Last night, I met a man for dinner. This was not our first evening together laughing, joking, telling stories, and eating toys we thought were candy. He is handsome, easy to talk to and fun to dream with. The problem is that he disappears for days at a time. I thought our summer romance had dwindled and I let it go. Disappointed, I did the emotional work to move on.
Last night, there was an opportunity to meet this man for dinner; I had every intention of figuring out what happened, where he disappears to for days at a time, and why he says things like “I miss you” while on a guys trip in South America.
I finally got the courage to ask why he treated me so poorly during our evening and his response was a really ugly part of the human condition I haven't experienced in a while. He told me that because of my decision to place my daughter for adoption, he couldn’t see a long term relationship with me, but, loves spending time with me and wants to do so on a casual level. He explained that he feels like I abandoned my daughter and just gave up the most precious gift. His own experience with his mom who was 19 when she was pregnant with him was the sole basis of his judgement of my decision. She worked 3 jobs to take care of him and put his needs before her own. He said that my decision to place my daughter for adoption made it seem like I just abandoned her.
“Are you mad?” he asked. “No.” I replied. “Those are your feelings and you are entitled to them. They aren’t wrong, they are just feelings.” I spent the next 15 minutes discussing motherhood and how tough that decision was for me. I told him how I put her needs above mine to give her a life I could never provide. I explained why women like me are important in the world. I talked about how mothering is probably the toughest job in the world and how it looks different for everyone. I told him the kids that are in my life get to ask questions they would otherwise be too embarrassed to ask their moms or single dads (not realizing I share with them 99% of the time anyway). Mothering is the most selfless job in the world and my decision was the first, most important motherly decision I’ve ever had to make.
He wanted to still continue to see each other on a casual basis or at the very least still be friends. “I can’t do that. I’m sorry,” I said. He walked me to the door, kissed me passionately and then I left. No more words. My left eye swelled up a bit with tears. I walked to my car and drove away screaming with the windows rolled up.
I’ve never felt more judged, used, relieved and proud of myself all at the same time. Judged because that decision had nothing to do with him and rather than try and understand what that experience was like, I was just dismissed. Used because he was going to continue to string me along and surface when he felt like having some fun female companionship. Relieved because it is over and I now know what the hell happened. Proud because I stood up for myself and was able to say exactly what I needed in the moment I needed to say it.
This experience was a reminder that there is still work to be done regarding educating people on what mothering looks like. People still don’t know about all of the options regarding pregnancy. Pregnancy does not mean you have to abort or keep it, rather, you can abort, keep it, place the baby for adoption (open or closed), co-parent with your own parents, let the father parent the child, or the father’s family parent the child. None of these choices are wrong. They all have consequences that the decision maker(s) must live with but these are choices that only the people in the situation can make. To be judged (eight years later) for any of these choices is not a me problem, it’s a him problem.
To my beautiful birth daughter,
Please remember, when someone judges you for the choices you make, it is because they do not understand your journey. Only you can do what is best for you and no one needs to understand but you.
Stand up for yourself but, be kind to those who are inquisitive and want to understand. These are the people who are trying to make the world a more accepting place. Without smart, patient people like you to explain what it’s like to be you or have your experiences, the world will never grow.
I celebrate you often! I am proud of who you are and look forward to continue to watch you grow from afar.
Your ever growing-increasingly patient birth mom
To the man I saw last night,
Thank you for the much needed reminder that I have a lot of work to do regarding educating people and young women about all of the decisions that you have to make when you get pregnant unexpectedly. I fully intend to take our experience and talk to young women faced with tough decisions, inspire them and comfort them. Sometimes I forget that I have a powerful voice and that I need to use it. So thank you for that.
You let someone pretty amazing walk out of your life last night. I hope I left you with some wonderful life gifts anyway.
A woman refusing to accept your judgement