I don’t hate you.
But there’s some stuff you need to know.
The first time I heard your name was over wine and calamari at a little bar in New York City. I was on a first date with the man who would become my son’s father — your ex-boyfriend at the time — and we were going through all those first date details: Exes, favorite food; career goals. You never really came up after that.
He took me on thoughtful dates. One I will always remember was a trip to the famous Books of Wonder in New York City. We milled around rows of children’s books, sat with our backs against the wall; had pie and coffee in the cafe.
It was a whirlwind. He invited me to his work holiday party. We rode the subway to the Upper East Side, mingled with his coworkers at the intimate gathering — and drank a lot of champagne. That night we conceived our son.
When we found out I was pregnant, we talked about our options. We were shocked, happy, confused, and scared. I was all of this with a side of serious hormone fluctuations common in the first trimester and throughout pregnancy. Still, I took a deep breath and we talked about baby names: He liked William, Dylan, and Chloe. I liked Jack and Mia. I liked Dylan for a girl. Then we chose Jack William. And he told me Mia sounded like a soccer player’s name. Those sweet moments were far and few between. Communication broke down on both ends. We argued about where we would live and how we would pay for daycare. At one point he flew home “for work” and I always wondered if it was to see you.
In those early weeks of my pregnancy, I’m sure he was overwhelmed by decisions he, as a man and soon-to-be-father, needed to make. I felt so out of control. A few weeks prior to peeing on that stick, I was thrilled with life, living in NYC with a cute boyfriend — but all that had changed now. And I imagine when you learned I was pregnant — things for you changed too. I know he was and is your great love. You never wanted me around. How many times did you wish you guys never broke up? That he never moved to New York City? Sometimes I wonder similar things: What if I didn’t go to that bar that night with my girlfriends? He and I never would have met. But I’m glad we met. I have the most perfect son.
You know the rest of the story. Everything fell apart and he left New York City and drove back to you. The best way to explain what happened next is just … tunnel vision. I couldn’t run away, now. I was 12-weeks-pregnant and had a sonogram photo on my dresser. Mother to mother: I know you know how amazing it is to see that grainy image and flickering light that is a baby’s beating, real-life heartbeat.
A month or so after he left New York City I saw a photo of you guys online at some dinner or event. I couldn’t believe how fast you guys got back together — arms around each other. I had a little bump and was planning my move back to New Jersey. You reminded me of Brittany Snow. Then I stopped snooping on the Internet. It was too hard. A few months after our son was born, I spoke to your husband on the phone. The baby was lying next to me, as we talked … I can’t remember about what. He asked me if I was OK. I was OK. I had to be OK. I had a newborn to raise. He told me he joined a running group. So I was alone in NJ taking care of our baby and he was enjoying his hobby, dating, working; volunteering. Sometimes I washed dishes with our son strapped to my chest. Do you at least get how I felt about that? His freedom.