I’ve been single since before Boogie was born. I was not with his father while I was pregnant or any time after that. I’ve dated since he was born. I’ve met people I liked but I’ve never introduced him to any of them. It didn’t seem necessary. None of them lasted that long and I didn’t want to complicate things that weren’t that complicated to me. I’ve even hung out—dated is a strong, strong word—with a few single fathers; we’d talk about our kids, but I didn’t want to meet theirs and they didn’t need to meet mine. Plus, I wasn’t sure what was appropriate anyway. Like, do you intro your kid after two dates? After two months? After sex? And if I already knew going in that whatever it was I was doing with this guy wasn’t a “long term thing,” then what was the point of an introduction anyway? Had I met someone that felt like relationship material, I would have been screwed because, really, I didn’t know how to respond or react to that. I figured I’d burn that bridge when I got to it. I haven’t been to it yet.
Not even close.
But there was this man I met about four or so months ago. I actually liked him a lot. He was a single father and his son was his entire life and everyone else who was in his life knew his son, too. That was weird for me because I didn’t think it made much sense to meet his son if we weren’t actually in anything. It makes sense for Boogie to know my friends. I mean, everyone that’s in my life has met or will meet him if the opportunity arises. I guess it says a lot about my mind (and why I remain single) that I separate my friends from “men I like.” This particular man didn’t have such divisions.
We set up a play date that consisted of our two boys playing in the living room while we sat and talked and drank wine. I wrote about it last Halloween in my Bringing Up Boogie post, "Pumpkin Patches, Pumas & Play Dates: When Parenting Solo Takes On New Meaning." It was all too “family-oriented” for my taste. That situation has since run its course. Very recently actually. And I’ve been thinking about what happens now. Boogie absolutely adored him and his son and still speaks of them both—always asking when we’re going to see them and if he can call the son and invite him to go to the library with us.
See, this was exactly what I was trying to avoid. That attachment. I change the subject or say, “Oh, he’s with his mommy now and they don’t live around here.” Or make up something else.
The man in question is an amazing father and he was very good with Boogie. There was no weirdness. I was weird because as a mother, I wouldn’t want some random woman being all Carol Brady with my child, so I had more of a hands-off approach the first time I met his son. Plus I’m kind of scared of other people’s children. The next couple of times (there weren’t that many) I tried a bit harder to not be so scared of the idea of interacting with them. It’s a fine line and I was anxious about crossing any. But I did watch as Boogie grew wide-eyed with this idea of a “not uncle and not grandpa” with whom he got to wrestle around and play Nerf guns (God help me) and hide-n-seek.
The last time the boys were together I noticed that Boogie was getting very comfortable with them and that worried me because there was no sign that this “thing” was really going anywhere.
I don’t want to put all my business in the street but even that last time was a weird space and part of me regrets ever bringing Boogie into the picture because now what? And I mean that for myself, too: “Now what?” I kinda got attached my damn self. I realized that the “hanging out” I was doing prior to this was because I was too scared to really get involved with anything or anyone. I was making subconscious decisions about men/boys that I knew weren’t a long-term match just because I wanted to avoid that inevitable confusion. I’m the kind of person who sees the end before I see the path. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
This time, I saw the end and it didn’t look that bad. Actually, I liked it. I let myself get comfortable with it. For good reasons. I’m not sure how much I’ve spoken about my post pregnancy body here, but while I was pregnant with Boogie, I also had ten pound growth/tumor/mass/whatever in my uterus. It was a very high-risk pregnancy and there were times when—well, let’s just say it wasn’t fun. I had the mass removed when Boogie was two months old, so between the time he was born and the time I had the surgery, I still had a ten pound mass in my uterus. I looked six months pregnant AFTER I was pregnant. It was dicey and embarrassing when I was out with an obviously newborn baby and still looked like I was carrying another one, and I became very uncomfortable with my body. And after I had the surgery to remove the mass, not only did I have this ugly scar down the middle of my belly, I also had this flabby and stretched mark lump of skin. I’m a small person—about a size 2/4 in dresses. But no matter what I do, that skin isn’t going anywhere. Because of that, I avoided intimate situations. Not to say I didn’t have them—a girl’s got needs. But I avoided getting too close. I kept at least a T-shirt on at all times. I never ever got naked. I avoided mirrors and hated looking at myself without a shirt on. It made getting close to men very difficult because there would always be that barrier—something disconnected.
I bring this up because this last situation, he wasn’t having it. The others just accepted it and didn’t talk or touch or whatever, but this one made me feel beautiful for the first time in years. I didn’t feel disfigured or ‘broken.’ He was very comfortable with the scar and often placed his hand on my belly as we slept. I didn’t realize how much that meant to me as far as my personal need to feel loved that way. I thought I could go the rest of my life avoiding that and then here comes this person who challenged me and challenged it. I mean, we had actual conversation about this scarred elephant that I’ve avoided for four years.
So here I have this man that’s met my son and met my scars and didn’t run from either. And then there’s me who loves to run and hide. And as soon as I started getting a little comfortable, things ended. There’s always a reason.
This one is too complicated and too personal to really get into, but the same way that Boogie felt “something” with this new friendship, so did I. You would think that it would make things easier moving forward—you know, now that I’ve been here and now that I know what it looks like, I should be ready for the next one. But it doesn’t get easier. And I’m not ready to go there again. If anything, it makes me wish I hadn’t even been there. I’m not one of those, “It’s better to have loved and lost” people. Fuck that. Don’t show it to me if I can’t have it.
I guess Boogie and I have even more in common than I thought.
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About our MBB Contributor:Bassey Ikpi is a Nigeria-born, Oklahoma-bred, PG County-fed, Brooklyn-led writer/poet/neurotic. She’s half awesome, a quarter crazy and 1/3rd genius... the left over bit is a caramel creme center. She’s also the single mother of an amazing man-child, Elaiwe Ikpi. Get more Bassey at basseyworld.com
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