“Even when my hand is bigger than your hand, I’ll still hold it” he once told me.
Things are strained between my son and I, and I’m uncertain of what to do.
“You’re afraid that he won’t like you.” One friend said.
Yeah I am.
That little boy who reached out with his tiny hands, “Up!”
That little boy who fell asleep on my chest – as I stroked his impossibly blonde hair out of his eyes.
The boy I played games with.
The boy I wanted to please with every ounce of my heart.
I didn’t want him to lose out – feel different. Having only me.
The young man who only 2 years ago turned and waved as he walked up the dirt road to the school bus stop.
The young man who would tell me everything that hurt him – share his hopes and dreams.
Of course I want him to like me.
But it feels like it’s all gone.
I blinked and became redundant.
His priorities are askew – not focusing on school nor work – he is not following the house rules which are only a few.
It was so long ago that I was ‘momma’.
I barely see him now.
I don’t hear what is hurting him.
I don’t know anymore what his hopes are – or dreams.
“Why is he treating me this way? I made sure to do everything different. Do everything right.”
I lamented to a fellow mom yesterday.
“I remember being so excited to run home with a craft I made at school to show my mom, I remember it being so important to me to find just the right present for her at Christmas time. He has never really been that way toward me.”
“Maybe you were too nice” she said.
And it dawned on me, that in overcompensating, maybe my son never had to feel like he needed to earn my love or approval.
I mean, of COURSE he never had to earn my love but you know what I mean.
I still find myself wanting my mom to be proud of me. Even at 45. I make something, or accomplish something noteworthy, the first person I want to show it to – is her.
“Like me! Like me!” My inner child always seeking approval.
I always let my son know he was my favorite person on the planet. Is that where I went wrong?
Should I have spanked him? Not played video games with him? Not snuck him out of school (when his grades were good) for a fun rare day playing hooky?
Should I have not been so candid about life as he grew?
Being mom and dad was a weird line to straddle. From baseball to condoms – driving lessons to shaving – I taught it all.
I tried not to yell, to forgive quickly. Knowing that if anything ever happened to him, I would regret every sour word.
But in doing that – I clearly did not instill any healthy fear. I did not gain respect and have not been taken seriously.
And every day – my “Up!” boy is slipping away.
And his hands are so much bigger than mine – and so far from holding.
I drove away from the event center last night where my son had just graduated, alone.
I had a Gwen Stefani CD in the CD player and I felt a shift as the coin of acceptance dropped and I belted out “Ain’t no Hollaback Girl” along with Gwen.
Everything felt just … right.
Nic left the event with his girlfriend, my parents left together and I left with a smile on my face.
I have been so scared of the rapid changes in the dynamics of my relationship with Nic this past year! I needn’t have been.
Here I was worrying about where I would fit in his life. Here (Literally right here) I was worrying whether or not I’d done enough for him – done the right things by him.
Then, in the parking lot right after graduation, he picked my mom up in a hug and then shook my dads hand, and POOF! The worry dissipated.
I mentally dusted my hands with a ‘well, that’s-that then’ resolve, and a peace settled in.
It was sort of like hearing your little one say “thank you” without being prompted for the first time, or seeing them hold the door open for someone (Okay, I still feel a surge of pride when he does those things.)
In a single moment, I glimpsed Nic, the young man, and I was simultaneously proud of him and awash with an odd sensation of freedom. Freedom from worry.
When I got home, (after uploading a bazillion photos to my ipad and managing to blow my icloud memory out of the sky) I had a little time alone to reflect.
And in reflecting I was SO grateful!
I thought about all the people who had a hand, directly or indirectly, in raising my son with me.
Yes, I’m a single mom, but a whole slew of people have been instrumental in the successful rearing of my child. (And now I’m cracking up thinking of the quote from ‘Knocked Up’: Jay: I’m going to be there to rear your child. Jason: You hear that, Ben? Don’t let him near the kid, he wants to rear your child!)
I was completely filled with appreciation and memories. Gratitude and love.
I wanted to thank every single person individually. There are people who don’t even realize how much of an impact they had on my journey as a mom.
So I try to tell people who touch my life that they have. I try to remember to thank and acknowledge the people I love, the people who love me back – and the people who love Nic.
And in that moment, when Nic had my mother in his arms – and my dads hand in his – I knew he was doing the same thing.
For all my growth and new maturity (I say with a modicum of sarcasm) I thought I had let go of a certain resentment. It became very apparent that I have not relieved myself of it – after a couple of small kicks to the teeth last night.
So I’m breaking one rule of confidentiality and I’m going to talk about someone. Oh yeah, I’m gonna. Gird your loins.
I’m even putting a photo up … so other women can take heed. I did blur out the other person in the pic (see, I do still have an edit button.)
Nic and I were chatting about his ‘donor’ I won’t give him the noble title of ‘Father’ or ‘dad’ he earned neither.
There is a catchy song on the radio by an entertainer named Mackelmore. When I looked this song up, I was surprised to find he resembled said ‘donor’ when I knew him in the clubs. Only, donor had darker blonde hair and a leather jacket. But, similar looking. See below. That is Mackelmore.
Damien Lewis also reminds me of a young version of donor
I wanted to compare to be sure – as it’s been over 18 years since I saw ‘donor’ young.
I went onto Facebook where I am friends with ‘donors’ mother. I use the term ‘friend’ loosely. I think we only chatted twice. Once she actually asked me to send pictures of Nic? Um …. It’s Facebook – I have a WHOLE BUNCH of photo albums chock-a-block full of pictures of Nic. Click on them woman!
There were 3 pictures of donor in her album. So I typed her name and … nothing. She had unfriended me!!!
Now, the last message I sent to her was just before Nic turned 18. basically saying that it would be the last time I reached out and made an effort. I’ve had this notion from the get go that just because donor didn’t want to be in his son’s life, didn’t mean I should punish Nic’s paternal grandparents. I took him to meet his paternal grandmother as a newborn. She didn’t want to hold him. I took him to say good-bye when I was about to move to Nevada when Nic was in 2nd grade. They took a few Polaroids. The second visit before we left town was met with donor on the couch. (Gee, thanks for giving me the heads up that my son is about to meet his donor with no preparation.)
That was the first and only time that donor and son ever met.
I recall he took Nic out onto the playground as I waited nervously – he introduced him to everyone as his son and then showed him his DJ equipment at his apartment (same complex).
That was it.
I left town and never saw him again. Never pressed for child support. Never contacted him. He made it very clear he did not want to be a father – so be it.
Now, his mom not only unfriended me … but blocked me. And that ticked me off.
It’s one thing to be a deadbeat dad, but what grandparent doesn’t want to know their grandchild?!?!
If a girl came to me holding a baby and saying it was my sons child – I’d have quite a chat with Nic. Did you have sex with this girl? If so – then there IS a chance this is your child. If you do not believe that to be the case, initiate tests to determine the truth. If it is your child, step up and provide for that child. Emotionally and financially.
Was there ever a conversation about Nic between them I wonder?
So I’m sore about being ‘dissed’ by grandma. Nic says he’ll find him and we start searching the net. He announces “I FOUND HIM!” My boy is a funny guy … on his ipad, in the google search box were just the words “Dead Beat Dad”. Ha ha.
I entered his name … and did find him.
It wasn’t until I saw his smiling, carefree face that I realized how angry I still am.
Not only smiling and carefree, but evidently quite the avid fisherman now (AND reviewing expensive rods and reels on Amazon. That’s just super that you have extra money to spend on your hobby there champ!)
Here is the photo: He’s on the left
I wanted to punch him in the face. I wanted that fish to suddenly pull a Monty Python “I’m not dead yet!” and bite his pointing finger off.
The frustration that I feel seeing him enjoying his life when he walked away from his responsibilities is beyond my ability to describe.
I have been angry a lot of today.
I have to stop – drop and roll. No, that’s for something else …
I have to stop. Breathe. Look at fact.
- I chose not to pursue financial assistance from this man, knowing Nic’s life would be better for not having him in it
- It is donors loss not knowing Nic
- I don’t know if his life has been easy or enjoyable from 1 photo
- I don’t know that he wasn’t eaten by that fish …
What I do know is I have more forgiving to do. Because I’m not there yet on this one.
On a happy note – Nic isn’t phased by any of this. I don’t know where he gets his resilience, but I’m glad he has it. I also hope he has bail money should I ever bump into donor in the future.
Obviously a large part of my blog – and giant chunk of my life is the fact that I’m a single mom.
Just because you have children and got a divorce does not make you a ‘single parent’. Yes, it makes your marital status ‘single’, but you’re not raising your children alone.
That’s one of my pet peeves – someone trying to relate with ‘yeah! I’m a single mom too!’
No you’re not, your children have a father in their lives, who they spend time with and who contributes both financially and emotionally to their upbringing! You have someone to talk to, bounce things off of and who takes some of the load off of your shoulders.
But I digress.
My sons ‘donor’ was a rave DJ who I was quite taken with. His nick name was Odie. We met in a club he had James Dean hair, misfits leather jacket and beautiful blue eyes. 3 months later we broke up and I informed him I was pregnant.
Have to give him credit for his honesty – he did not want to be a father. And, (I quote) if you ever try for child support, I’ll quit my job and move in with my parents.
Well – at least I knew where I stood. And in 17 years, I have never ‘tried for child support’. In my opinion, anyone who does not want to be a part of my funny, kind, smart, beautiful sons life, doesn’t deserve to be. And I do not want their money.
I spat out the bitter pill rather than swallow it and when my son was born, and with a proud and sunny disposition I let his paternal grandparents know they had a grandson. There’s a lot to be said for genes – because after one meeting, apparently they did not want to be his grandparents either.
That’s fine. The way I see it, it’s sad really because they have truly missed out. I look at my son as the best gift I have ever received and so I have gratitude for their existence at least. OK, at best.
I’ve tried never to have a bad word to say about his dad. I didn’t want him thinking that a part of him was ‘bad’.
Lately, I’ve been seeing his dad in him. He has those beautiful blue eyes and some of his idiosyncrasies mirror his bio’s. Like sticking out his tongue when he’s really concentrating. It’s interesting – as they’ve only met once, almost 9 years ago.
But I digress. Today as we were laughing and chatting (he was doing a spot on imitation of Consuela, the maid from Family Guy) I said ‘we SO get us’. Our brand of humor is kind of out there and he makes me laugh ALL the time. He responded with, “well, I do have your genes – of course we ‘get’ us”.
I mentioned that lately he’s been looking a lot like Odie. I told him that was a good thing though – as he was a good-looking man. I then had to explain why he was named after Garfield’s canine friend. He wasn’t the shiniest marble in the marble bag. We went on to compare things in common with each other – our hands, our humor – but I was realizing he really doesn’t look so much like me. (Ask anyone else and they’ll say he does – but they haven’t met his other set of genes).
My son was stuck on the marble thing – and comes out with, “So why am I smart?” It took a second … sunk in … and with mock horror I gave him ‘the look’. I saw what he did there.
Who knows where he got his brain from. Perhaps it was me – and I just muddled it up with past debauchery.
I wonder about that sometimes … how smart could I be if I had NEVER taken a single drug or sip of alcohol? My poor brain cells!
I am smart enough to know how blessed I am to be the mother of an amazing young man.
Someone recently told me I was ‘sacrificing’ my life for my son. “After all, he’s 17!” This came from someone with no children, wanting more of me – more of my time. He didn’t get it. Didn’t get the time and didn’t get that it’s not a sacrifice.
I chose to be a mother and have loved every minute.
From ‘accidentally’ bumping his crib “OH! Are you awake … let me hold you” as a baby to our private jokes and ‘grown up’ discussions now he’s a young man.
If he decides he would like to know his dad in the future – I’ll understand. Hopefully I won’t hunt around for the bitter pill I spat out in order to swallow it. I don’t want to be bitter.
I did have an idea – and I pray I grow up a little more and NOT do it. But in my fantasies, I post a photo of my son graduating High School on his paternal grandmothers wall. With the following caption “Raised, graduated – oh, and he’s 18 now, tell Odie he can stop hiding. And by the way, you’re welcome”.
That would be petty … but oh it would feel so good! ^_^
There’s nothing more contagious than a good mood. I remember I LOVED being the last one to wake up when I was young! On those rare occasions, I could hear chatter in the house, smell food cooking and the sun was streaming across my bed for me to stretch out in. Bonus if the people in the house were laughing, man, that made my day!
I try to remember that. The mornings my son comes out of his room and I am in a good mood, perhaps singing in the kitchen or laughing at something the dog has done, have an immediate affect on him. His morning mood (and we’re really not morning people) visibly changes for the better. I can literally help him have a great day by sending him out of the door with a smile on his face. Amazing what an authentic smile can pass on juxtaposed to a grumpy disposition.
I decide to be happy. Most of the time.
Same rule applies at work. I smile, I laugh, I retain a calm attitude and it rubs off on those around me. We have SUCH power to make the atmosphere around us positive! It’s a beautiful thing.
Not feeling it? Remember, it’s contagious – so even if you fake that first happy domino the people you’ve passed it on to will send it back your way. 🙂