Friday, January 16, 10:30 PM:
It’s been a long week. The kind when every day seems plodding and exaggerated. The kind when your best friend calls you an idiot because you’ve decided that you’re ready to become a mom. The kind when you begin to entertain this idea, simply because you’re at your wit’s end and have no other answers.
Even though throwing in the towel sounds like a viable option, you resist. Maybe it’s because you’re not sure of what doing so would entail or because you’re ready to become a mom (and therefore living for something much bigger than yourself). Maybe it’s because you have always been a fighter, and don’t know how to acquiesce. Maybe it’s because you’ve always done everything on your own terms, and fuck everyone who says that you’re not gonna make it. Whatever the reason, you plug on. The future is brighter than you’ve ever imagined.
Despite your optimism, it’s hard. People tell you you’re not fit for motherhood. They question your motives and doubt your preparation. They tell you that your baby deserves better than to be born into a dysfunctional family with an ex-sex worker mom and a delinquent dad. And a part of you – your pragmatic and diplomatic side – takes into account all of these perspectives and sees where they’re coming from. You’ve always been good at seeing every side of the story, even the sides you don’t like or agree with.
You think really deeply about all of these points and points-of-view and this is what you come up with: You’re ready to be a mom. You know that despite the fact that you’re up to your ass in debt and not in a stable relationship with your baby’s father, you’re capable of being a mom. You know that despite the fact that there are women who at this very moment are poring over adoption pamphlets, and that these women have stable careers and less emotional baggage, you’re the one who deserves this baby. You’ve never been more sure of anything in your life. You know this with every fiber of your being, and a part of you wonders how much of this feeling is caused by hormones and a mammalian instinct to reproduce.
Your pseudo-boyfriend is reminding you why that “pseudo” part has yet to fall off. He is unreliable. He swears that he wants to make things work, but doesn’t keep his promises. He stays in his mom’s house when he could be helping you with the nursery. He says that he’s too tired after a long day of jury duty to talk about the baby and your upcoming prenatal appointment and your doubts and your fears. He calls every night and talks for half an hour if you’re lucky. If you’re not lucky, he’ll talk for fifteen minutes and say that he’s too tired to stay on the phone. You wish he’d either become a tried-and-true asshole so you could leave him, or that he manned up to his role as a provider for the baby and really tried to make things work with you. You wonder what kind of help he’ll be once the baby arrives and your concerns and issues are that much more pressing.
It’s hard for you, this role reversal. To care about whether a man wants to come over or not. To worry that you’re alone. There is a deeper urgency now that you’re expecting a baby. There is a deeper meaning to every choice. It’s not the prospect of loneliness that upsets you, but the not knowing. The future is one big blob of maybe and you’d like to lock down as much control as possible before everything comes spinning at you from different directions.
“Tell me that you’ll come over”, you say to him. “Tomorrow morning? Please?” It shames you to have to beg. But you want to be able to look your child in the eye one day and say with honesty, “I really wanted you to have a normal life with a normal family. I really wanted to make things work out with your dad. I’m sorry if I wasn’t enough.” (Because in your gut, you know that that conversation is inevitable. But you hope you’re wrong.)
He says, “Of course I’ll be there, love. You know I want to be there. I swear I’ll be there early in the morning.”
Saturday, January 17:
It’s early in the morning and he isn’t at your house. He hasn’t called. You remember that he’s been doing this for weeks. Every Friday night, he swears that he’ll come over the next morning. And every weekend, you don’t see him till Sunday. You remember all of the promises that he’s broken and your newfound resolve to try to make things work. Maybe, you think, it’s somehow your fault that you feel this way. Maybe you’re not understanding enough, or lenient enough, or loving enough. Maybe you’re not patient with him, and you’re too demanding. Maybe you’re somehow not communicating your wants and needs.
So you take a deep breath and sing to the baby in your tummy, and channel all of your fears and insecurities into looking for work. You wait till 11 a.m. and then call his house. No one picks up. You are annoyed but unsurprised. Despite the fact that he lives with six other people, no one ever picks up the phone.
You start writing a short story. The main character is baking something, and you text people to ask suggestions of what she should be baking. His cousin texts you back a suggestion, but it doesn’t follow your guidelines. You know you’ve said that the recipe has to necessitiate a folding of multiple ingredients into a batter, but his cousin keeps mentioning simple recipes, i.e. merengues, madeleine cookies, etc. Finally, the conversation turns and she mentions a bakery in Fort Greene. You laugh at the turn of events and wait for his phone call.
He calls you around 2 p.m. and asks if you’re mad. You tell him that you’re not mad, and you’re not lying. You’ve gotten used to his irresponsibility, and now you’re just surprised that he has the decency to call you. He says that his cousin (the one you’ve been texting) wants to buy you a cake from the bakery in Fort Greene. He says he’s going to go with her to the bakery, then take the train to your place. “Ok”, you say. “Tell her I said thank you.”
At 5 p.m. he calls you from his house phone.
“Why are you at home?” you ask.
He explains that he’s misplaced the paperwork that he has to show in court for community service. He had to go home to look for it. He says that it’s a courtesy that he’s calling you, that he did it to keep you in the loop.
You wonder why he hasn’t kept his paperwork in a safe place, and why he thought about it anyway.
He says that he’ll call you when he finds his paperwork.
It’s 7 p.m. when he finally calls you back. You think about the fact that it’s 7 p.m. and realize that you only think it’s late because he’d insist that it’s late. It’s dark and there’s ice all over the ground, and God forbid he get into trouble on his way to see you, he’d get thrown into jail. You tell him to stay home; it’s late and you’re angry. Why can’t things be simple? you think. When did everything get to be so goddamn complicated? When did 7 p.m. become late?
On second thought, you think, please come over. Your features soften and your pink, girly side shows itself. It’ll do you some good to see him. To lie in his arms and pretend that everything’s going to be ok. To be assured with his charms that fairy tales do come true and happy endings aren’t only for princesses.
But you’re pretty sure that if he comes over at this hour, he’ll go straight to sleep. No cuddling. No charm. No sweet talk. He’ll come over, complain about a lack of food or the cold and ice, then fall straight to sleep. So you rethink your stance. You mention that you have to go to Brooklyn the next day; there’s a debt you have to pay, and you promised your former roommate you’d walk her dog while she’s out of town. He has a choice: he can either travel, right now, from Brooklyn to Queens, and then help you with your errands the next day OR he can stay put in Brooklyn, pay the debt for you, and meet up with you at your former apartment.
He picks the latter. You won’t see him today at all.
Sunday, January 18:
Here’s the plan: he’ll get the money and pay off the debt around 2 or 3 p.m. Then he’ll take the train over to your former apartment, you two will have lunch, and then you’ll make the trek back to Queens. It makes sense. You both agree to the terms.
This is what happens: It takes him until 11 PM to get the money and deliver it. He complains the whole time that he has a pain in his ass. He says it’s not his fault that it’s taking so long. He makes no explanation, gives no real reason.
At 11:30 p.m., you call him and he promises to come over in the morning. “Just call”, he says. “Just call at 8 AM. I won’t even shower. I’ll just hop on the train and get to your house.”
Monday, January 19:
You call 7 times in an hour. He doesn’t pick up. Finally, around noon, he arrives at your house. He complains about his ass. It hurts, and it’s hard for him to move or sit or walk. You ask if there’s anything that you can do, if he’d like to go to the ER or the doctor’s office. He refuses to go anywhere or do anything for the pain. You say that you’re sorry that he’s in pain, but that you have a long to-do list that you need his help with. He complains some more about his ass hurting, and you throw your hands up in frustration. He spends the day doing nothing. Nothing gets done.
You tell him that you’re worried. That you need assurance. That you want things to work out with him, or at least you want to try to make things work out with him. You make small talk and laugh and joke about the little things in life. You try to make light of the issues, even though they’re eating you up inside. You don’t want to be a nag or a bitch. But it’s gnawing at you, this feeling. It’s killing you that you have to bend over backwards to not be frustrated and angry all the time. It’s killing you that he says that he’ll try, but that you never see results. It’s killing you that you can’t even count on him to be with you when he says he’s going to be with you. And it kills you more that when he is with you, he’s just as irresponsible and rude as he is when he’s not with you.
Around 8 p.m., the two of you are in your bedroom. He’s lying down, saying this is the only way he’s relatively comfortable. You say that you have to eat, and that one of his favorite shows is gonna come on soon. He tells you to wait for him, and you tidy the room a bit to buy him some time. Your stomach is grumbling from all of the stress. You tell him that you can’t wait any longer, that you’re really hungry. He says he’ll be down in 10 minutes.
You go downstairs, set up and cook dinner for two, then turn on his favorite TV show. You call out to him and he grunts inaudibly in response. You say to him that you’re hungry, and that the food’s getting cold. When he doesn’t say anything in reply, you know that he’s asleep.
You eat your meal and watch his show, and around 9:30 you go upstairs and find him swathed in blankets and snoring lightly.