Mersina’s dad wrote a piece for my blog for last year’s Father’s Day. It was quite an honest account of him becoming a father. He mentions not speaking to me for months while I was pregnant, being told by his father to have nothing to do with the baby once it was born and how he had a tough time deciding what to do with that advice, or order, as he puts it.
There is mention of me in the article, in passing. I’m the one that carried the baby and would be accompanying the baby if we were out and about. I am the silent other. The accessory, if you will. After nine months of pregnancy and four months of raising a baby, I was the footnote in this, his, story. Well, that’s fair enough.
My aim, while pregnant, was to make the baby’s world a loving one. I didn’t want hate towards her father to get in the way of any part of her existence. I didn’t want those emotions colouring her life. He wasn’t planning to be part of that existence anyway so it wasn’t too difficult to put my attention on the positive parts of it all. When Mersina was born, I had a new focus. Her dad decided to be part of her family after all.
In the article which he wrote and sent to me he mentions a type of dark night of the soul experience. Battling with being and not being a father. He mentions deciding to be one. He doesn’t mention how he came to that conclusion. Three days before I was due to give birth he suggested we meet for coffee at the Watershed, a local cafe. Since I could barely walk from the pain of SPD and I was anticipating an unhappy discussion I asked him to come over instead.
He came by and told me that he had talked to his parents and it had been awful. He had been told to not have anything to do with the baby and he had decided on a few things. He couldn’t be a father in the way that I wanted, he was worried that I would ask him to do something that he couldn’t do.
He couldn’t provide any financial support at all, no schooling no anything. He still wanted to meet the baby and could maybe see her once a week. He told me that we could never be together and if there was any hope in my heart that I just had to let it go. I think that the cruellest sentiment he expressed was that because I had already decided to be a single mother that the lack of financial support shouldn’t matter. I was going to do it on my own anyway.
What does someone say to that? I don’t know. I’d had three weeks of not exactly effusive joy that he wanted to be a father, but rather a slow build-up of hope that he would be involved and that my little daughter would have a daddy in her life. Three weeks. He then took it away and left me with the darkest two weeks of my life just before I gave birth.
That part wasn’t in the piece. The 39 weeks of pregnancy that were punctuated by falling asleep in tears, holding and cuddling my teddybear, which is now my daughter’s, because I had no one else, weren’t mentioned. I don’t think they even register.
The despair and the constant battle not to hate this person who was so utterly indifferent to me don’t play a part and that’s fine. The piece never went up on my blog.A week after he sent it, he told me that the other person who had received it wasn’t happy that it would be published elsewhere apart from her magazine. His solution was to send me a smaller post for my blog which would be more appropriate.
So he did. I didn’t publish that either. What I thought then is what I thought at the kitchen table when he told me for the second time that he couldn’t be a father. You never fail to disappoint me. And that was true but at least he was honest.
It is in the spirit of this honesty that I wanted to write something so more than one voice can exist about this moment in our lives. I don’t want Mersina looking back on our history and thinking that it is only her father’s voice which presents the honest narrative. Like other women in history, I didn’t want to be the one whose story of silent support was lost in the public action.
His story is available in the magazine Lionheart which has its second issue out now. It should be available in most places.Tweet