Not Your Babymother

Lauren O’Hagan

The following is an excerpt from the book Back Like I Never Left, available for pre-order here.


My first year being a single parent kind of sucked. I left my son’s dad and stopped breastfeeding, but I still wasn’t free. I would rush to work, hate work, then hurry home to my kid. I felt trapped in my own apartment each night.

It didn’t help that the first few guys I talked to also sucked. They each reminded me why I tried so hard to stick with my son’s dad. If they weren’t broke they were ugly, if they weren’t ugly they were lame. There was an ex who had nothing to offer emotionally, a local weedman who was too short for me, drunk men at a club on New Years breathing all in my ear.

Another was a married mechanic, considering a second wife (his wife knew about it). His intentions were clear—he liked me (how I looked and that I was in academia mostly), but he also didn’t believe in leaving a woman who gave up her prime years to him.

Fine. I wasn’t really crazy about the whole thing, but I was bored enough to spend some of his money at least. But before we even got a chance to go out or do anything, he just had to say something dumb. He told me while we stood in the poorly ventilated waiting room of the car place that a bonus for dealing with him would be that he loves kids.

I was like, “okay?”

“Well,” he assured me, “a lot of guys out here aren’t going to be into that, you know a woman with a kid.”

And since he hated that I cursed, I told him, “men don’t give a fuck if I have a kid or not.”

Like nobody is going to fool me into thinking they’re special for being okay with kids. Come on. I’ve met enough men in my life to know that they do not care about that. They’ll take whatever they can get, and I didn’t need to have a kid to know that. I’m not trying to play house anyway.

Meeting men used to be so different. It wasn’t the sludgy, mostly solo mission it is now. It was something I did with my friends. Throughout the week, we’d be meeting or maintaining guys. Then we’d come together on the weekends and be like, “ok, what you got?” We’d all dig into our texts and compare and contrast before going with the best option. Does that sound fucked up? It didn’t feel fucked up at the time.

It wasn’t like we were bums. We had jobs. We were in school. We could go to a bar or restaurant or trip alone (and meet more guys). We were just looking for fun. And if the guys we chilled with were cool, then we’d keep chilling with them here and there to see where it went. It used to seem worth the night to chill with people we didn’t really know because they might turn out to do cool stuff.

Needless to say, a lot of times they were not cool. We’d gotten stranded out of state, in screaming fights, pulled over by the police. Guys turning out to be ugly, guys who were disappointed that we weren’t identical twins. A bunch of stupid shit.

Being thrown back in that exact same dating pool now has made me remember all too clearly the bullshit that comes with meeting new guys. Men just ain’t shit, as a group. They think their little mishap is just that—a mishap. But they don’t realize that they’re ALL doing that shit at the same time, back to back.

Now that I’m older or now I have a kid at home (take your pick), I lose interest fast. I’m also just not as available, and maybe it’s better that way. Now it’s like, don’t try to be spontaneous when we just met. You need to have a plan, and you also need to be a man that I specifically feel like seeing. I’m not rushing my kid around to see you day-of, and I’m not sending him off somewhere if you only have a two-star plan. There’s no way I’m wasting a babysitter for anything even potentially mediocre.

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