Thursday, July 06, 2006

Why he didn't know

Okay, still stalling on the vacation blog. I'll get there someday.

Also, that you all for your support and kind words over the issue with my daughter's father.

I have to revisit this whole dynamic with The Girl's father. I was not completely honest in my last post. Well, okay, I was honest, but did not tell the complete story as to why my daughter did not know her father for the first ten years of her life. It is a story I have mixed feelings about sharing. It is a story about a difficult decision I made fourteen years ago, one that I have struggled with, one that has weighed on my conscience. But it is a story that needs telling if only to understand me.

Would it surprise you to learn I wasn't always the fire breathing feminist I am today? That is actually an affliction I nourished over the course of many long years. It all started like this...Imagine a girl, sixteen, and enjoying her last real summer vacation. September would bring her senior year in high school. Her whole life is before her, her childhood in ashes, wasted in a bog of dysfunction that was her past. I am not going to repeat the whole song and dance that was my miserable childhood here. Let me just say my childhood, what little there was of it, sucked. The sixteen year old girl I was considered herself grown, mature beyond her years, never quite fitting in, an outcast. Lonely. Sure, by that time I had moved in with my father, but I was still a screwed up, lonely kid dumb enough to fall for some older guy's advances while I was wandering around in the dark comfort of the night, stumbled upon a party where a twenty year old neighbor seduced me and, well, nine and a half months later my daughter was born.

I had thought myself an outcast before! Let me tell you, being a pregnant high school senior does nothing to improve one's social status. I was shunned. The school system actually tried to entice me to go to their special preggo girl's school, but I was too academically advanced and they did not offer the college prep courses that I needed. So I went to high school, heard all the whore jokes and rumors, endured the stares and chuckles and nasty words for six months as my body ballooned and swelled. In my solitude, I had lot and lots of time to think.

Since I was in a bit of a predicament, a young single pregnant girl with no job (I cleaned offices part time for minimum wage and they would not hold my job for me), what would I do? I knew I could not abort. As dire as my situation was, the second--okay maybe some time the night I told my dad I was pregnant and he gave me a big hug and told me he would support me no matter what I did-- soon after I found out I was pregnant, I felt this overwhelming connection and love and, strangely, surprisingly, joy. I could not terminate the pregnancy, nor adopt out the baby. So I offered up my life, my skills, my talents, all I was (as lowly as that was at the time) to that child. I lived for her, for the idea of her, for the warmth and love I felt from her yet unborn body inside me. She needed me, but not nearly as much as I needed her. She was and has been my everything, my salvation. Because of this complex relationship and my strong bond to her yet unborn self (she was my salvation, I her protector to preserve that salvation) I was selfish of her love.

And so I thought of people I knew, other single mothers. I observed their situations. Fighting with ex's. Ex's who were less than men, drunk and belligerent and bitter. Ex's who continuously threatened to take the mothers to court, to try to take their children to make their lives difficult not because they really wanted the children, but merely to harass. Ex's who promised to see their kids, and stood the kids up again and again. Ex's who did not provide. I compared what little I knew of the father to these men. He drank, from what I could tell. He seemed a little wild. I wondered...

So I thought and observed and discussed my thoughts and observations with my father. And I decided over some time==I chose a difficult path--to not actively pursue The Girl's father. Would it be so bad that he was not in her life, messing with her head and her heart, as I guessed he would? Not only that (here is why I feel guilty for my decision) I was terrified to share my daughter, my salvation, the perfect being that my body had grown over the course of nine and a half uncomfortable grueling months, with a virtual stranger. I did have to give his name to the county so I could get insurance for my daughter (there is another story altogether--talk about being a non-person!)--let them find him. But I would not do the footwork.

And I didn't. It took the system ten years, but they finally did it. They found him. And in my guilt (for not providing the girl with an adequate father, sometimes thinking maybe she really needed one, you must know how one questions and double guesses oneself) and mixed feelings about my decision over the course of the last ten years, I waived past child support and agreed that he would pay only half of the statutory monthly amount he owed. And I encouraged her to develop a relationship with him.

This has not been the first time he has hurt her feelings (although he has not been nearly so cruel in the past) and I have given him a pass, did not want to interfere in their budding relationship. But I am her protector, and at this I must draw the line. Anyway, I am feeling a little bit validated. I am feeling like that tough decision I let that little girl make all those years ago was the right decision.


Anonymous wolfbaby said...

Well I don't know the situation first hand and perhaps I shouldn't comment but i will

From everything you have said.. I would say you had sound reason for making the decision you did..

I would feel validated as well

You were trying your best to protect her...

All mothers want to do that..

Don't be hard on yourself about that.. that was a very hard decision to make.

Hope I didn't offend you with my comment cause it wasn't meant to...

Sounds like you have done a wonderful job of raising her!!!

08 July, 2006 22:24  

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