Something you have to forgive someone for
I have a great relationship with my mom. Let’s just get that out there first.
I never knew my real father. Those of you currently gasping or doing spit takes as a result of that sentence can relax. It’s a non-issue with me now and has been for, God, decades. Here’s why: According to my grandmother, who is an excellent judge of character, second only to my late grandfather, he was a stand up guy. He and my mom, both being young and driven by what drives most young people, did what most driven young people do. She got pregnant. He started wringing his hands. He talked to mom, then he talked to my grandparents. ‘I can’t do it. I’m not ready. I don’t think I’d be a good father and I’d rather not be a bad one.’ My grandparents saw his point and my mother was really in no position to force him to stay. It was a conundrum, but one that plays out every day in other lives.
Now, for those of you pounding the keyboard and wailing about how wrong he was and how the ‘right thing to do’ would’ve been to stay, let me ask, ‘Really?’ Seriously. Really? Let’s force someone into a situation that they don’t want to be in that involves the care and feeding of a small human and the emotional foundation for a newly unpregnant 19-year old woman? Your argument, wafting to my ears across the ether, that he should’ve thought about that before the act is certainly an original one and, assuming that you remember being 19, also baseless. In some cases, not staying is the favor done by some fathers and some mothers, depending on the situation. Both history and the present are full of parents who have no business bearing that title, so let’s drop the vague notion that it’s a good idea for anyone to ‘suck it up’ and force themselves to take on the title of ‘Ma’ or ‘Pa’. I don’t blame him. I’m willing to go with the grandparents’ estimation that he was big enough to admit to a weakness and honest enough to realize that a bad father can be worse than no father (a fact that I would soon realize to be incredibly true). The comment section is open; flame away.
Loneliness leads to poor decision making. This has been proven historically. Mom became lonely and the screaming poop factory she had to deal with likely made things worse. The grandparents were there to teach and do most of the heavy lifting (thank God). When I was about four, she met a dude from Kentucky (strike one). By the time I was five, they seemed pretty happy and I was perfectly content to watch their happiness from the comfort and security of the grandparents’ collective wings. I didn’t like him. They didn’t particularly think much of him either. It was more or less unanimous.
I’m cursed with, among other things, an excellent memory. One cold Ohio morning, sitting in my mother’s Chevy Citation while it warmed up, priming myself for kindergarten, she asked me what I thought of him. I said something that can be best translated as, ‘Meh’. She then informed me that he’d asked her to marry him. I may have peed a little, though the memory of that is foggy, but what I do recall is that she told me that if I didn’t want her to go through with it, she wouldn’t. Now, I was a pretty smart kid for a 5-year old and I knew that if I were to wave my arms and start screaming, ‘DANGER WILL ROBINSON’, she’d listen, tell him ‘no’, and go back to brooding about being lonely and single, etc., etc. So, I said something like, ‘Sure. That’s fine.’
Don’t ever force a kid to decide his fate for the next 13 years and yours for the next 20, because he or she will remember that moment every minute of those 13 years (and your later 7) and he or she will be perpetually at a low boil due to that memory. I knew, or at least felt, that I was in a hell of my own making, but the architect who provided me the plans to build that hell was my mother. Truly, I forgave her of this a long time ago, sometime in my mid-20s, but every now and then she’ll try to bring something petty to light and I’ll give her the sort of look that warns of the dangers of opening worm-filled cans. She got rid of him far too late, but better late than never. She knows I know, and I know she knows.
Sir @ November 4, 2010