This something I’ve been meaning to write forever. It looks like I first tried to write this last June and I’ve come back to see that I only wrote two sentences (and I’m not even going to use them). I want to write more about fatherhood in general, but I figured it would make sense to start with me and my father’s story.
But it starts before I even got here. My mother and father don’t agree much on the details of how they met but from what I can gather, my mother came to California, met my father and they fell in love. Like for real love, they got engaged and bought a house. Then my father messed up big time (“groupies” according to my dad and drugs, bad combo) and my mother left him. After she had me, she moved back to Connecticut. And since my father loved both of us, he followed. Since he didn’t know anyone in CT, he couldn’t get drugs and so he got clean.
For a while we all lived together with my grandmother. My mother’s work required her to travel a lot, so I spent most of my early years with my father and my grandmother. Eventually my mom was able to spend more time in CT, enough to buy a house and we were a “regular” family. I’m not sure what happened, but my father moved out but we still hung out all the time. I was the ultimate daddy’s girl and it was awesome. He spoiled me rotten and I loved it. Whatever I wanted I got and I got used to it.
When I was nine, my mother told me she was going to have a baby (with her husband, not my dad). That’s when my father decided to tell me that he had just had a baby with some woman I never met and that I had a six month old brother.
Somewhere along the way my dad started doing drugs again. His visits became more sporadic and when we hung out it was sometimes with real shady people and sketchy situations. I was also getting older, so I was more aware of what going on, but for the most part everything was cool.
Then my dad started going to jail. The first time was devastating. I remember hiding in the closet and crying. But after that, I began to look forward to my dad going to jail because when he was in jail he called and wrote all the time. And when he was out, he was gone.
During another stint in jail, the woman he had my brother with had a little girl. She was born addicted to crack and was placed for adoption. I only met her once, the day after she was born. And then she was gone.
Though I was getting frustrated with my father around this time, I was not done with him. I figured eventually he would clean up and get his life together. He had kids and all these mistakes had costs. But my father couldn’t clean up. My breaking point came when he missed my high school graduation. Later he told me that he was high and didn’t want to see me in that state. But I didn’t know then and that was the first time I cut him off.
Through all of this, mother has always remained calm. She never says anything negative about my father and his shenanigans. And whenever I talk crazy about his, she reminds me that he is my father. I’ve always admired this about her because if some man was driving my children crazy, it would be all over for him.
I don’t remember how, but we reconciled. I didn’t trust him and I barely liked him but I still loved him. My mother made me invite him to my college graduation. He came and was so proud you would have thought he had anything to do with my success there. It infuriated me.
The next few years were strained. I was going through my own stuff and didn’t want to deal with my father’s. I can’t remember now what happened, (I’m sure it had something to do with the truly awful man that I was dating) but I decided that I needed to deal with my father and our issues before it ruined any chance I had at obtaining and maintaining a function romantic relationship. So I wrote him a letter. It said three things: 1. You don’t know me, you haven’t made an effort, so I’m going to tell you who I am, 2. You’re either in or out. I’m not going to continue to chase you around and beg you to act like a father. You either do it on your own and leave me the hell alone and 3. You are not going to be the reason I don’t get married.
To be honest, I didn’t expect an answer. But my father, ever full of surprises, wrote me back and sent a packet of other stuff. He said he was sorry. He said he had been clean for a year and was diagnosed with PTSD. He had been in therapy and was back to drawing again. He sent me all the information he had about my sister. He sent me info about veteran benefits for children (way too late as I was 25 but it would help my brother). And he said I was right. I was finally able to forgive him.
He started to call me. If we had plans to meet, you better believe he was there. And for that I am grateful.
Our relationship now is not perfect but it’s much better. I have accepted my father for who is. I can see who he is. And I am ok with that. He’s never going to be Bill Cosby. He’s never going to be the man to financially bail me out of situations. But he is the man who will come down to to New York year after year and move me to different apartments, even mice filled ones that scare both of us. He’s the man that tells me I’m beautiful, smart, funny, insert positive adjective here when I need to hear it. He’s the man that helps me calm down because he’s incapable of not seeing the bright side to a situation. He’s the man that makes me laugh. He is my father.
Tonight my mother and I got ino a little tiff because I wanted to give my brother $200 in hopes that he would finally enroll in a GED course. My mother went off. She said he wasn’t going to go to the class and that he’s had all these opportunities to go to different schools and he hasn’t taken them and this would be a waste of my money. Now let’s be for real, I know the liklihood of my brother taking $200 and spending it on a GED class he has been avoiding for at least 8 months is slim. I thought that by showing him that I believed that he would do the right and take some steps to get his life back together, it would motivate and empower him. Call it my Christmas wish. He’s only 17. In my humble opinion, that’s just too young to throw your life away.
Well, you would think the argument would stop there, but my mother kept going. I don’t really understand why, but my faith in the men in my life – namely my father and brothers – really pisses her off. She always tells me you can’t change people. I know that. After spending years trying to change boyfriends, my father and now my brother I know that. But I also know that people can change themselves when they want to. I don’t see the harm in encouraging my brother to get a GED and explaining the numerous benefits of having any education in this economy. The one thing my brothers know about me is that I never give up on them. Yes, I get frustrated, a lot, but I’ve never given up on them. So this Christmas, I’m going to tell my brother that whenever he’s ready for this GED course, I will help him financially.
My mother left the room muttering, “You can’t save the world Eva.” I’m not trying to save the world, Mom. I’m trying to save my brother.
I’m reading the secret life of bees, and i got to part that involves a kiss and the feelings you get inside and love. I think of love often and the funny way it works. I think of myself in love – an idea that I can’t figure out if I’m scared of it or if I’m just really over it. I think of abstractly. I thought of it abstractly. Until last Sunday, when I learned that he was here.
This is my new little brother, I call him baby k. it’s crazy, I found out about him on sunday (even though he was born last tuesday), i got a picture of him on Monday and I fell in love with him exactly three seconds later. Every time I look at this picture (which is all day since it’s my blackberry background), I smile. That is love. That is something I haven’t been able to feel in a very long time.
Ours is not a traditional family. Every additional sibling is a total surprise. My father, as it turns out, is incredibly fertile, as are the women he chooses to date. Unlike my other siblings from my father, I have been expecting Baby K for a few months now. His mother is pretty stable, so I’m sure I can maintain a strong relationship with him. I wish I could say that was the case with my other siblings
especially her. My little sister. I have seen her only once, when she was born. I felt like this when she was born. Although I was much younger then, I couldn’t help but smile to look at her, to think of her, to dream of her.
And then she was gone. Due to circumstances out of her (and my) control, she was adopted. Her adoptive family left the country back in the 90′s and my father has not done the best job of keeping track of where she is.
I miss the tiny baby I met for a few moments. I wonder what kind of woman she is turning into. I wonder how she would look at Baby K. I’m sure she couldn’t keep herself from smiling.
I don’t know where I’m gonna go with this series but I have about three in mind.
When J was born, his parents were married and they lived in the suburbs. His father, who once had his shit together, was beginning to crumble. First he lost his job, then he turned to drinking, then he became an alcoholic. Or maybe he was one all along, it’s difficult to tell if he was a functioning alcoholing who lose control or if his binges were the result of depression from being another mouth to feed instead of the provider. At any rate, his drinking got out of control and J’s mom divorced him. Since she had been the sole bread winner, the family’s financial situation didn’t change when J’s dad moved out.
Because of her fear of his abusive and violent behavior when drunk, J’s mother moved the family and refused to tell J’s dad where they lived. She still took J to see his father very regularly and he grew up knowing his parents loved him. He went to Montessori, then public school, then charter school for middle school and finally independent schools for high school. Although J was popular, he never really had many friends. For sure he didn’t have one truly close best friend. Maybe that’s where the trouble starts?
As with most boys, J was a little troublesome. Although he annoyed his sister a lot and talked back under his breath, there wasn’t anything really remarkable about his behavior as a child. He was the baby and therefore was totally spoiled.
No one really noticed anything until he got to high school. Suddenly J was a thug. He was talking back, he got into fights and suddently he knew just a little too much about gangs. He confided in his sister that the bloods wanted him but she figured he was just a suburban kid trying to act tough and that nothing would come of it. Unfortuanately she could have been more wrong. While she was correct about him not joining because he didn’t want to get beat up, no one was clear how involved he was in this mess. Suddently he needed protection, so he hung with tough kids to protect himself. He still got into fights but it probably wasn’t as bad as it could have been. (more…)