, sort of similar to the writer of “A Lost Child, but Not Mine” who found out that the father of her aborted pregnancy was having a baby with another woman on said abortion’s 3rd anniversary via MySpace. After the Dead Babies post, I’ve been paying slightly closer attention to Pearl’s father’s mother’s facebook page. I noticed she took down her post about the dead babies, after I commented under it simply the word “fraught.” Maybe she also read my rant about Dead Babies. I also noticed that her son, P’s bio dad, has been commenting on her statuses a lot.
On one hand, I’m happy that he seems to be doing well. On another hand, I’m annoyed that he’s frying my mind and soul with all this anger. All these feelings. And then, of all the stupider than stupid things, I saw that he commented on his mom’s status that he was having trouble sleeping last night. I was, too. So initially I thought, “serves him right.” Then I wondered if there’s some kind of psychic reason we’re both having trouble sleeping, or something I’m meant to learn from suddenly being re-exposed to his existence. Which, to be truthful, I’ve done my best not to think about.
I didn’t love the guy. I barely knew him. But he was fun and we had simultaneous orgasms, which seemed significant at the time. Especially since I barely knew him. And I saw a ton of potential there. I feel kind of like I should, passively, all the way over here, cheer him on. He is, after all, somebody else’s kid. And his success increases the odds that he won’t utterly disappoint P when she decides to hunt him down in a few years. I mean, maybe they’ll be able to make something of a friendship or mentorship or some such. When they’re both grown ups.
I overheard Pearl telling her friend the other day, “I don’t have a dad.”
“Why not?” Her friend asked.
“I just don’t. Some people just don’t.” Pearl said, dutifully. Because that’s what I’ve told her.
“But what about Brad?”
“Brad acts like he’s my dad, but he’s not.”
Fortunately, Pearl had this conversation with a little girl whose story is a lot more tragic than Pearl’s. And also fortunately, Pearl has been satisfied so far with very surface, vague answers about her bio dad.
Occasionally, she’ll get a hair up her ass about it. She’ll say, “Is grandpa my dad?” Which always grosses me out, but is a totally logical question, since grandpa is my dad, and the whole generations concept eludes P at present. She’ll say, “Is Uncle Kippy my dad?” Another gross but reasonable question. She’s known Uncle Kippy her whole life.
For other moms in this situation, Here are some of the things I’ve told Pearl about her father. It’s important to me not to pass judgement or valuations of his choices or character to Pearl. I want her to have the freedom to make her own decisions about him. And frankly, I appreciate that he recognized his own limitations. And yes, this has been fucking hard. But having a baby and a childish partner? Thank you, but no thank you. I have had freedoms that other single mothers just don’t get. I feel mostly lucky about the way things have come out.
- Your Dad wasn’t ready to be a father.
- Some people have two dads, or two moms, or only one dad, or only one mom, or a dad and a mom, or a mom and a grandma. There are all kinds of families.
- Brad is not your father, but he takes care of you like he’s your father. He’s part of our family.