Not Your Babymother

cover art by Louren 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 wanted to just stick with my baby’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, I guess), but he also didn’t believe in leaving a woman that gave up her prime years to you. Fine. I wasn’t really crazy about the whole thing, but I was bored enough to spend some of his money at least.

Then, before we even got a chance to go out or do anything, he just had to say something dumb. He told me 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 weren’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, you’re not going to fool me into thinking you’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 shit. These guys will take whatever they can get, and I didn’t need to have a kid to know that. I’m not trying to play house with ya ass 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. Like, 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 anyway. 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 and 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 shit.

Needless to say, a lot of times they were not cool. We’ve 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—by myself—has made me remember all too clearly the bullshit that comes with meeting new guys. Men really 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.

cover art by Lauren O’Hagan

But now that I have a kid at home, I lose interest fast. I’m 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’d really just rather chill with my son than be on a bad date. I’m not rushing him around to see you day-of, and I’m not sending him off somewhere if you only have a two-star plan.

And if I end up wasting a babysitter on you and you do some dumb shit, that’s an even bigger problem.

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