I haven’t been feeling nice lately. I’ve been lazy, directionless, procrastinating. I shouldn’t feel bad about myself. Our plans have crumbled, and I think while I’ve been feeling mopey and directionless, my brain has been running down the options to fix the situation, formulating a new path and plan, and I finally did it. I jumped. I need to leave my son alone and stop trying to make him fit into this broken system. I don’t fit into this broken system. I’ve always been the ballsy one; the troublemaker; the one who would boldly do what other’s cringed at; like running wild with semi-colons instead of using commas or incomplete sentences like most writers.
And I totally have the balls to JUMP!
Not, like, off a cliff with a parachute or anything like that. I have a little bit of balls when I have to, not a death wish, plus I’m a bit averse to heights. I mean jump in a metaphorical sense, which should be obvious. I just can’t believe I did it with a child attached to me. Ugh, if I fail, we could lose each other. Everything could go wrong and I could lose my child. The bottom is out, I’m leaving my safety net, and if I can’t fly with this child on my back we are going to crash into the ground. He’ll be okay this is Canada, I won’t have to sell him to a shoe factory or anything, but still. It will kill me – again, metaphorically, but also, possibly physically. My blood pressure isn’t feeling so great anymore and I’m getting grey hairs… it’s this child, I’m telling you. What happens to him hurts me on the inside. I finally get that saying “this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.” It’s for real. Of course, it would’ve hurt neither of us if he’d have just put down the belt and let’s talk about this.
Probably I’m being dramatic and everything will be fine. But it’s hard not to worry. It starts the second you find out you’re pregnant (especially when you find out the way I did), and it never goes away.
What if he dies in there? What if he slips out of my arms and crashes to the ground the first time I hold him? What if something is wrong with him? What if I have to feed him mush through a straw until I die, and then who knows what will happen and who will feed him his mush then?
These were just the thoughts I had before I decided I wasn’t going to kill the little beating heart and bundle of nerve-endings. I’m entirely pro-choice, but I knew I making a choice that I was going have to live with for the rest of my life either way, and that I would either be living with the life I gave, or living with the life I took away. I’m so grateful that it was my own choice to keep him, although I did seek guidance from God, of course, and He made it crystal clear which path would bode best for me. To each their own.
I didn’t know where this path was going to lead, and there were no promises that it was going to be easy, quite the opposite, it was promised and has proven to be the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life and that’s a fact.
But it’s changed me in so many wonderful ways. My son made happiness more important to me than making money. Having a child also forced me to rediscover myself, brush off down to the roots, in order to remember who I am and to show him, to teach him who he is, where he comes from, and how endless his possibilities are.
He’s about to learn that his mother is one ballsy bad-ass bitch who’s not afraid to risk it all to give him a better life, and that’s a fact.
I don’t want to give too many exact details, for safety reasons, but we are moving across Canada. Toronto has gotten way too expensive, it hasn’t gotten that much nicer, only dirtier and more crowded, and I just don’t want to pay this much to live here anymore. Most of my family jumped ship decades ago, and I’m one of the last holdouts still gritting my teeth and trying to tough it out in this filthy toilet bowl of a city; Toronto the toilet bowl. People pride themselves on being able to afford to live here, but the thing is that there’s no value. Just a thin little reputation as a world class city. Lots of pretty lights blinding you from the crumbling facade beneath. I look up at the condos downtown where I used to live, and they look like prison cells. Minimum security so lots of fancy perks but it’s still a jail, nonetheless. Tight little overpriced jail cells. There are some other reasons too. My school plans haven’t worked out, and without those little roots I wanted to put down, we have no good reason to stay, and plenty of reasons to go. I actually had the idea to leave Toronto while I was pregnant. But I had only nine months to figure out what I was going to do with a baby, and I wasn’t able to come up with any feasible plans to change cities within that timeframe.
I’m not feeling lazy and directionless anymore, I’m finally up and moving because I finally have a feasible plan, and it all started a few years ago when I couldn’t sleep, randomly popped out of bed like a daisy, went to my laptop like some sort of zombie robot, and searched for my birth mom on Facebook. I’d done it a few times here and there. Not since many years before the birth of my son, but nothing ever came up before. Then suddenly there she was and she was almost unmistakable. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but deep down I knew even before I found out that she went to my dad’s high school at the same time as him, I was looking at my mother’s face for the first time in thirty-three years.
Long story short, we are moving to her city, and I am very nervous. I’ve only met her a few times over the past few years, stayed with her for a week, and made a very nice friend in her city who offered me a car so we can get around when we arrive. Of course I need a driver’s license first, I’m working on that.
I had no idea when I met her that I’d move to her city. I just wanted to meet her. This wound up working out perfectly, and we will hopefully only be staying with her for two weeks, max. I will also have the resources to leave with my son at anytime if things aren’t working out, and that is quite important to me. So I guess I do have a thin little safety net.
Here’s the difference between my mother and my father and the thing that concerns me. My father stuck around and did his best to raise me and he’ll give me a portion from his very last crumb without me even asking. I don’t ask my father for anything unless I’m in dire straits. I think I had to borrow a few thousand dollars from him once, and I paid him back a few weeks late, but the full amount, as promised. My father can’t afford to just hand that type of money away, but he would if he could. He has never asked me for a dime. One Christmas I got him and his wife courtside tickets – very front row, to see the Toronto Raptors play basketball. The man was not a great father, but at least he was there, and at least he kept trying.
My mother asked me for a Christmas gift or card last year. I kinda didn’t know what to say. I’m a single mother now. I don’t even buy my father Christmas gifts anymore and he understands why. There are times, especially when I’m scrimping, like at Christmas, when I look longingly at the milk and think, I want some of this but I’d better not have any because it’s expensive and my growing boy needs it for his cereal. Who gets gifts and cards at Christmas is tightly exclusive nowadays. It’s mostly my son who gets it all. Anything he likes, and there’s no extra for anyone else, because there’s hardly much extra left even for me. If my sister and my father aren’t getting anything, then I mean, I’m sorry, but no. Not even a six dollar card with postage, because I could get a bag of homogenized milk for six dollars and that’s the kind my baby likes. Sorry.
In fairness to my mother, she did pay for my trip, and cover all expenses while I was with her. She did not, however, pay any child support or do any of the parenting beyond the first six months for me, and year and a half for my sister, so as much as I appreciate it, and I understand that she didn’t have to do it, it still feels more like reparations, not quite a gift that is intended to be reciprocated. I don’t expect any reparations or parenting from her at all, I just don’t know how to feel any differently about this right now. She doesn’t have to buy us any gifts. She ought not to ask for any either.
The other thing is, I was raised by my grandmother so it’s in my nature to be respectful to my elders, but during my visit my mother kind of ordered me around. If it was my grandmother, she could have ordered me anyway she pleased and it would have been an honour to do or get her anything she asked. I would have felt pleased to help, and not kind of… resentful? I suppose what made me feel this way is that I was obliging her politely and respectfully, as I would any other elderly woman whose home I was staying in, not as a real mother who had earned the right to make demands of me. It kind of hurt me to discover that I don’t have the proper respectful feelings for my mother. She’d ask… no I mean tell me to carry something for her, and I’d just think, she’s elderly and disabled, I’ll just help her and not correct her manners, it’s fine. I would certainly NOT think of all the times she carried heavy bags of groceries through sheets of icy pouring rain just so that there would be food on the table for us because she never did that, my elderly grandmother or my father did. My grandmother had a bad leg from a car accident before we were born, used to swell up until the tears poured out from her eyes. She’d have to rub ointment on it and keep it elevated, and she had no car anymore. We had to walk, or take the bus everywhere. That’s who my strong healthy teenaged parents dumped their responsibilities on.
I suppose that natural adoration and respect for parental figures is built up, not just in the act of giving life, and birth, which is important and worthy of respect (I keep reminding myself), but more in the work and sacrifice that goes in afterwards. Birth isn’t the finish line, birth is only the beginning of a marathon that you hope to God will not end for the rest of your life because if it does then that means things have gone horribly wrong. That is what you’re signing up for, and that’s where you build the respect. I don’t mind doing things for my mother, but she ought to ask me nicely.
My biggest concern is that it’s going to be a weird two weeks. I do plan to bring my mother a gift, but it’s more a gift for my son because she smokes an awful lot and I don’t want him choking half to death for two weeks, so I’m going to get her an e-cigarette and hope she gives it a shot for at least the two weeks, and maybe forever because it’ll be better for her in the long run to switch to vaping. Hopefully that gift will be win-win.
I can’t say much about exactly what happened between my father and mother, but I did get several differing accounts to try and make sense of. Long story short, teenagers need to take birth control more seriously. Teenagers, especially the type of teenagers that become parents, are literally the worst parents. They both could have worked while my grandmother watched us during the day or after school, absolutely for free because that’s just how my grandmother was. They could have gone out on the weekends without having to pay for a babysitter like I do if I want to go anywhere. They could have bought a big beautiful house back when it was affordable, like all four of my aunts did with their husbands, and we could have had a family if they’d only been able to collaborate properly and respect each other (and I suppose also deal with the pressure of being an interracial couple in the 80’s, which is palpable to this day, really). Instead they both had to live with the consequences and perhaps even the guilt of their choices, and neither one of them has ever amassed apart, what they could have had together. None of us have. These teenagers think its a game or that they’re still fucking around in preschool. Myself too, I’m not exempt, I made dumb choices as a kid, and I still do sometimes. The thing is, from infants, from crawling to walking, walking to running, the older you get, the more power you have to make a decision, quicker than the twinkling of an eye that you will pay for, one way or another, for the rest of your life. Shit’s a game, until suddenly it’s not and the entire course of your life has been grievously altered and as dried out and dusty-mouthed as you feel, there isn’t a damn thing you can do to go back and change things. Best you can do is make the most of what the situation is now.
So, I suppose a lot is riding on this woman that I barely know. I don’t know exactly what to expect, but I’ve prayed on it, and this feels like the right move for us. I’ve given our notice to vacate at the end of our lease, our one-way plane tickets are non-refundable (seriously, who pays over a thousand dollars for the option of cancelling a flight!?), I jumped. It’s done. It’s happening. This child is clinging to my back and if all goes well, we are going to be soaring. Close to the ground at first, where any slight falter or miscalculation can decimate us, but I believe we can gain some strength, some momentum, and rise.