Monday, September 24, 2012
A Woman's Son
My labor began on a Sunday and three days later, on September 7, 1988, I had my first son. To backtrack 9 months….My pregnancy symptoms began around Christmas 1987. With optimism, I suggested the possibility to my husband, who was incredulous to that probability. His skepticism was all the more preposterous as he was fully aware that our equation of M + W – C = Baby. The positive pregnancy results were met with my husband’s responding, “It’s too soon and I don’t think you should have it.”
We were approaching 30 years old and had been together for three years. Categorically, we were not statistically unsuitable of becoming parents. Begrudgingly, passive acceptance of the pregnancy bordering on disdain greeted me for those 9 months. My husband didn’t attend a single obstetrician visit. He was uninterested in feeling the baby kick. He mocked the prenatal classes. He was abusive. He was insulting. He was selfish. He was unsupportive during labor, eventually leaving for several hours to “get a good meal and smoke a big, fat doobie”. When he returned to the hospital, he was so high that the labor nurses kept him from the room during my emergency c-section until my son was born. In recovery, my husband’s first words to me were, “It’s good that you had a c-section; now you won’t be all stretched out.”
In the years that followed my son’s birth, the abuse escalated in a cyclical manner, and two other babies were conceived. One pregnancy was blandly accepted but the final pregnancy was met with furious insistence of an abortion, which I flatly refused and fiercely protected. Despite three gorgeous children, my husband’s behavior consistently became crueler until I knew if I stayed with him, I would die. However, filing for divorce was a huge blow to my husband’s narcissistic ego. If his own wife didn’t want him, what was he worth? The only way he could remedy that was to punish. He had the money, the means and the burning vengeance to take everything from me. Unsatisfied, his sociopathic need for retaliation bled into our children. Our oldest son was devoted to me and cognizant of his father’s malice, but not savvy enough to eventually be sucked into his father’s illness, coerced by monetary devices, and cut off communication with me. When his father mocked him, accused him and announced, “My son is gay!” because he did not need to follow his father’s philandering footsteps, my son was unable to face the vicious ridicule, met a girl and got her pregnant.
Discovering the pregnancy through gossip, my attempts to reach out to my son were in vain as he was so fully enmeshed by his father’s control. As abuse is cyclical, I could only see a future for my son and his soon-to-be-born son mirroring his father’s destiny…a future of pain and retaliation and hurt.
On September 4, 2010, two days before my grandson’s birth, and three day’s before my son’s 22nd birthday, I wrote this poem. It was recently selected as a third prize recipient in an internet poetry competition. So, I felt it should be shared in this forum.
A woman knew a baby, growing within her, destined to be cherished.
A woman felt her baby moving, hoping to share the signs of life with his father who remained distant, cold, uninterested.
A woman knew a newborn, with eyes of melting chocolate and pink cherubic cheeks,
A woman felt her baby boy take hold of her heart, learning how deeply she could love.
A woman knew a little boy, all dimples, tight hugs and laughter.
A woman felt the pain as her son’s father turned away to pursue interests elsewhere.
A woman knew a boy, wise beyond his years, who began to see and speak the truth.
A woman felt the love whispered by her son sharing his thoughts that it was only his mom he knew he could depend upon.
A woman knew a young man, but now, only from photographs and memories.
A woman felt the severed bonds committed by the man she left, bent on revenge despite the damage inflicted on the child they created.
A woman knew a teenaged boy, nostalgic for his mother’s love, yet tainted by his father’s false words and deeds.
A woman felt the joy of reunion, mingling with the pain of the years lost through no fault of her own.
A woman knew her son, once sweet and kind and giving and embracing life’s lessons.
A woman felt the despair on the day her son revealed he had become his father.
A woman knew a father-to-be, and hoped his son would be like the little boy she once knew.
A woman felt an ache in her heart as she prayed the baby would not follow in his father’s footsteps.
A woman knew of a young father, molded from his own father’s anger, who would someday lose his son and feel the agony of unfounded loss.
A woman felt the anguish of losing a son who remained very much alive, just without her.