“You need to leave.”
“Not without seeing my son.”
“You’ve got some nerve.”
“He’s. My. Son.”
“Since when? All of a sudden you’re a father. Where were you for his first steps. First day or kindergarten, scrapped knee.”
“You can talk all the shit you want but he’s still my son, and I have rights.”
He knew it wasn’t a valid argument, that she was right. Biology aside, he has never been there for the boy. He wanted to be, so badly did he want to be there for all of that and everything to come, but knew he couldn’t. Not fully. It was futile to fight the inevitable.
His own father had skipped out on his mother. Difference is, he actually got to spend time with his old man before deciding to skip town. Must have been when he was around ten. To this day his mother still refers to his father as “the sperm donor.”
He could tell when his mother looked at him she saw his father. Same eyes, nose, accent, walk, hair texture. His mother has tried not to show resentment towards him but little slips of the tongue make their acquaintance with his ear drum. “I can’t stand you” “you’re becoming just like him” and so on.
He vowed- maybe out of fear of disappointing his mother or wanting to test fate- that should the day come when his own children walked this Earth, he’d be there.
Years crept by and no children. Thought for a while “maybe it’s me.” Feeling like he’d never be good enough because the slips of tongue from his mother. That despite being one parent and having to do twice the work, she chose to do none.
Starved for affection growing up, even that became so difficult to give and accept later in life for him. Even now, as his son’s mother points a finger at his chest berating him with profanity and “ain’t shit” declarations, his hands longed for hers.
He fell in love with his son the moment he held him in the hospital, knew he wanted to be there to teach him how to throw a fastball, a spiral, shoot a free throw. Ride bikes with him in spring and summer. Binge on cartoons Saturday mornings while talking about life. The other feeling, however, was ever present. Fear.
“What if I can’t do this?” The same question his father told him years later during a dinner secretly arranged. He was more like his father than he knew.
He knew if he can be around for his son’s developmental years he’d grow up to know what it was like to have a loving father, something he never experienced. Perhaps that’s what allows the fear to take refuge in the hearts of men no matter the level of resistance.
His own son, at the age of ten now, should he stick around, will have a better understanding of the emotions a man has for his son. But these are just nothing but excuses he’s telling himself as his heart sets up for another inevitability.
He still has to try. It’s his son, after all. Maybe he can do this…