Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Momisms: About the Baby Daddies


Today I am going to do something I rarely ever do. 
I am going to tell you about Jack and Lainie's dads. 
Yes, plural. 
I get asked about them all the time, sometimes subtly in ways like "Oh, your kids....they don't look much alike, do they?" to which I respond "Well, Lainie hasn't really looked the same since her reconstructive facial surgery, you know after that terrible car accident that left her almost completely deformed? If it weren't for the miracles of modern science she'd only have one eye and half a nose." and keep walking. 
Of course Lainie was never in any accident, nor did she ever have face surgery. I just like the way it makes old ladies faces get all twisted in shock and shame, justly teaching them not to meddle in the business of young mothers in the produce section. 
Sometimes I get asked in more obvious, straight forward ways, like "So are you still with their dad? Do they have the same dad? What position did you conceive them in?" 
I have even better responses to those questions, but they're too inappropriate even for here. 
But the point is, people ask, I rarely give a straight answer, at least when my kids are around. I try not to make a big deal of the fact that they have different dads, and I have never ever referred to them as half brother and sister. 
I figure when they start learning about geniology and what not in school, it will become clear enough to them what the labels are. But I don't call them bastards or illegitimate either just because they were born to two unmarried people, so why use some labels but not others, I figure. 

I had Lainie when I was 16, and that is a pretty well known fact by now I think. 
I don't hide it, I don't excuse it, but I don't trash talk it either. 
It is what it is, and to be honest I think I've done damn well for her, all things considered. 
Her dad and I were obsessed with each other when we met in high school. 
I say obsessed, not in love, because that's what it was. Infatuated, consumed, overcome with fleeting, over the top....desire? That sounds porny, and I was 15 at the time, so let's just call it obsession. 
We spent every possible second of the day at school together, hiding off in a corner somewhere together during lunch, ignoring our friends and forsaking whatever rules there might be about PDA at our school, and just pawing the crap out of each other like two disgusting lizards. When I look back on it now, I feel a little sick. 
I was overwhelmed with attention. I know now that James paid so much attention to me because he had nothing and no one else who wanted his time, but at the time it seemed like undying love. I had no idea, no decent example for what undying love should look like. All I had was a bunch of people who only noticed me when it was convenient for them. This was all so new and exciting!
We started dating in October of 2002, and by March 15th of 2003 I had found out I was pregnant with Lainie. 
Long story short, that changed everything. Shocker, I know. The formerly sweet and affectionate and adoring James had become uncaring, cold, withdrawn, not speaking to me for days, snapping at me for no reason, inviting me out with his friends and then ignoring me the entire time. 
While I was in labor he made frequent trips outside to chain smoke his Camels, and kept stepping out of the room to call his friends. 
By the time Lainie was 3 weeks old he'd moved out of me and my dad's house, and back in with his mom.He called less and less, every time he visited all we did was fight. Then finally when she was 2 months old I saw him for the last time, speeding out of his driveway to God knows where, just as I pulled up to drop the baby off for his visit with her. 
I didn't see him again for 7 years. 
Lainie has a relationship with her Grandmother on her dad's side now, but James is still very blase about her existence, which does not escape her notice. 

As for Jack's dad, the embarrassing story is not very romantic, and not very long. 
It's actually somewhat like Knocked Up, except the guy never stops being a douche bag, never grows up and then eventually leaves. 
He was someone I started dating just to get the last guy I was dating to leave me alone. 
Shortly after the first time we slept together, I found out I was pregnant. 
I named Jackson myself, and told Jesse he could stay or go, but whichever decision he made was a forever decision. There would be no back and forth. 
He decided to stay. 
 We tried to make it work, and at first it did. I even thought he was someone I could see myself really loving. But by the time I started showing, he had made the same transformation that James had during my pregnancy with Lainie. He started staying out all night, getting hammered and stumbling in at 4 in the morning, if he came home at all. He was obsessed with video games, sometimes skipping work and at one point losing his job, just to stay home and play more video games. 
He became mean and aggressive, and shortly before the baby came, he got violent. 
I broke up with him, but was 7 months pregnant with nowhere to go. 
As soon as the baby was born, we packed our shit and moved out.
Jesse had less and less of a relationship with Jackson afterward, despite the fact that I encouraged him repeatedly to spend time with his son, sometimes even begging him to take the baby for a day so I could work. 
When Jack was 6 months old, Jesse moved to Minnesota {where he's from}. He's seen Jack 3 times in person since then. Jack will be 4 in May of this year. 

It makes me sad sometimes to think about what these men are missing out on. 
James has never been on a school field trip, never been to Lainie's plays, never tucked her in at night. 
Jesse never saw a single of Jack's firsts. Not his first words, or his first steps, or his first anything. He didn't teach him to throw a ball, or ride a bike. 
My dad, Bill, Jack's Uncle Tony {who isn't blood related to Jack in any way} play bigger roles in these children's lives than their fathers ever had. 
And that just sucks. 
I worry that Lainie will grow up and get pregnant too soon like I did, or chase the wrong men because she wants a father figure. 
I worry that Jack will grow up to be like Eminem, and have all this pent up anger and hatred toward himself, his father and the world. 
Someone asked me once why I didn't just tell them their dads died. 
I thought about it. 
But I never could bring myself to do it. 
Sometimes being a mom all alone to these kids is so hard. So, so hard. And I curse their dads for leaving me to do this by myself. 
There have been days when I wished I knew what it felt like to just not care like that. 
But I know that's not who I am. 
And honestly, most of the time, I'd rather do this alone than do it with either of them. They'd make it harder with their selfishness, their immaturity, their refusal to leave our personal shit out of the kid's lives. They'd make it harder on me, cost me more time, more energy and more work. 
Maybe it's selfish of me, but sometimes I'm glad I'm a single mom, and not trying to co-parent with those men. 
Am I angry? Of course. Does it hurt me when Lainie asks why her dad doesn't spend time with her? Even more than it did when she asked me where he was. Does it kill me when Jack talks about the imaginary Daddy who he made up altogether? Oh, even yesser. 
But I think they'll be ok. 
I think one day, they will realize, like all of us who have an absentee parent have to eventually realize: it's his loss, not mine. 

And I'll tell you one final secret before I go: I saved everything. I saved all of the pictures of me and Lainie's dad, and the few of her and her dad when she was first born. I saved our notes we wrote each other in high school and the necklace he gave me for Christmas, all of it, for Lainie. I saved what little I had of my time with Jack's dad too, for him. 
They won't ever be my boyfriends again, but they'll always be my children's fathers, whether they're absent or not, and my children will always want to know that they left something behind for them. 
So I saved everything. 


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