On Sunday, my son Jackson turns 6.
For some stupid fucking reason, I looked up his dad the other night on Facebook. I don't know why. I never do this. Most of the time I forget he even has a dad, to be honest. I know that seems weird, but my time spent with Jack's father has been reduced over the last six years to little more than a blur of unemployment, abuse, him coming home drunk, and the day I moved out of our apartment.
I realized when I looked him up the other night that I had even started to forget what he looked like.
As much as I'm good at forgetting he exists 99% of the time, Jack's birthday is always a day that brings his dad to mind for me.
I remember dreading my birthday my whole life, because neither of my parents ever gave a shit.
Well, more than them not giving a shit, it seemed to be a good excuse for my dad to be extra hurtful and abusive, and for my mom to be even somehow more drunk and absent than usual.
I have weird anxieties about my kids reliving the shit I experienced as a kid. I know I can't stop all bad things from happening to them, but I try to avoid the big shit that really stuck with me. Their birthdays being miserable is one of them.
I make a big fucking deal about their birthdays.
I can't help it.
I don't necessarily blow big money on gifts and expensive shit, but I make sure they know it's a big day. They get whatever they want for breakfast, I leave little notes and small surprises for them all around the house in weird places, they get whatever they want for dinner, one home made cake with just the family, and one fancy store bought decorated one with their friends.
And it pisses me off that their dads don't give a fuck.
I looked Jack's dad up the other night because I wanted to see if he ever posted anything about my son. If, given the fact that his birthday is right around the corner, Jesse would say anything at least about that.
I'm not sure what I expected.
People don't typically talk about the son they abandoned on their social media page, I guess.
But still, when I scrolled through two years of his status updates and pictures and found nothing about Jackson, I was sad. And angry. And frustrated because I know his father's absence will stick with him forever. I know that he will look back on these birthdays, and remember that his dad wasn't there. Frustrated because I can't convey to him at this age that it's better his dad isn't here. I can't make him understand that, and make him look back on the hole Jesse left in his life, with relief that he wasn't raised by that man.
He doesn't know that his dad is bad person.
He just knows he doesn't have a dad.
I guess no matter how much of the past we forget, there are some things we'll always remember.
The scent of my mother's perfume. My dragon birthday cake the year I turned 8. The soft heft of my newborn babies in my arms. The smell of liquor on Jesse's breath at 4 in the morning. And how on the day I left him, I hated myself so fucking much, but still somehow knew that I deserved better. That we deserved better.
I make a big deal out of my kid's birthdays because I want them to remember that they deserve better than people who don't care that they were born.