Yesterday I attended a birthday party for a friend who I’ve known a few years now. It was a beautiful get together of her friends and siblings that was honestly Pinterest-worthy. “Sundaes on Saturdays,” she called it, with an ice cream bar; Bailey’s, marshmallow and ice cream shots; a popcorn machine; and a shimmering, glittering photo booth complete with props.
This was a fairly young crowd, but grown nonetheless. Several married couples, some even with babies. One couple in particular was about my age and they brought their nine-week-old son. The birthday girl welcomed all little ones in the initial invite, so I brought Zay as well. Although this was a beautiful party filled with people as sweet as the treats, I felt bad. I felt out of place. I felt jealous.
I was sitting in the middle of the room trying to wrangle my squirming, fidgety five-month-old while the beautiful couple’s nine-week-old slept soundly in the back room. I overheard them talking about how they both get to work from home, how they take shifts getting up with their little boy in the middle of the night, how their parents come over frequently to assist and let them get out of the house. I (not-so-subtly) watched as the gorgeous new mom worked the room in heels and a (what-appeared-to-be) perfect figured. I observed the interactions between her and her husband and how they took turns checking the back room to make sure their precious little bundle was safe. Meanwhile, I was scooping spit up from my cleavage, unclenching fistfuls of my hair out of Zay’s hands, and chasing after fallen pacis.
I sat there envious of that couple; angry that I’m doing this alone. I was mad that I have to work in an office and that I have to fork over $1000 a month in daycare costs for only three days a week. I was mad that I have one income, no child support, and am busting my overweight ass to make sure all ends meet and that they have two incomes and no childcare expenses. I was sad that my son doesn’t have a father to look up to like their little boy does. I felt guilty. I felt jealous. I felt pain for my son.
Why did I suddenly feel this way now though? I have many mommy friends with babies around Zay’s age, many of whom are married (or at least in a stable, committed relationship with their child’s father), so why did THIS couple highlight my shortcomings? I think I felt this way because I typically only hang out with or talk to mamas. I go on playdates, walks in the park, lunches and brunches with moms and their babies. Their daddies aren’t usually present when I’m around. But here I was at a birthday party of a mutual friend, conversing with a father holding his son about Zay’s sleeping habits and whether Zay can crawl / roll over / sit up or not. I was talking to a good dad; to a great father; and I don’t know that I’ve ever really had that opportunity before.
My own father and I didn’t / don’t have the greatest of relationships, none of my male friends have children, and all of my new friends are mommies. So here I was, for the first time in my life, with a good dad in front of me. As I sit here writing this and realizing this is why I’m angry, I’m letting my jealousy and my sadness go. I’m not comparing myself to the mother, I’m not doubting my capabilities, I’m not jealous of her. My anger and resentment is at the absence of a father for Zay. But because I didn’t ask to be a single mom and was actually very much in love with the man who left us, I don’t blame myself.
I know that Zay growing up without a dad isn’t my fault. I know being a single mom isn’t my fault, so I’m letting go of the hard feelings. This wonderful father who sat in front of me doesn’t deserve my negativity. He’s doing his job and loving it and I can’t hold the faults of Zay’s dad against the man doing what he’s supposed to. So I’m letting go. I want to say thank you to all of the men out there raising their children, loving them and doing a damn good job despite your concerns that you’re not. I promise you are killing it at parenthood and the world needs more great men like you.
And also, happy belated Father’s Day. I was too deep in my own emotions to take a moment for you last weekend.