The difficulty of co-parenting with a baby daddy.

Baby daddies aka men who abandon their own aka absentee fathers. If there’s one question I would ask such guys who dodged the altar, it would be, “What on earth were you thinking?”

A second question would be, “How do you even sleep at night knowing that your offspring is somewhere out there?”

Ever so often, we have a dude resurface, wishing to be a part of the child’s life; he saunters back with confidence, like a red carpet should be rolled out for him, while you as Baby mama is expected to shut your eyes and sweep everything under the carpet, in the ‘spirit of forgiveness’ and be happy in the new co-parenting position; friends who can gab about former pre-pregnancy times as if there was no in-between where you both felt like using each other’s images as knife-aim practice.

How does that go?

It can be difficult.

Two weeks after we reconnected, and a week after I’d sent him a vicious e-mail, with a below-the-belt hit; comparing him to an anonymous sperm donor for his minimal contribution to our daughter’s upkeep; I found myself laughing at jokes Baby daddy was cracking over the phone.

He’s being all sweet and a wee-bit flirty. Deja-vu all over again; channeling the softer version of himself; the one I met over a decade ago, that cared so deeply he made me giddy with love, and left my friends feeling a little envious and enamored.

After we both hung up, I banged my head on the wall for cackling out loud. I had rehearsed one word icy responses for times like this, “No” “Yes” “Maybe” “Fine”..but he had called late morning, certain that our kid was in school. I wasn’t prepared, it felt much like I’d walked into a booby trap. I’d been ambushed. Smart guy.

My guard is still up though. He doesn’t get a free pass. There are a few things being a single mum in Europe has done to me. I feel jaded, my psyche eviscerated. I’m pretty much done giving hoots.

For the sake of my daughter, I’ve found myself bending a little, my hard heart has become pliable. She’s growing, and her questions have evolved to take a life of their own. They are more profound, with some depth to them. A bilingual child, her command of complex English vocabulary is impressive.

It was easier to keep her all to myself when she was a drooling, pooping baby. All she required was to be fed, kept warm, entertained and look pretty.

Whenever her dad would send those carefully worded emails which passed off a vibe of someone subdued and battle-weary; my altar ego feral-Felicity roared out of the shadows. She did a good job of making him feel small, kicked his ass by three point formatted responses…a) we were not friends, b) he was not allowed anywhere near my house, and c) he was free to see his child but he’d have to go through the courts for official visitation rights.

Now, my daughter has morphed into a pre-pubescent on an independent path of her own and I’m trying to keep up with her whims. I’ve found ways to fill the gaps in my own life. Travel is my new love. I flirt endlessly with countries and cultures in all their idiosyncrasies. If I was to have dinner with Abraham Maslow; I’d tell him in between bite-sized spoonfuls of tiramisu, that an increased income to really travel, and not intimacy were my second greatest needs.

For my daughter; the trips, the bonding, the shopping and our girly, mother-daughter dates have hardly compensated for lack of a father. She’s not so much into travel. She gags at foreign food, gets irritated at beggars who rush to us in some of these countries, chafes with disgust when we have to stay in hostels as opposed to sponsored trips in five-star accomodation with perks such as spas and jacuuzis, gets tired and bored when we’re on walking tours. She mostly wants to stay at home and play with friends during vacation times, while I’m imagining her to want the same things I craved for at her age; to travel with my folks.

Our ride from Krakow to Lviv

Candy from a vendor in Lviv, Ukraine.

So one night as I lay down beside her, to help her hit the snooze button faster, she brought up the topic of her dad in an all so familiar whisper. I got down to her level; feeling sorry that my poor choices had brought her into these circumstances, feeling sorry that she’s had to make do with an absentee father while I had the best relationship with an ever-present dad.

We prayed to our Father who art in heaven. We prayed for her dad to get in touch with her, or for a new father. I had been routing for a new dad for her, though in a somewhat lackluster manner seeing as such that a couple of fleeting fancies had confessed that they wouldn’t be into a woman ‘who’s always jetting off.’ They were fond of talking about romantic walks on the beach with a glowering sunset in the background, sashimi and lobster; while I would be yapping about concerts, hiking and a deep-sea dive.

Mostly, where travel was involved, they would just want to see one country, have a chilled out vacation while my choice was to see two or three countries at a go. So backpacking alone with my girl was more appealing to me.

You can say the fleeting fancies haven’t received Maslow’s memo.

I was flat out opposed to tracing her dad in Amsterdam where he last stayed, but she had my blessing to do so when she was eighteen. Putting this issue into God’s hands would grant me some breathing space, a respite.

As Christians,believing in the goodness of God, we are not meant to be shocked at the speed God answers our prayers. At least not because we’ve been preached to over and over, that God always answers, but that the answer may come as a yes, or no, a maybe or a miracle. I believe God answered the little one’s prayer speedily probably to develop her young faith, to show her that He was not only the God in her bible stories who shut the mouth of lions when Daniel was in the cave with them, or kept Jonah in the belly of the whale for three days and nights; but that he was a God of today, an alive God who was able to bring her dad back to her. So while she had questioned why God hid Himself, why she couldn’t see Him, at least she could testify to the invisible God answering her requests.

Now that I have permitted the father of my daughter communication, she chats with him on phone the times he calls sporadically. He has let me know that he finally got his doctorate, and that he landed a position in Kenya. “Kenya is a very beautiful country,” he says, and blurts out to everyone that his kid is half-Kenyan, and that he would love to stay long-term.

He vaguely quips that, “One day I will be in Kenya, and he will be in Kenya and our daughter will be in Kenya; and we’ll all be in Kenya together.”

I bristle with impatience when he talks like that; we’ve both lived in Europe for a reasonable amount of time. You’d suppose that ‘dutch directness’ or saying things bluntly would have rubbed off on him but no, he still prefers to skirt about in circles. He calls it being diplomatic. I don’t care much for diplomacy. What I expected was for him to hit the ground running, to take up the child support baton immediately instead of dilly-dallying with rhetoric and niceties. For Christ’s sake, it’s been a decade already.

My e-mails have come down a notch in their tone, but I still complain when I note inconsistencies.

His communication with our girl leaves alot to be desired. Signing off a call each time with the promise to call the following day, then next calling after a week or so, leaves a bitter taste in her mouth; an urge deferred when she’d like further communication to familiarize herself with the man she calls dad. Her requests to skype so that she can see him face-to-face have been brushed aside. Not okay.

On my part, I find the flirting not the least bit endearing. It is actually a source of irritation. I welcome a thought out plan, a road-map if you may, for our daughter’s future.

For him to be vague about plans but serious with jokes is a time-wasting loop meant to distract. I wouldn’t want to place my focus on trying to decipher the enigma that he is. I’m giving a chance for co-parenting, but I’m a-woke. God knows I’m awoke.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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