Hey, Mom? Remember that girl I was seeing a few months ago?"
"Well, she told me that she's pregnant and that the baby's mine."
In my head, a warp-speed montage of every moment of his 16 years: his birth, his first day of school, his laughter, his growing confidence, his man-voice, excitedly sharing his dreams for life after high school...
Also in my head: Holyshitholyshitholyshit
From my mouth: "Ok, then. Unexpected. How do you feel about that?"
"I don't know. Terrified, maybe? I mean, it's possible, I guess. We used a condom and she's on the pill, she said...but...do I offer to pay for an abortion, or do we share the baby, or...what?"
For what it's worth, there is nothing in any parenting book that had prepared me for this conversation, to hear those words come out of his mouth. Am pretty sure that mine dropped open, as my brain scrambled to process everything he was saying, asking, seeking.
In my head: Holyshitholyshitholyshit
From my mouth: "First, get all the information. Text her directly, now.
Secondly, ultimately, you need to support whatever decision she comes to. Her body, her choice."
"Ok, but if she decides to have the baby, how does that work? Does she keep it, or do I get to be, like, a father?"
In my head: He said get. Not have to. Get your shit together here, woman, and DO NOT cry.
From my mouth: "You would be, yes. A father."
"But...how do I do that?"
In my head: Why are you asking me? I've been a mother for 16 years, and clearly, I have NO IDEA what I'm doing!
From my mouth: One breath at a time, baby. One breath, one moment at a time.
Also, from my mouth: Holy shit.
This particular parenting moment ended in no actual pregnancy, some fiercely-worded texts between another woman's baby and mine...and an aching sense of loss.
Not for the child-that-wasn't. But for the children they were, a moment ago...and who they are, no longer.