So, the other day, James and I were doing a few fun things around town and we ended up pretty close to his father's house. He'd previously said he would be available about the time that we were there, so I texted him and told him where we were and asked if he wanted to meet up with us.
He said he'd show up shortly. That he was going to take a shower, etc.
He showed up way before I figured he'd have had a chance to have a shower. He was still in dirty soccer clothes, and that was fine, but his game was at 8am and it was now after 2pm. You'd think he'd've had the opportunity to get cleaned up. Ehhh. Whatevs. Dirty clothes, smelly guy, it's not extraordinary for him to be like that.
He turned his head slightly to the side and there it was... it took me a minute to register what I was seeing. Then, I said to him quietly, "Do you know that you have a hickey?"
He said, "COOOL!!! Where?"
I gave him a look, "Where do you THINK? That's really gross!"
My heart started to race. All I could think was: "HOW TOTALLY DISGUSTING AND TRASHY! Then, I thought, OH MY GOD SOMEONE IS GOING TO SEE THAT AND THINK _I_ DID IT. Then I thought, THEY'RE GOING TO THINK THAT ALL THREE OF US ARE TRASHY! I CAN'T LET ANYONE THINK JAMES IS TRASH! I can't believe this guy would show up like that and expect us to hang around being associated with him. This is not what a good father would do. As a good mother, I would never be like that around James. GROSS. GROSS. GROSS. The only thing to do is to leave. We have to go. Right now."
While this was processing, he said something like, "What am I supposed to do about it? Put make up on it?" And I tried to be polite and change the subject while the gears and flywheels in my brain raced. We chit chatted a little. They lost their soccer game. The event James and I came to was cool. I handed him a sample I'd gotten from somewhere, but I was getting more and more agitated and it was a huge struggle to contain it. Finally, I knew that if we didn't go, I wouldn't be able to hold back so I told him quietly and politely that we really had to leave. He didn't understand why. I tried to explain as calmly as possible, but was rapidly failing... it felt like the hair on the back of my neck was starting to stand up, so I just started walking. He followed. I finally barked at him that he needed to not follow because we couldn't be around someone so effing trashy with a disgusting hickey on his neck. He asked where we were going and I said, "Away from you."
And that's where we went.
He sent me a text message, "When you cool off, you should come back."
However, the disgusting mark would still be there, so I didn't reply or return.
In my opinion, (and I am not an expert, but I did get my BA in Psych with a focus on Human Mating), publicly viewable hickeys are a sign of an incompetent (or inexperienced) lover, and/or someone very possessive or insecure. Marks like that aren't amusing or cool, they are (and should be) embarrassing. At our age, especially as parents, they are trashy to the extreme. You'd think someone in their 30s wouldn't think hickeys were "cool" anymore. As a competent and thoughtful lover, you don't want to mark up your partner so that they wander around looking like they battled a cephalopod, or a failed vampire, or a curling iron or something. If you want to be possessive, why not just pee on your partner? I guarantee that almost no one will want them after that, especially if they shower irregularly.
Anyway, later I was finally a little more able to articulate my feelings succinctly and mostly unemotionally on the matter and sent him the following text:
"I'm glad you want to hang out with James. However, you need to think about what kind of role model you want to be and what you want people to think of him. You can trash up yourself and your life however you want but you better come proper when you're with him. I'm not raising trash. I'm raising someone who could be a hero one day."
I received no reply. That is also far from extraordinary.
It's frustrating to me because I feel like I shouldn't have to tell him that what's okay for someone who is a single, non-parent is oftentimes NOT what's okay for you when you are a parent. Despite the fact that he goes out all the time and parties exactly the same way he did pre-child, he, in fact, is NOT child free. He is (supposed to be) a parent.
In my mind, being a parent is kind of like being the President. People hold you to a higher standard... or at least they SHOULD, and you should try to live up to that... especially in front of your child.
I know he didn't originally want to be a parent, but he's mostly changed his tune (when he finally stopped suggesting that I should've had an abortion even though our child was already born, it was a big step) and now he's started saying that he wants to be a good parent and even doing a few things to achieve that end (he bought babyfood and a crib and cleaned his place). The desire to be a good parent is a Great Start... but wanting to be something and actually being something are two different things. It's the difference between being someone with incredible potential and being someone who actually IS incredible.
As the time passes and I continue to find myself being mother to both my child and to his father, I understand more and more how and why a woman would choose to raise her child alone. Even with that growing understanding, I still believe that his occasional positive contributions to his son are worth putting up with the occasional "WTF?!" moments. I just want my son to grow up to be a very good man: responsible, truthful, honorable, loyal, yes, I want him to have fun but I don't want him to be a complete hedonist, I want him to be a classy guy, a gentleman with a backbone, someone who doesn't take advantage of others, and who protects himself from being taken advantage of, I want him to be compassionate, and strong. I want my son to be the kind of man that people look up to.
I worry that I won't be able to protect him from bad influences, I worry that he'll take the wrong lessons from things he sees. I know that I am far from perfect myself, and knowing my faults inspires me to be a better person. All I can really do is love him with everything I am, minimize contact with gross and bad things as much as possible, explain as much as I can when I can't keep those things away from him, and hope for the best.
I have never completely run out of hope or love... even if my patience and good will occasionally get tapped out.
What do YOU think about hickeys?