Identity Series: Sins of the Father

The most crushing blow after my relationship with my second child’s father fell apart was that I knew my identity would be forever altered. On paper I was just another statistic…when I fought so hard not to be. I am a black woman with two children with different fathers. Different last names. Different hair. I wake up in the morning and force myself to look in the mirror. “Chin up, this is your life and you are NOT a statistic.” 

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I fight against it on all levels but the major thing I fight against daily is being the baby mama that brings the drama. The romantic relationships I had with my children’s fathers did not end well, and that’s putting it lightly. I have to constantly remind myself that it’s a problem that remains the business of myself and those two men—it has NOTHING to do with our children. This is a bit embarrassing for me to write but I have to be real and transparent about where my mind took me and how I got out of it.

The Divorce

 I will say it until I am blue in the face, I do not believe in divorce. I am still shocked that this is where I am and something that I’ve experienced but it’s certainly undeniable at this point in time. We did things the right way, my ex husband and me. We fell in love, we made vows and went home together to start our little family. It was beautiful. He was excited about the pregnancy, attentive and helpful, then overjoyed upon her arrival into this world. We raised that little girl together for the first 3 years, laughing with her and at her, changing her diapers, doctors appointments, potty training, play dates, etc. We created very solid memories of us together raising this little girl.

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Things fell apart between us. Our marriage was no longer working and some hard decisions had to be made. I left with toddler in tow.

There Will Be Blood

When I left, I hardly left a trail of peace behind me. I was fucking angry. I was left alone to raise my daughter on my own and I wanted vengeance in the form of the house, the car—hell, I’ll take the little mole on the side of your cheek, too! I arranged for him to come get her every other weekend and beyond that I wanted no communication. Co-parenting? No, thank you. I don’t care what you do when she is with you because I don’t want to talk to you for two seconds longer than I have to. I took on so many unnecessary burdens because my anger made me petty. I was doing it all! It was absolutely killing me waking up at 4:45 in the morning to start the day and coming home lonely but hustling for this child—because that’s what it was all about. I marched to the motherfucking sound of Independent Ladies and was the first one to throw my hands up to it. YES, that was me. 

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Image from: Waiting to Exhale Movie

I was a crazy baby mama. My refusal to address my ex-husband as a human being ruined any chance we had toward healthy communication regarding the welfare of our child. I didn’t even realize until almost a year later that he missed her and was more comfortable with a joint custody set up instead of the every other weekend slot I had decided to fit him into. Furthermore, I had to realize that I was dealing with a bit of jealousy that I had to let go. For some reason my mind begged the question, “How can he have so much love for a little person that we created together and have none for me?” I blamed him big time for the separation of our family but in my quest to punish him I realized that in the long run I would only be punishing our little girl. 

The Worst Laid Plans

The second time around did not begin as blissfully as the first. I was in and out of an uncommitted romantic involvement and suddenly found myself pregnant. I was not ready to add to my family—I wasn’t even sure the definition of my family at the time. We were in love but we knew we weren’t compatible enough to make things last with just us, much less adding a baby to the mix. I was scared and resentful and still mourning the demise of my marriage. I funneled my emotions and became downright volatile. I spent most of my second pregnancy alone, suicidal and in counseling contemplating whether I should endanger the pregnancy by finally submitting to taking anti-depressants. I could barely afford my life as it was and I was barely hanging on to my mental faculties.

Her father couldn’t be there for me in the way that I needed. Fuck it, I’m done. He was young and naïve and managed to do every single thing wrong. I shared my thoughts with him on the situation, wrote him off and lapsed into a cold silence. He ran away and he stayed away. After she was born I knew that when he did finally come to get her that he probably paraded her around his many “female friends” and it broke my heart. Just as I knew that when he said he was going to come see her and couldn’t make it for whatever reason that this would just be a pattern of disappointment in her life that I would have to explain to her over and over again. He hurt me, he was hurting me and he would hurt her. He needed to be held accountable to me before I could trust him with her. If he can’t love and show respect for me as her mother, there was no way he could do the same for her.

Wrong again

It hurts my pride to admit it even today, but I was wrong. I had to get a grip and relinquish control. Like it or not I had created a little life with this man and I had to just let things be. When she goes with him I have no control over what happens when I am not there. If I didn’t trust his judgment I never should have lay with him in the first place. I needed to stop projecting all of his romantic shortcomings onto his father/daughter relationship with her. We’re all human beings, free to do what we want. No amount of nagging or cursing or nastiness coming from me was going to change that. At some point you just have to choose to live your life and let chips fall where they may. The sins—real or perceived—that the fathers of my children committed against me, has nothing to do with their role as Dad in their children’s lives. I was failed by a husband and a lover… I cannot speak to their abilities as fathers.

I give props to single mothers all day everyday…but one thing I won’t do is pretend that I can provide things that only a father can. You will never find me giving shout outs to single moms on father’s day…because we can’t be fathers. I love my mother and I respect her as a woman, look up to her, even. But she can tell me I’m pretty all day and that means nothing to me unless it comes from my Dad. I have been a dork all my life and a large reason why it has never bothered me as much is because my Dad loved me for who I was. He would always ask about the latest book I was reading, have me improvise music on my clarinet because he loved to hear me play, and have me read aloud during bible study because he loved the sound of my voice. I have been very blessed to have my Dad in my life and it would be a shame for me to deny that to my daughters because I’m batshit crazy and have my issues of hurt and rejection. Sure, they can make it through this life with only me as their parent, but as long as their fathers are alive I’m not alone in raising them. 

I know what I have to do as a person and as a parent, so I focus on that. My daughters are with me the majority of the time, I know I need to provide for them, do their hair, play with them, bathe them and love them because that is my job as their mom. I coordinate with their fathers and we talk about what’s best for them when necessary but it’s not my job to micromanage their interactions with their fathers. If Daddy disappoints and if Daddy lacks it is not my job to say I told you so or use it as a tool of wrath against them. It’s my job to comfort my little girls and remind them that these men were once loved by Mommy very much, and they will never hear me say a negative word against them.
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