Blame. I just want someone to blame, sometimes. And the older I get, the more I realize that often there is no one to blame, nothing to do, no choices to be made.
So what do I do then? I blame myself.
The latest round of blame game in my head comes home to roost in a familiar place. My son’s non existent biological father. Sure, I’ve beat myself up for the last 24 years about how I must have done something to keep him away all of this time. It’s one thing to have it going on in my head, alone, with only me to witness my own personal level of crazy self talk.
It’s quite another when I see the pain evident in my son, as well. That brings a whole new round of it.
My son’s fiancee talked with me a few weeks ago about Z’s biological father’s family and their wedding. It was a conversation I’d had with him a few months ago, when he expressed the fact that he really wanted a representative of that family there. He hasn’t mentioned it since. I had advised him to do a lot of self examination before deciding whether or not to invite the one member of the family he has contact with. I told him he needed to be OK with any of the possibilities of her responses, and to be honest with himself about the whole idea being a longshot.
What I didn’t put on his shoulders was how awful and awkward her presence would be for me, and for everyone else who has been a loving and supportive person in my son’s life throughout his life. It isn’t his burden to bear, and frankly, I know that we would all swallow any amount of bile in our throats to give him what he wants on this one. He wants a connection. He wants to know that part of who he is. The parts that aren’t me and can’t be explained any other way. It hurts me greatly, even though I know it’s not his fault and not intentional in anyway, so I button that up and move on. Or try to.
So he spoke to his fiancee about the whole situation to get her thoughts. And she was so disturbed by how upset he was, that she came to me. She asked me what I thought could be done, should be done. How could we make his biological father choose to be a part of Z’s life. Because it is making him doubt that important part of who he wants to be: a father. How can he be a good father if he knows it is in his DNA to walk away and never look back.
He’s 23 of course. When I was 23, I still believed such things to be true. I didn’t realize that a lifetime alongside a person can change who you are, make you different than maybe other circumstances might have formed you. And, being 23 of course, he still believes in things like miracles and happy endings and neat, simple closures to messy situations by the end of the movie. He doesn’t have the years of the world showing you different tucked neatly under his belt like I do at age 42. Hell, at 42 I still don’t believe that his father has stayed away all of this time. I still wonder if a hangup call is him trying to connect with us. Even after all of this time, I hope that he’ll make things right. And if I feel that way, I certainly can’t blame my kid for feeling that way.
Even though, as I told this young girl who will be my daughter in law soon, I know that he has already chosen. Z’s father has chosen every single day of his life. He has stayed away. Even though I lived for the first ten years of Z’s life in the same place that Joe knew. Even though when I did move away, there was the Internet, and with my work online I was always easily found. Even though I made a point of attending my 20th high school reunion with the hopes of finding him there. Even though now his own aunt maintains an email correspondence with Zach. If Joe really wanted to know his son, be a part of his life, he would. He has chosen, very clearly. We just don’t like what he chose.
I’ve been in a funk the last little while about this, mulling over what, if anything, I should do here. Because I could, if I really wanted to, pick up a phone right now and speak to Z’s biological father. In a fit of obsessive Googling and sheer dumb luck, I found some contact information a few years back that I believe may be credible. Should I reach out to him? Appeal to his conscience? Absolve him of his 24 absent years? Talk of what a credit this amazing kid is would be to him?
I think back to all of the things I wish I’d done differently back when I discovered I was pregnant and the ensuing difficult months where we ended up splitting up. All of the lost chances to make this right, to be the bigger person, to think of my son before myself. So many mistakes I made. Could this be the chance I have to fix all of that?
Or is it just simply time for me to grow up and realize that I did the best I could, under difficult circumstances? That my self blame doesn’t take away the fact that at the end of the day, Joe left his pregnant girlfriend to raise his son alone. Without any financial or emotional help. That sometimes people just are really awful, and that they only have themselves to blame.
I just don’t know. I just don’t know what to do here. I don’t know who to blame. I don’t know who to be mad at. I don’t know how to make this better or right or make sense.