I get asked, “Are you going to have more children” a lot. I don’t mind answering it’s too complicated for a cut and dry no so I start talking about how Ev would love a sibling but I really can’t justify it right now or rationally any point in the future. Every now and again a fellow mother will respond with,
“My oldest child was a single child for ___ years. The whole time all they begged me for was a brother(s) or sister(s)*. So, I found a man**, got married and had __ children. They love their siblings but they still aren’t happy. There’s nothing you can do to give them what they want.”
A couple of weeks ago that exact conversation happened at the pool and ended with. “Well now she’s 19, moved out of the house and I have a 2 and 4 year old that she see’s once a month or less and only refers to them as my kids”.
*Ev personally wants 100 sisters, no brothers. We’re still crunching the numbers…
**I don’t completely buy that that woman ran out and rustled up the most convenient man to settle down with and start popping out playmates for her oldest. But what I do think is like all single mothers she felt inadequate. She felt like she started a family, the circumstances of the failure are irrelevant, all that matters is that she failed. Other than the desperate women who resort to one night stand “gotcha babies“, here’s an instructional guide if that’s your bag. [Sane] Women do not get pregnant and follow it up with a cozy I’m going to raise this child by myself declaration. It’s not how we’re wired biologically. It makes no practical sense. If you’ve ever had to figure out rent, gas, groceries and $700 worth of daycare a month on once income then you understand. But more than the money and logistics of what in the f am I going to do when little Timmy catches the flu and I can’t find a babysitter, it’s a matter of the heart.
So we set about the world recovering emotionally from the truth of our failed relationship or our failure at planning, clad in the abundant love and joy that our child brings to this world, searching for a partner.
This time we’re looking for keeps.
Here’s the dichotomous nature of those intentions. Everyone in the position to comment on your life, has a million opinions about who you should date… marry and how that should manifest. For me all of the ineligible bachelors thought hey you’re attractive can’t you just bat your eyes, wave a magic wand and find a sugar daddy? Okay, sugar daddy isn’t really PC but let’s be real you need to get P-A-I-D, killing two birds with one stone. Go on, just bibbity boppity boo already, treat yo self.
Some thought. Oh courageous one. Your life is so cute with just you and your daughter. It’s basically like having a sleep over every night and someone to love you unconditionally. Now, let’s be honest a solid man comes around once in a blue moon, let’s not exhaust yourself finding him. Just be content. If it’s meant to happen then it will, but seriously though your like the poster child for cute single parenthood. Why would you want to miss that photo op?
It’s true we’re fucking adorable with or with out a man or father in our life. But do you want to know what is also true. At the time that I took this picture, I was working full time, going to school full time, living with my mother (a state of existence that no adult should have to endure… love you mom but God damn we do not function under the same roof), I was exhausted, lonely, stressed and very unfulfilled. I was also a crappy mother because of all of those things. Ev was shuffled around between me, my mom and her dad’s parents. Nothing was stable for her. Yet, I was doing the damn thing for her sake. To make a better life for her. Here’s the trouble in making a better life, the future may very well be exponentially worse than the present despite your best efforts. We have to invest in the present. That’s all we’re guaranteed.
I didn’t know that then. I’m barely learning that now.
Back to my point so you have two camps:
1-find a man, let him fix it all
2- Come on girl rally, read some Virginia Woolf gather your mothering instincts up and fearlessly trudge into the future without the worry of a man
Maybe that works for you. It doesn’t me.
I hesitate to call myself co-dependent. I don’t need a man. But I am my best self when I’m in a healthy happy relationship. I am the best version of Momma that I can be when I have the support of a caring partner. I’ve known this for all of my adult life, I can’t suppress the need or fill the void with something else when it’s missing.
I went about my life looking for a compromise.
Here’s the conundrum. At least in my age bracket you can’t very well go out to a club and proposition someone to be your surrogate baby daddy. Well you can and then systematically have every man in the place slowly back away and then run. So instead you put on your heals that you’re liable to break your neck in, you find some perfume labeled sex kitten in lieu of the pheromones that you should actually be roller balling all over your body. And you go out. The selection of potential male suitors is always grim if you’re as picky as I. If your efforts aren’t entirely in vain you’ll find one guy that’s worth nestling up to the bar with. You’ll give him doe eyes and exaggerated laughs at things that probably aren’t funny. Maybe you’ll take a few too many shots and fuck him that night. Maybe you’ll take the high road and simply exchange numbers.
Best case scenario you’ll exchange snap chats and quips about sports or some shit that you’re not even vaguely interested in. If your lucky you will be offered a real date like you’re a real girl. At which maybe you’ll break the I have a little babushka ice. You slip it into the conversation over the appetizer like so,
“Hhahahahha, ohh that’s funny. Speaking of funny things earlier today my daughter said the darnedest thing. Hahaha”. Ohhh solemn face. What? I didn’t look like I have kids. Was that on account of my still intact vagina? Or because I don’t have a ‘mom’ haircut? I’m a little confused. But really having a kid is no big deal. Hopefully one day soon I’ll feel comfortable enough to introduce you two. You’re going to love her, she’s brilliant, funny, charismatic. Basically the most incredible human to grace this earth….”
“Well except that she’s going to want you to die. Absolutely die. It doesn’t matter if you bring her lollipops or a unicorn your still an intruder. A “new one” and she doesn’t like your type. But then you’ll overcome that and we can buy a cute little bungalow and ride bikes to the farmers market on Saturdays and go on vacations every summer. She’s really a blessing in disguise. I mean shit. I didn’t mean to say any of that out loud. What I really meant is , like, basically she’s like a puppy. She just wants to play and she naps a lot and totally doesn’t get in the way. You won’t actually have to be her father, she already has one, you’ll just have to come over for ice-cream and say hi. Then we can have sex. It’ll be great.”
That was not an exaggeration. That conversation is so painful. Straddling the line(s) of
-I’m inherently flawed because I have a child(ren)
-I still have to present my self as a completely self-sustaning single parent
-convincing them that they are primarily going to be a romantic partner to me and just vaguely a part of the kids life
is some kind of shitty position.
I used to fantasize about meeting a single dad at the park whose ex-wife had ran off with the circus leaving him with his 1 or 2 children. He would be so stoked to have serendipitously found me. We would start this beautiful stock photo worthy blended family. It would be magic.Despite all of the hours logged on park benching, prince charming never swept Ev and I off of our feet. So, I was forced to improvise.
My solution. Date older men that already know me in the context of being a mother. Bammm awkward conversation (it’s bigger than a conversation, maybe life proposal) adverted. This way they would know before the first wink and smile what they were getting themselves into. [Read here about how my daughter is not and will never be baggage.]
What happened? Well, the plan wasn’t fool proof. There were a couple of less than great decisions that I made in relationships. But they were part of my journey in discovering what I needed in a relationship and what I had to give. Why did I stumble so many times? Because they weren’t ready. And because they weren’t my one.
Finally my ode to Father’s Day.
The other day I wrote about how pragmatic that J and I were about our relationship at first. Maybe I was being slightly unfair in my depiction of how our relationship started. We were both really cautious. With good reason we had just come out of really fucked up relationships, we lived in different states and there was a child involved. At one point early on we exchanged these excerpts from emails (modern day romance, am I right?)
[This isn’t really relevant BUT float into my lap like a dandelion…. put a fork in me]
Do you know what its like to search for love for years? To grind and toil over it, sweat and labor searching for it, getting knocked down again and again until one day it just floats into your lap like a dandelion in the breeze? Sometimes I think you’re a mirage, and that I’m still in the desert, deliriously chasing a figment of my own imagination, but in reality stumbling to my own death. [He goes on to sugarcoat likening me to death and then:]
I don’t even think about my future anymore. I think about ours. My short goals all revolve around getting to you. My long goals all revolve around taking care of us…of building a family with you.
I don’t know how to say this without sounding like an asshole. So, I guess I’ll preface it with in my heart of hearts I feel like you are different. But, every guy that falls in love with me sings the same song— your the greatest girl in the whole world, I’m going to marry you, here I have the stars and the moon tucked in my pocket just for you—-. Granted you say it the most beautifully and the most convincingly. There’s a part of me that feels like I’m just having déjà vu. That somewhere between early infatuation and the doldrums of a ruined love, you’ll realize that I am not Helen but merely a siren. Thus far everyone has destroyed their ship on my shores. Regardless of how much of that was their own doing it’s still hard to watch. To have no mercy. To withhold the urge to save the next poor fella from himself. From me.
I love your pragmatism. I’m a mess, your a wreck but that’s just human being-ness. And let me be equally pragmatic. I don’t think ur a Godess or siren…I have no pedestal to prop you up on. And I also fear the bottom. But I don’t fear you. All of my fears are the ghosts of relationships past hahaha. It takes quite an effort to remind myself to keep the past in the past.
And I’m certainly not promising you the moon, the stars…green clovers, blue diamonds or any other lucky charms 🙂 My head is not in the clouds, my feet are firmly planted. What I know is pretty simple.
I enjoy us.
But I do have one fear about us, just one. I don’t fear Ever, I don’t fear the possibility of putting my goals on hold to help you achieve your grad school dreams. My only fear is removing the distance buffer….
Well let me assure you. I know exactly what i’m getting myself into with you.
My response 14 months later
I fell in love with your words before I fell in love with you. Can you blame me? Those emails were like reading a well written romance novel were I was the lead character. [ Pro-tip fellas girls dig that shit, unless you can’t make coherent sentences than spare us.]
I don’t actually think that either of us had any idea about what we were getting into. We didn’t anticipate having an incredibly intense summer in Lawrence that was anything but the picture-esq get away that we had dreamed. We didn’t anticipate that I would drive away at the end of July with no hope that you were actually ever going to move to New Mexico. We didn’t anticipate how hard it was for all of us when you got here.
We didn’t anticipate all of the disagreements. We didn’t realize how intense it was going to be to find middle ground to parent Ev from. I don’t think that you anticipated that you were going to have to be such an unwavering pillar for me and that little girl. We didn’t anticipate how intense our love for each other would be. We didn’t anticipate how much fun we would have together. And we also didn’t anticipate how easily that we could both bring each other to our emotional knees. That’s the magic and might in resonating so deeply with each other.
Having/being a family then seemed like a buzz word. It sounded nice. We weren’t living it. We weren’t fighting for it. I’m still not sure if we know for sure what we’ve gotten our selves into.
But I do know that this is the greatest love of my life. In it’s multifaceted dimensions. Sharing an existence with my two soul mates is trial and error but always the greatest privilage. Day and night, last minute runs to the pharmacy, bed time stories, cheers from the crowd as our baby crosses the stage, staying up way past bedtime, report cards, dance recitals, discipline, breakfast lunch and dinner. All day, every day. We are a family. You’ve made us that.
We’ll forever be making it. Together. Happy Father’s Day, I’m so happy that we’ve found us.