When people hear I’m a single mom, curiosity often gets the best of them and I’m immediately bombarded with questions about my daughter’s baby daddy. I’ve been through the drill so many times I can recite the questions by heart. It goes something like this:
Acquaintance: “Is your daughter’s father still around?”
Me: “Yes, he lives across town.”
Acquaintance, assuming that all baby daddies fall off the grid: “Does he still take her?”
Me: “Yes, but it’s complicated.”
Acquaintance: “But does HE take her?”
Me: “Yea, but….”
Acquaintance: “No!” shaking their head, “All that matters is that he’s still involved!”
This annoys me to no end because that’s not all that matters. It assumes that as long as a father stays involved with his child, regardless to what extent or other external factors, he’s a good father. That just by showing up, he should be awarded a gold star on his parenting chart. Regardless.
The questions no one asks, but which would be more revealing of Jose, my daughter’s father, is “Does he drink?”
“Is he verbally and emotionally abusive toward you?”
“When you’re at a school event and standing six inches from your daughter, does he refuse to acknowledge you, making your daughter feel guilty for loving her mother and divided between parents?”
“Does he send you threatening texts?”
“Does he pay minimal child support because he cheats on his taxes and then constantly complain to his daughter about all the money he pays?”
No one dare asks any of these, but should they, I would give an emphatic “Yes!”
Jose and I parted ways in 2006. Sadly, there is no co-parenting. Even a simple phone call to share the details of a dance recital or a recap of a doctor’s appointment would send him flying into a rage or slamming down the phone. So I don’t.
In the 10 years since we parted, he has been on a relentless campaign to portray me as a bad parent in an attempt to gain custody. As is, I have full custody and decision making, which is rare in New York.
Hence, I rarely discuss the situation with my daughter’s baby daddy with strangers because it’s such a red-hot mess. The details are so gruesome that it’s embarrassing. From past experience, I know what appears as polite interest can quickly turn to judgment. More than once after hearing about our S&M dynamics, I’ve been asked, “How did you end up with like a guy like that?”
I’m still trying to figure that one out. Years of therapy and introspection have yet to provide an answer.
Recently, Jose trumped up charges and reported me to Administrative for Children Services. More disturbing is he sat in front of my apartment and watched the social worker pay a visit. Then, like a cat showing off the mouse he caught, he flaunted the fact that he reported me to our daughter, under the guise of “I was trying to protect you.”
This is the second time he called and it certainly won’t be the last.
But, as many have pointed out, he takes our daughter Savannah for visitation.