I might still be married if we hadn’t decided to have a baby.
Still lying under the sheets next to a beautiful man. Still wearing that heirloom diamond ring I loved staring at so much. Still cooking dinner for two (adults). Still hopelessly devoted to an institution I’ve had faith in since childhood.
If only my son hadn’t been born, I would still be coming home to a husband of my own. I would still be waking up on a Saturday to the sight of my young groom making me breakfast because he never forgot when I told him on our fourth date that pancakes always taste better when they’re made by someone else.
I blame my son for changing me. He’s to blame for what I saw staring back at me in the mirror ever since becoming a mother. It’s his fault that I am no longer married to his father because it’s his fault that I discovered my self-worth. I point the finger at him for showing me that I deserved more and for guilting me into the idea that he deserved more than to see his mother’s spirit wither away with each passing year.
It seemed that my baby’s sole motivation behind that first blood-curdling scream in the delivery room was to destroy the neurosis that blocked my heart. He will forever have to live with being the one to prove how wrong I was so many years before when I had the “revelation” that I was not capable of falling in love. This idea came about as I developed into a teenager then a young woman, and yet no matter how badly I wanted one of those countless dates to result in me falling head over heels, a compelling force of dread within me destroyed them all in countless ways.
So when the most good-looking 22-year-old kid I had ever seen walked into the restaurant I was working at and sat at my table, I felt lucky. If I was incapable of being in love then at least I could make a real home with the most handsome man that had ever asked for my phone number.
And even when reality hit me like a ton of disappointing bricks as my ex and I began to get to know the other, I still felt lucky. Although accepting his proposal would mean I would be forfeiting any chance of knowing what true love felt like, I also saw it as a fleeting opportunity. The ignorance of my youth accepted this was my fate, while our dreams of having a family of my own never dulled.
What a poor, stupid, shallow, and ridiculous little girl I was.
And then our child destroyed it all. I remember holding him, just hours old, as I stared at his tiny form in complete awe. Finally, it happened. Finally, I had fallen deeply, madly, and insanely in love.
I noticed his big brown eyes had not stopped studying my face since the moment he was placed in my arms. I felt self-conscious under his innocent scrutiny. As he was trying to decide who I was, my chest felt heavy with humiliation—who I was, who I had become, did not deserve the honor of having the title as his mommy.
Someone so perfect belonged with a strong, confident, and brave mother. Instead, I had become just another sad soul who had lost her head in her own Disney fantasies and the empty promises marriage brought. A statistic. A prisoner in my own self-destruction. Too pathetic to stand up for herself, too much of a coward to walk away, too manipulative to allow my husband to do so, either. And for that, Mr. Flores, I am truly sorry.
We both deserved more than the lie we were living, yet nothing could stop my heart from breaking like thin glass when I looked across the room at my husband. For I knew the foreign feeling of self-worth that began to course through my veins would only grow stronger each day as the love for my child grew. My now ex-husband later admitted that the new me, the mom me, was so palpable that he knew that with the birth of our son came the death of his pitiful little wife. I left him seven months later, and he never protested.
A seven-pound baby boy, the same baby boy we had prayed for night after night, both of us just kids desperate for unconditional love, abolished any chance of our marriage surviving by forbidding me to be anything less than the strong female role model every child deserves in their life.
Although I have yet to fall in love romantically, I have my child to blame for showing me that my heart will be capable when the time comes.