I have a mother.
A dad (step-father).
A sperm donor (biological-paternal unit).
And yet with THREE parental units, I somehow manage to still feel orphaned. Abandoned actually.
My relationship with my mother has NEVER been what I’ve longed for, for as long as my memory serves me. I was never the daughter that she wanted. And I came from a man I’m sure she never loved. He was never there.
During my second year around the sun, my mother met and fell in love with her first husband who would later give me his last name and fill a void I didn’t even know was there. So I thought.
For years I felt shielded from the infamous “daddy issues” that befall many Black families in Amerikkka. I had a dad. And he CHOSE me! Though my earliest memories of him always involve an awareness of our non-biological relation, I would say as far back as I can feel, I’ve always felt loved and cared for by this man. So I should’ve been safe right?
He and my mother split around my 13th year and the news was made official sometime after my 14th birthday. Later in that 14th year, I became pregnant. By my 16th birthday, it became clear to me that I was exhibiting the traits of an angsty Black girl with daddy issues and “baby daddy/baby mama drama” (he was already well on his way to having a second son).
No matter how much I wanted to escape it, the plague still captured me.
I was in denial.
After all, I had a dad. And once I was old enough to make the choice to maintain a relationship with him, though he and my mother split, I did just that.
He saw me while I was pregnant. He called me at the precise time I was pushing to deliver my son. And before he was even a month old, my dad was there visiting us though I’m sure he’d preferred not to have to face my mother so soon after their split.
I was, or so I thought, successfully dodging the ball of shame that is hurled at young Black kids with absentee fathers.
Summers in NY with extended family were always an adventure. I felt richer than the other poor Black kids because my parents could afford to fly 3 unaccompanied minors back and forth to New York! We weren’t rich and it became clear when we could no longer spend summers away. I fucked that up for everyone by getting pregnant at 14.
George was a piece of shit parent. Made more kids than he could afford to take care of both financially and emotionally.
I never knew who he was.
Then in my 11th summer, spent in the sweltering heat of the concrete jungle, he burst onto the scene like a creepy stranger offering me candy, instead it was money. He tried to buy my affections all of one summer during my 12th year. He made me feel like I was his long lost princess [my mother had suddenly relocated from NY to FL while I was still in her belly]. He made claims of how he tried to find me and now [at that time] that I was old enough he wanted to make up for lost time… Here’s another $100 bucks kid, go buy all the candy you want.
He disappeared after I returned home.
My real dad was there to comfort me as I suppressed my disappointment.
Who needed him anyway, when I had a whole dad who didn’t have to choose me but he did?! That was the last summer I lived in a two-parent home. Did I mention my parents split when I was 13?
Coming from two broken homes and with all the pressures of being low-income Black youth in Amerikkka during the early 2000’s somehow two barely pubescent kids managed to conceive a kid. I guess we were trying to fix the issues we refused to acknowledge we had. It didn’t work.
My mom wanted my dad to come back home since he was in favor of me keeping my child and that being the only option worth considering. He didn’t come back to her but thankfully he eventually came back into my life.
Truthfully, I couldn’t understand how someone with no biological relation to me could be a better parent than the two who made me themselves.
He even moved back to the state of Florida again so that he could be near us (my siblings and my son) and involved in our lives.
Our relationship blossomed more than ever now that we weren’t under the envious and watchful eye of my mother. I doubt she ever understood the depth of our bond.
I’m sure that had to piss her off.
As I struggled to find my place in this world as both an adult by circumstance but a kid in age, our relationship worsened. We reached some of the lowest lows I can recall. It was the first toxic love relationship I had (I didn’t even realize I was in it).
All the while, dad was there as a comic relief and an emotional dumping ground.
At 16, after a bad fight in which she had choked me, I grabbed my son’s stroller and diaper bag, my school things and a jacket and walked out of the house after 11pm. I moved out for a month or two and refused to tell her where I was. My siblings saw me at school but were conflicted on what role they were supposed to play. Most days we passed each other in the hall with very few words exchanged. Word was, my mother told them not to help or talk to me. But that’s the power of a sibling’s bond –if of course, one is present. To the best of my knowledge, I recall them both doing their part to sneak me clothes or let me into the house after school but before she came home from work so that I could replenish my supply of essential needs (clothes, baby items, etc.).
My own mom didn’t know where to find me but guess who found his way to where I was the very next day?
Yeah the void was filled alright. I wanted for and needed nothing because as far as I was concerned, I had at least ONE parent who wasn’t a deadbeat and knew how to love me simply because I was me.
Not because it was convenient for him. (George)
And not because I was everything she wanted. (Mother)
At least SOMEONE knew what it took to be a real parent and did just that.
Remember how I mentioned that I suspected that this bond between dad and I must’ve pissed her off? Allow me to tell you why.
To this day I still can’t recall the relevance of her making this statement; however, I can NEVER forget the profound affect it had and still has on me.
Somewhere in my mid-to-later twenties, after a series of episodes of bad fights and harsh falling-outs, my mother felt it necessary to snatch and crush the rose-colored glasses for which I could only see one parent through.
It was common knowledge that my dad had 5 biological children prior to his relationship with my mother. He too became a parent for the first time at the tender age of 15. And being 12 years older than my mother, I just assumed that all of his children never appeared in our lives because they were young adults out in the world doing whatever 20-somethings are supposed to be doing.
It was also common knowledge that ALL of my parents had a history with substance abuse. After all my birth parents met and conceived me while on drugs (the story of many Black babies born during the 80s). While my chosen dad met and fell in love with my mother during both of their final attempt at rehabilitation.
I was so sheltered and protected in my bubble of naivety. The “void” was pre-filled before I even knew it existed and I successfully escaped having daddy issues because I had a DAD.
While George was busy loving and caring for another woman and her children [not my blood relatives] at least I had a dad who chose to love my mother and care for her kids too.
It peeved me to no end that this man could play dad to kids that weren’t his own just because he’s romantically involved with their mom, but would neglect and abandon his own offspring because he’s no longer romantically involved with her mother.
I was very vocal about this so naturally my mother was privy to my sentiment.
For whatever reason mother decided that it was her place to reveal to me that the man I honored and admired for choosing to step up was in fact “one in the same” as the other man I so loathed.
During the worst of his earlier years and battle with addiction, it turns out that “my dad” wasn’t a very good dad to the children he created. They have their own set of daddy issues and he’s done what he can since getting sober to make amends. Unfortunately his children were adults by this time. Needless to say, they probably feel very similarly about him as I did/do my own “father”.
My perception of life, of my identity, of my world and my favorite person (other than my child) was crushed!
Crushed isn’t potent enough to express the deep disappointment I felt.
Whatever she’d hoped to accomplish by sharing that information with me was successful.
I later spoke with dear old dad about it and he confirmed what she said was true.
I haven’t been or felt right about any of my parents since.
Alas, I must close this very open diary-like entry.
How is it that I have had 3-parents yet feel as lonely and abandoned as someone who has none?