If I were to give you a description of myself in four words, they would be 'Dad, Architect, Writer, Entrepreneur' in that order. That's what I do. More people know me in the context of the third word than any of the others, which is, I suppose, as it should be. But I'm most proud of the work I've done in the first slot - that's my true legacy. This semester the Little Bowens almost hit a trifecta. We got almost three 4.0 GPAs. It was marred by one B+ in math. I just got back from the parent-teacher conferences at the local middle school and one of the teachers practically asked how I did it. So now I think I'm bold enough to share some of the few things I know about being Dad.
I"m just about through with Meg Meeker's book and it's almost shocking how much I get it, and how easily I or any parent can fall prey to believing we are powerless. I have received some simple affirmations about things that I feel in my gut and I am really stunned and relieved. I am stunned to see how far one can get from common sense, and I am relieved to find that all it takes is work, in fact the kind of work I actually like to do. But that's just a small fraction of the equation. If I'm going to enter this trope, I've got to deliver some background.
You see, I'm not married to my son's biological mother, and he was born without the benefits of married parents. It wasn't until he was two years old that he came to live with The Spousal Unit and I, and it wasn't until he was about six or seven that I had gained final custody. He visits his biomom during the summer and holidays and their relationship is improving, but as a father I never had any sense of peace or closure for seven years. But I still remember the day that I decided to take charge of the situation and do whatever I could for the good of my son, and I never looked back, but it wasn't always that way.
I'm not going to spend much time going into the ugly details of the beef I had with Boy's biomom, but I can assure you that people have been murdered for much less. It involved cops, counselors and eventually courts. It involved family, property, work and warrants. It involved criminals, drugs, money and cab rides at 3 in the morning. It involved lawyers, teachers, friends and people in the street. It was a huge, huge hassle. The only thing that kept me going was my absolute certainty that I was going to do right by my boy, but half of the above drama started before I knew she was pregnant. This was a pregnancy that I was told shouldn't happen, happened and was told wouldn't finish, and finished anyway. Trust me, I have heard every single lie it is possible for a woman to tell a man. So there was a long time during which I was planning to have nothing to do with 'it'.
I could not imagine, before Boy was born, how much his life would mean to me. And I could not imagine how difficult it was for me to deal with the hand I had been dealt. But I was playing those cards and I never got dealt a hand I couldn't bluff my way out of. I thought I was invincible. I was 32 years old living in the generation before AIDS and I was never at a loss for company. In fact between the time I was 18 and 32 I had never gone more than six weeks without a mate. I was busy. Too busy.
Once I finished my own pity party and began to look to the welfare of my own flesh and blood, things became crystal clear. I am one of the fortunate fathers who was able to demonstrate to the courts that the best interests of the child lay primarily with me. I have met others as well, an interesting fraternity. These days Boy is doing sterlingly well, and one of the things I intend to do is to send an update to the officers of the Family Court that helped me in my personal battle to make my family right.
Every parent has a number of struggles that they must endure for the benefit of the integrity their family. I just wanted to share a bit of joy and pain.