This weekend, my son's dad came to visit him for this first time since he was born, and it was definitely a learning experience for both of us.
We never really had a relationship to speak of, and much of my pregnancy was spent at one another's throats about the situation we were in. He was there for the birth of our son (he lives in another state) and stayed with me in the hospital, but it was a very tense time and even in first few weeks after that I was very angry at him for a lot of things. Even so, he checked in every single day to ask how the baby was doing and I sent him pictures and videos, and I tried my level best to put aside my hurt feelings for the sake of my child. So when he told me he was going to be coming back home to Idaho to see Little Sam, I felt an overwhelming mix of emotions from anxiousness to excitement -- I wasn't sure how we were going to get along but I couldn't wait for him to see all the amazing changes our baby had already gone through in the six weeks since his dad had seen him last.
We decided that he would stay at my house rather than his parents' so that he would be able to get up during the night with the baby and spend as much time actually doing daddy things as possible. I wasn't entirely sure that I wouldn't smother him in his sleep, though he promised me he'd do his best to stay out of my hair. I wasn't convinced, but I knew the arrangement would be the best for Sam so I made sure the spare bed had clean sheets and gave the bathroom a half-hearted once-over with a Chlorox wipe.
It turned out to be the best decision we could make.
He learned how to make bottles and put Sam in his car seat, and how to give him a bath. He learned how to deal with Sam's fussiness, was there when our doctor diagnosed him with acid reflux and prescribed him medication, and he stayed up nights when Sam wasn't feeling well. When Sam could only sleep in his bouncy chair, his dad slept in the recliner while I slept on the couch, and when Sam was hard to comfort he rocked him to sleep and would sleep with him on his chest for hours, both of them snoring like freight trains. For a whole weekend we went everywhere as a little family unit. It was uncomfortable and awkward at times, but I remembered the good reasons that I had been so fond of him in the first place, and I watched him fall in love with our little boy and glow with pride when he showed his son off to friends and family. We were able to just be parents without any of the other bullshit getting in the way.
We are single parents. We will never be a couple. We have separate lives and that is how it will stay. But we are friends now, I think, and we are a family. His family is extremely welcoming and kind to me as the mother of his child, and my son is surrounded with love. I know someday that Sam is going to ask why his daddy doesn't live with us, but I don't fear that day as much as I used to because whatever the answer, he'll always know that Momma and Dad love him more than anything. He'll always feel that his family is whole -- even if it is a little different -- because we love him enough to put aside any differences that we may have had and put his best interests first. As a mother, that is one of the biggest blessings I could ever receive, and I will forever be grateful for it.