I got my first marriage proposal when I was 15. My Arabic boyfriend needed a green card to stay in the country as he had to take time off from school to work to save money to continue his college education. My Mom and I were on welfare, and he offered us a lot of money (for the time and circumstances; wouldn’t sound like a lot to most people) if he and I could get married and then have it annulled a year later, when he’d be a student in good standing again. Mom told me about the offer, which he had made directly to her as he thought that was the proper way to do it, and we both laughed about how crazy the notion was. And then she said, somberly, “I mean, if it was something you wanted to do…” I know we really, really needed the money, but I just couldn’t. I told her I really didn’t want to be married and divorced before I was even out of high school. She completely understood and it was never brought up again. The BF had to go back to his home country and when he returned a year or so later, discovered I had moved on with another guy and that was that.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have had many lovers in my life since then who have thought that I’m the kind of person they’d like to spend their life with, and have been the flattered recipient of several marriage proposals, no others of which were attached with a dowry, thankfully. I look back over my life and think about my lovers, men and women, and feel damned lucky that my life has been filled with so much love. I’m much older now, and am so different. I don’t know how many more years of love await me. I hope it is many. But I have my memories, which are so rich and fulfilling, to fill my heart.
Six years ago next week, I was given the most powerful and transformative love of all, when my child was born. Against many odds, including age, fertility problems and a high-risk pregnancy. I look back over those six years and feel incredible. I worked for so long to get my son into my life, and went through a lot to make it happen. Not a day goes by where I don’t feel so, so lucky that IVF worked the single time I was able to afford to do it, that the pregnancy was as relatively uneventful as it was (save the rear-ender accident that sent me into early contractions at 7 months; they were stopped at the hospital). I spent the first two weeks of his life wondering if I could have really been so lucky to have gotten this living, breathing human to the outside of my body, healthy and safe.
As exhausting, frustrating, expensive and complicated as it is to raise a child, I still feel lucky, every single goddamned day, that I get to be D’s Mom. I really do. And I have been able to be a much better Mom to him on my own than I ever was able to with his father under the same roof. Less total time, but better quality, which is better for both of us. The circumstances that brought his father and I together resulted in this wonderful boy, and so I have no regrets.
I wrote his father a letter, which I gave him as we left court yesterday, and told him to read it later. As we left, we hugged and I cried and he told me it would be ok, and it will be. All that really matters is the boy, and he is better with us out of each other’s lives, as we are happier and thus better parents. In the letter, I just wanted him to know that I will always remember certain things that happened, and that it was special, the journey that led to this amazing miracle child. That I know we will argue but that I will always try to approach him with an open mind and heart, with acceptance and understanding and compromise, as our son deserves that.
He answered me late last night via email, and the upshot was a similar tone to my letter. He also sent me this song and said “the goin’ up was worth the comin’ down.”
I’ll take that.