Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Adventures in Co Parenting: There's no such thing as Part Time Fathers
I enjoy statistics and I enjoy studies that explain how we interact with one another. I prefer to read and decipher those stats and studies then hearing anecdotes about a particular issue. While I have always chimed in about out of wedlock births, I usually keep my personal life out of it. While I am happily married with four children, my oldest son, whom we affectionately call X Man, is an out of wedlock child. I had him with a young woman I met while serving in the U.S. Navy. There are several reasons why I keep him out of the discussion and none of it has to do with shame. If anything X man will be ten times the man I will ever be. Every time we build, I come away with awe. His mother and I have a rocky relationship that seems to get worse.
I keep him out of the discussion because I want my emotions out of the discussion. Speaking of him both pains and inspires me. He is a wonderful child. Any of my friends and relatives can speak on this. Yet during these discussions, I find that if we stick to the science and what can benefit our community, we can figure out the solutions. Emotions get in the way. Instead of having a discussion, our debate becomes a series of bash sessions based on anecdotes and pseudo science.
At times, my detachment comes off as arrogant or counterproductive. This summer I realized that emotion is part and parcel when it comes to the discussion of out of wedlock births. I learned that my oldest boy has cancer. Yes, my beautiful, wonderful and vibrant X man has cancer. It is still sinking in months after I learned about it. It is tremendously sobering. I have faced death on too many occasions and like to think of myself as someone who is not afraid of that dark oblivion. However, this situation has me afraid. No parent wants to bury that child. While my wife tells me not to think about him dying, I am a pragmatist and it is something I have to face.
One would assume that this event would finally force his mother and I to lay down our arms and become civil. It has not. In the end, I blame myself. People tell me I shouldn't. People have argued that even if I went back in time and told myself to fight for full custody like I originally planned, he would be better. I am not stupid. I don't think he would not have been diagnosed with cancer, but is quality of life will be better. He won't feel as beat down emotionally as he tells me he does. He doesn't want our dad/son, master/student relationship to change. He still wants me to be the hellish martial arts instructor he hears my student complain about. He still wants me to keep him on his square. Yet knowing what I know, I hold back not wanting to hurt my boy.
What we adults fail to realize is that eventually we get over the beefs, the drama, and the despair, our babies are scarred for life. No matter what I say, or what I do, X Man will still feel that abandonment. I am still less than in his eyes because I didn't fight for him. I cannot blame him for that since he is right. While on the outside he is the wonderful student, the handsome son, and the popular kid at school, I know that inside he wishes we were side by side.
When it comes to this discussion, I cannot remain emotionally detached anymore. In our case, the beef between mother and father contributed to the declining health of our son. While my son is recovering well being the fighter he is, I know there are many others who have been where he is. T While I cannot change what happened over 16 years ago, we can change what happens from this day forward.
Again, I am a pragmatist but in many ways abstinence is not a bad idea. We need to make better decisions when it comes to who we have sex with. We need to be more demanding of one another as couples. Of course, we need to use protection. This is not just the women's responsibility, it should be the men's responsibility too. We shouldn't look it as protecting ourselves as adults but as setting up a better future for our offspring.
It's a given that I don't get along with my son's mother, but you know what? I will get over it. My son however, will not. He might even die from it. All because his mother and father can't seem to get it right. I wouldn't want to wish what we are going through on anyone. So honestly folks, no wedding, no womb.