Err…so…this is not a thread about deadbeat dads or anything. I’m on good terms with my son’s dad (“D.”).
When I found out I was pregnant, D. was not pleased. I was just, well, shocked. And I’m not the baby type (god I hate babies) so this really put a kink in my become a lawyer and work in the Oval Office plans. (Yeah, that’s a little bit West Wing, but a little but just me at that age.)
For whatever reason, I didn’t want to abort. I didn’t even think about it. I was OK with this. And I told D. that it was my responsibility and he was free to move about the country and not worry about putting together the baby furniture. That ended the 9 month relationship. (D. is still ranked as “the person” if someone were to ask me about what love was like. Heck, I’m not even stuck on him anymore.) We parted on good terms and we were both sad.
We didn’t talk the whole pregnancy.
Judah :D:D:D was born. We chatted to arrange, uh, logistics. He agreed to child support. He also ended up paying every medical bill I had during pregnancy when Judah was around a year old. It was like $2,800. I went to Disneyland with my son and my grandmother. Anyway. As you can see, D. is pretty good about that stuff. When we need to adjust finances – or rather, when I think we need to adjust finances, I say something like:
Hey D, ole buddy, in 2004 you paid xyz and it’s 2010 and if you adjust for rate of inflation and el Nino, you should be paying abc! Plus you make bank! Err…please? *And then he grumbles for about 3 emails about my penis fly trap and women’s ways and says, "Okay. I fixed it. New amount coming in next paycheck. When are you getting married? (He set me up so his payroll deposits x into my account every two weeks.) On occasion, something extra finds its way into my account because of some bonus or incentive or whatever and he always sends an email with, “Enjoy.”
Once, I was flying into an airport and he was flying out. We met in the ticket area. He knew I’d be around, but I didn’t know if I’d have Jude with me. I did, though. They introduced each other, but not in a “dad-son” way (Judah was about 4 1/2) and D. and I chatted for a little bit and he said, “He looks like you,” and kissed me on the forehead and we parted.
D. does not know Judah. He knows of him, and knows things about him and gets updates like what he looks like or when he’s in the hospital with asthma or what school he goes to or whatever, but they don’t have a relationship. D. doesn’t want one. I’ve never demanded one, though I’ve left it open. He was very adamant about it, and we had to work on our respective maturity to go from “f you” (when Judah was born, it was like we forgot we ever liked each other once) to “hey, happy birthday!” We talk about once or twice a month via email and he always remembers birthdays, passovers, Hanukkah, whatever. He jokes about my boyfriends, my neurotic tendencies, food habits, whatever. He knows a lot about my life. Same here.
We don’t have court orders, custody issues, lawyers, legalities. We fight over nothing.
I’m fine with playing catch with my son. Judah had his first mitt before he could even figure out what it was for. (Turns out, he’s a lefty, anyway!) Judah has plenty of male influences in his life - my brother, family friends, my friends, his grandpa, his teachers, whatever.
I think I do an awesome job.
It does suck sometimes, like the fact I have no one to “pass him off to” when I want a break. As a result, Judah is very well behaved and can tolerate any environment (including trekking with me and coloring during a grad class or meeting). There’s no one to get all gooey with over his first day of kindergarten or school play. But…my son is happy and adjusted and a really good boy.
Problem? My son started a school (kindergarten) where he is the only kid with a “absent” parent. A few kids have divorced parents, but not many. He’s the only one in his class who doesn’t have two parents at home. This is a private school, too, where most of the families live in the ‘established’ neighborhoods. So, at first, he would shrug it off like, “I don’t have a dad” and not care because he hasn’t known anything else and he’s fine with his mom. But now…his new friends ask…and my poor six year old took to telling his friends that his dad lived on a ship far away.
His dad lives on a ship?
In the ocean.
Where they don’t have mail.
And then he brings home this drawing he made of me and him and our house and off to the side is a guy with “DAD” written on top of it. Great. JoyAnn, Judah, and DAD. So we talked about it a little and he said he wants kids to think his dad is on a ship somewhere because they all have a dad.
I was a little hurt. I mean…I’m awesome. I like comics and baseball and boy stuff and I make fart jokes! I have TWO “Happy Father’s Day” cards from Judah. He said it wasn’t fair that I didn’t get one but his grandpa did.
So then I write the Email I Never Wanted to Think About.
D. had written to say Happy Passover and ask how we were. I explained what was going on with him at school, bragged about the cute outfit I made Jude for Pesach and blablabla about the news, how are your parents liking Tejas, oh, and btw, Judah can read (ish) and type, so maybe you can write an occasional email? (In retrospect, that sounds stupid.) I asked D., what do I tell him? Cause I hate it when he gives me that butthurt look.
<sigh> I’m not going to get married. I don’t think it’s fair of D. to expect me to get married any more than it’s fair for me to expect D. to play house. We both know that.
This isn’t a post about D. It’s about my son.
**Does anyone have advice about what to say to my son? **I took him out to eat the other night and did lots of art projects with him and kept thinking I may say something about his ‘dad on a ship’ story, cause he really has to give up that fantasy, but I don’t know how to say, “He’s just not that into you.”
How do I deal with this situation? I’ve had 7 years to think about it, and I’ve yet to come up with a solution to this little kiddo’s hurt. He knows his dad lives in Texas. He knows Texas is not a ship in the Atlantic. He just made that up. So how do I approach this?
Anyone have first hand experience? I’ve never spoken badly about D. I don’t speak poorly of D. to anyone. I just think that’s bad policy. Plus, we remember each other’s birthdays and used to be best friends. I’m not mad at D. for not wanting to be a parent, but I am at a loss here.