My daughter is almost 5 years old now and I’ve been a single mom for 4 ½ of those 5 years. Her father, and boyfriend at that time, was a Marine. He was gone for the entire second and third trimester of my pregnancy. He only came home four days before I went into labor. In those months of lonely pregnancy, I began my transformation from teenage girl to teenage mother. My life changed in so many ways and even my thought processes were altered. Life was different. I knew I had to get myself ready for this child and I did.
When he left, I was still the skinny, fun, teenage girlfriend. When he came back, I was the 40 weeks pregnant, 40 lbs heavier, tired, hungry, swollen, cranky, can-we-please-build-this-crib-now girlfriend. Since he was away, he didn’t go through the transformation with me, he didn’t gain sympathy weight, nor did he watch my belly grow. We kept in contact through letters and sometimes a phone call here and there. Our contact was minimal and his mind was not changing like mine.
After my daughter was born, it didn’t take long for me to realize that he wasn’t ready to be a parent. Heck! I wasn’t ready to be a parent but once you make that decision, there’s no turning back. Responsibility is just that. It was a horrible experience to bring a child into a world with someone who did not want to be a father. The fighting was regular and it got to the point where I realized I didn’t want my child to grow up seeing this type of relationship. I didn’t want my child to grow up in a household of constant fighting – like I did.
I no longer wanted to be a teenager, but he still did. My very first New Year’s Eve as a parent – 5 days after my child was born – was spent alone in my bedroom while he partied until the next morning. After dealing with the stress for too long, I made the decision to be a single mother and escape back into the world with a fresh start. I’ve built my life from the ground up and started from scratch. I could have lived an easier life with a man who was willing to pay the bills and support us but it didn’t feel right for my child or me. He didn’t want us to go, but it didn’t feel right to live with a man because we once had something that no longer exists; it wouldn’t be fair to my hopes and dreams.
Five years later and finally her father agrees to (occasionally) spend weekends with his daughter. It was a hard battle for me to get him involved. There were months where I wouldn’t even hear from him and he would hide that he had a daughter from people and live life without parental responsibility. I never pressured him to be apart of her life because I would rather he want to see her and enjoy the time than force him to be with her and be unhappy. There is only so much one can do. She loves him and jumps for joy when she sees him and that’s all I’ve ever wanted for her.
I guess deep down inside, I knew I would be raising this child alone. I just let go and maintained peace in any way possible. I wanted to end the vicious cycle in my family of father-haters. My mother constantly spoke of how awful my father was and that only hurt us as kids. I promised I would never say one bad word about her father to, near or around my child. If I have to lie and cover-up for him when he doesn’t show up on a Sunday morning so she won’t think he is a bad person, I will. Even if it means glorifying a man who doesn’t deserve it, I will. I hope that one day, they have an amazing father-daughter relationship. If they don’t, at least she’ll have better memories. As a mother, part of my job is to ensure her happiness; not persuade her to favor me over him.