Okay. Do you remember when I said that I wanted to use this blog to share my journey? The good, the bad, and all of that in between? Well I would pretty much say that the experience that i am about to tell goes to that in between category. I still don't have the right words to describe the feelings of this day.
Exhales. My son met his father in August of last year. Soak that in. Met. His. Father.Crazy right? I guess I’ll just start at the beginning.
I had my eldest son at eighteen. Long story short, his dad and I broke up and things pertaining to Q got complicated. It was as if my life suddenly became a statistic out of the child development books I was reading in school. The only difference? My son was the biggest motivator for me that could have ever been. I felt that I had something to prove. And not just to him, but to myself and everyone around me. In my mind, I was already a statistic, I couldn’t possibly become a statistical failure too. And if you know me, you know that I am, and have always been, a go getter. I’ve never needed the push to do well or to chase success. And so, in having my son, it only made me want to work harder for the things that I wanted. Of course there were bumps in the road. Of course I made some faulty decisions, I was 18.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks before my son’s third birthday. Things between my child’s father and I had become a very heated situation. Hurtful words were exchanged during every interaction. Situations were tense. At the time, Mr.D (what I’m calling his dad for the moment) was not very present in Q’s life. I can still remember my baby walking around the house whimpering, “I lost my daddy.” “I can’t find my daddy.” That always killed me. Still, I would protect Mr.D. “He’s at work,” or “he’s at school” were always my go to answers. Mr. D had eventually stopped coming around. He had stopped calling. He stopped.
But my life continued. I continued to be a mom to my son. I continued to be a mom to my son even though every step of the way Mr.D fought me. Even though every step of the way he disrespected me, I continued. Even though, he would physically disappear over and over and over again, I continued. And that is how things remained. He stayed a disappearing act. I moved (with my now husband) and some years went by. Then some more years went by. And more years went by. Mr.D stayed away.
After a total of almost seven years Mr.D and Q met. It was planned, and by my husband none the less. I was at my school setting up my classroom and my husband called me to tell me it was time. I rushed home, threw on a different shirt and we loaded in the car. My sister was with me at the time helping me in my classroom, so she stayed with my other sons.
Chris, Q, and I drove to our town’s outlet mall. On the way there I tried to feel Q’s vibe. I asked him how he was feeling. I let him know that it was okay to feel however he wanted to feel. I let him know that everything was going to be cool. And even though I was talking to Q, I was talking to myself too. I had not seen this man in forever. I don’t know him. He doesn’t know us. There was never any “closure”. Things weren’t settled fully. All of the memories I had of this man were negative. But I knew that I had to keep it together for my baby.
When we got there, we parked and started to walk inside. And there he was…with his woman…and four of his kids. Yes! 4 kids! Keep it together Tae. Just act normal. Say hi. He walks up to us. Chris greets him first with a sturdy dap up. He looks at Q. He smiles. “Can I get a hug man?” “No don’t hug him! You haven’t earned a hug!” That’s what I wanted to say. But I didn’t. Q awkwardly approaches him and gives him a side church hug. Then Mr.D looks at me. “Hey Tae.” He comes in for a hug. “Dont hug me either!” But I follow suit and give him the same side church hug with a little more shoulder than anything else. “Hey,” his girl says from behind. I smile. As if seeing him again wasn’t weird enough, now I have to make nice with his family.
At this point, I could feel my heart pumping and thumping in my chest. This can’t be okay. My heart is pumping too damn fast. I'm about to pass out!” “Where do you want to go Q” Mr.D asked. Q looks at everyone and shyly tells us his answer. We ended up going to three stores. Q wanted some “swag” clothes as he calls them and shoes (of course). The whole time, I’m literally having two conversations in my head: what I actually say, and what I wanted to say. It was exhausting. It must have showed on my face, because throughout the whole time, my husband would grab me gently and rub my arm. I actually thought I was doing good. I was “making nice.” I was talking. I was cordial. But then again, he knows me. He knew I wasn’t okay. But how selfish would I be to make him attend to my feelings? I couldn’t even remotely make this about me. It was the FIRST time my son was meeting HIS father! Keep it together Tae.
At one point, we all even went to the food court to get something to eat...and sat at the same table. At another point, I somehow ended up being at the table right in front of him. Our kids and his woman weren’t at the table. It was just me, him, and Chris. We sat in silence. Speak stupid! “So what are you doing in North Dakota?” There you go. Nice and simple.
He proceeds to tell me he’s an electrician. Kinda cool. “How long have you been there?”
Hmmm. Odd. “Oh so not too long. Where were you before that?”
I stop chewing my food. “Austin? Like Austin, Austin?” He nods. “Did you know we were in Austin?” He nods again. I could’ve jumped across the table. You were her this whole time?! Why didn’t you call? Why not say something? Anything? BY this time everyone had came back to the table and so I happen to look at his daughter and smile as I see her clenching french fries with both hands. Kids make me happy. So I found my happy place in her. We finished our food and left.
We did some more shopping. Mr. D bought Q some more shoes (and I bought the same pair for Ja’ron). I watched as Mr.D kept watch over his kids and his lady. His family. The kids that call him DAD. As the store closed, we all walked to the wishing well by the front entrance and just sat. We watched the kids play. I watched as Q ran around playing with his brothers and sisters. He’s playing with his brothers and sisters. On one hand, watching Q play made me happy. I felt just as happy as any other time I catch my kids in a moment of happiness. On the other hand, the feeling was different. I still can’t put the feeling with the right words. None will do it justice. Yet still, I played nice. I made small talk with his lady. She was actually quite nice. Chris and Mr.D talked. After a couple of minutes I give Chris the it’s time to go look and we commence to saying our goodbyes. Mr.D hugged Q and I again, and dapped up Chris. And we left. Actually, as soon as we left through the entrance, we all hit a mean sprint to the car. All was normal again.
Even now as I think about that day. I think about how far I’ve come. There was a time when the mere sight of Mr.D gave me a migraine. His presence instantly made me feel a type of way to the point where I wouldn't even want to talk to him. But that day, I did good. I’m proud of me. Chris told me how proud of me he was as well. I remember the drive home and how I blatantly recall being able to seemingly breathe again. It was like I had been holding my breath the entire time. Not much came out of this meet and greet. It was kind of like it never even happened. And honestly, I'm secretly relieved. I mean, Chris and I would have done what was best for Q regardless, but I am not quite sure how I would handle coparenting with a distant coparent as a married woman.
Like I said, I am not the first to go through this, and unfortunately, I won't be the last. And in each situation, the experience will be different. The feelings will be different. But for anyone who has already been through this, or is maybe dreading the day that this will happen, or even feeling as though they don't know what to feel about the whole thing; I want to say it’s okay to feel whatever you need to feel. It’s okay to get yourself through it or over it however you need to. I don’t feel guilty. I did nothing wrong. I’m human. I felt. But no matter how I felt, I made sure my son was okay, and that he had the space and the security to feel however he needed. Because that’s what it’s all about. Or rather, that’s whom it’s all about.