Sunday, May 13, 2007

Falling in Love with My Wife's New Baby

Ah, heck. Maybe because it's Mother's Day. Maybe it's because I'm making a roast beef and pepperjack sandwich for myself, rather than cooking for my family. Maybe it's because I've been away three weeks, just got back and leave in two weeks for nearly two months.
Whatever it is, today has been harder than I would have thought. My son Italo and his girl Sarah, who lives here, left early for a soccer game. My son Marco slept at mom's, up the road two miles or so, last night. Madeleina, my 10-year-old, is finishing a sleep-over with a girlfriend that she left for yesterday afternoon. My wife/ex-wife, Chepa, her boyfriend came into town for mother's day, so we cancelled the reservations we had so she could get a little love. And with her she took her new baby--his too--Sierra, for a day with my ex-in laws.
So maybe I'm just feeling sorry for myself that nobody called to wish me a happy mother's day--since I've been a single father for 10 years now. Or maybe it's the beer, though I didn't have many at the bar. But mostly what I'm feeling is that I want to tell little Sierra that I love her. I've been raising her since she was born, since the boyfriend/father left town after Chepa got pregnant. Sierra isn't mine, biologically. But then neither are most of my other kids. But I've been raising them since they were weaned and if you cut us open I believe you'd find the same DNA after all these years.
But this new baby, she's definitely not mine. Still, despite me telling her to call me Pe-Ter, calls me Pe-Ter, daddy. ANd I don't allow that. But today, for instance, she came with Chepa at 5 AM and I was still sleeping and I woke up to find this 17 month old baby crawling onto the couch and behind my legs saying: "Pe-Ter, Daddy. Ahhhhhhh."
And the problem is that I've fallen in love with her, against my wishes. Her real dad will sort his issues out--nothing bad, just child support from his last marriage--and then he and Chepa will find a place to live and then I'll be forgotten and they'll be the family they should be. But that hasn't happened for the first 17 months. There have been visits and so forth, but mostly I change diapers, I make milk, I take her to museums and teach her the difference between edible leaves and non-edible leaves. And every day she needs to go over the 17 skulls I have on the shelf, noting the differences--her fingers fit into the eyes of some animals, and into the nose of others--and sniff the holy orange water to blow it on me so that I'm sopla'd--just as I do her. And she sucks down a few drops of my coffee while sitting on my lap at the computer and begs for a hit off the cigarette I've always got lit and repeats "hmmmm" when I can't figure something out, and changes the computer screen in frustration when she misses something, just like me.
So the problem is that I've fallen love with my wife's new baby and she's not mine. And that's already breaking my heart. Because she'll leave to be with her real dad someday soon. And all I'm allowed to do is hope it's sooner rather than later.
But that doesn't mean it's not killing me inside, okay? So even this tough guy, this New York tough guy, this guy who's run into a gun battle unarmed-once--another story--and been bitten by a bushmaster and a brown recluse and a caiman and vampire bats--even this tough guy is soft for kids. And especially my wife's kids, which include mine and some that are not mine.
And I don't like the thought that I'm gonna lose her soon. And I'd like to think she'd be better off with me. But that's just meloncholy. Truth is, she ought to be with her father, whether I think he's the cat's meow or now. And the heck with me, I'm just a substitute till the real thing comes along.
But it sure can louse up a mother's day, eh?

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