I have received some requests for updates on the visit with the baby-daddy and what it all means for little AJ and I. To be honest, since our return yesterday, I have been blindsided by jet lag and can barely walk around the apartment as unpacking and getting organized have been beyond me. And this state of affairs fairly accurately reflects the state of my head when it comes to what AJ’s dad refers to as “our unconventional family.”
For a family we are. It is strange and wonderful and, in some deep way, painful to acknowledge that but it is true. Together, AJ, his dad, and I are a unit. I am not at all sure how this family will take shape with time, who else will join our motley crew, but we are somehow joined for better or worse.
During this visit, we covered an immense amount of territory including the past, the present, and the imaginable future. In the end, I didn’t see several friends in Sydney, in great part because of the intensity of this process. I felt like I was running a psychological marathon, hitting “the wall” with alarming frequency. At least every couple of days, I was so angry or hopeless that I couldn’t see staying another hour. Then, I would go for a walk or something and calm down and get back to the business of sorting things out. Seeing people and catching up felt akin to a runner stopping for a chat at about how the past mile went.
Now I have crossed the finish line and am feeling the effects of the effort. I am spent.
It does seem worth it, though. AJ is just so happy with his daddy in his life, even from an enormous distance. He really connected with his Gramms, as he calls his paternal grandmother, and one of his uncles. In his words, they are his “Australia flamly” and his dad’s apartment by the beach is his “Australia home.” His life is enriched and expanded by this. I believe mine will be as well but am not there yet.
Because, worth it or not, this visit re-connected me with another side of this lovely coin. While I had in some way “processed” what had happened in the past and how difficult I found coping with the effects of his actions–the sudden change of job, location, and lifestyle–I really had not fully experienced the hurt of it before this visit. When I learned of his betrayal three years ago, I was already four months pregnant. I had to get on with it–get a job, find a place to live, get ready to have a baby. Knowing it was hard enough, I couldn’t let myself feel that I was unloved and cast aside. I also hadn’t really felt the loss in the situation. Though I am a strong proponent of single parenthood and see some real advantages to my state of affairs, I did at one time harbor hopes around being loved and having a child with a partner who really wanted to be with me. Even after having AJ, this hope lived on.
But life is about choices, some we can anticipate the consequences of, others not so much. AJ’s dad talks about choosing to zig or zag. Much of the time, you can’t know which you are doing let alone if you should do the other. In this case, the choice is clear. For at least the next several years, AJ knowing and having time with his dad means me knowing and having time with his dad. Logistics make this a time and energy-consuming activity. There is no dropping the kid off for the weekend or coordinating our schedules the week before. We have talked about longer-term possibilities for changing this, for living closer to one another. This involves one of us moving in a continental way. It’s huge. We have done family therapy, for Pete’s sake, to work toward having a relationship based on trust and respect.
All of this makes the already unlikely possibility of meeting and building a life with someone else beyond improbable, especially before biology makes sharing the process of having a child an impossibility. It is a very personal, very poignant loss. Because it is a choice. I don’t have to participate in this. Yet I am. I simply can’t bring myself to deprive my son of the joy and meaning that his relationship with his dad can bring him to keep the dream of the possibility of a happier ending for me alive.
So, even as I strive for this rich, complicated, surprisingly loving family for my son and greet its arrival, I am letting my dream go, letting it die, grieving it’s gone-ness, it’s never-been-ness.
And I am sad.