10. Describe your most embarrassing moment.
Embarrassing moments are usually funny once you get away from what happened and gain a little perspective. For example, when my new, shiny red, slick-bottomed shoes which I ridiculously decided to wear to the Friday night football game caused me to slip and sit down hard on the concrete in front of the cool kids, I was horrified. Years later, I see how foolish it was to choose those shoes. The entrance area to the football field sloped at about a 45-degree angle. The cool factor created by my awesome shoes was not enough to offset the awfulness of taking a tumble in front of kids I idolized.
Many years have passed since that happened, and I doubt any of those kids have thought about that moment. Surely, they have not thought about it as many times as I have, but that’s sort of the nature of embarrassing moments – the person to whom it happens may relive it a million times, but the people who witnessed it probably never think of it again.
My most embarrassing moment is actually two moments that are related to one another, both of which I have relived in my mind more times than I care to count. They are not moments that replay now as a funny accident or as stories I wish to share when giving an example of something foolish I did. My moments are sad and frustrating, and they make me wish I could go back in time and do things differently when they happened.
By the time you girls are old enough to read this, you will surely be aware that Sarah is biologically your half-sister. When she was born, her biological donor and I were not married, and I chose to keep it that way despite persistent pleas from people in my Life who thought we needed to be married before she was born to keep from “bringing another bastard child into this world.”
I thought about it. I really did. I wanted an intact family with two parents doting on a child and sharing the beautiful, memory-making moments the Hallmark commercials portrayed as platinum-standard parenting.
My reality didn’t match those commercials, though. In my world, the divorce from husband number two had just been finalized four months earlier. I was seeing someone who was 10 years younger. I wasn’t in an emotional, mental or financial place to be prepared for a baby.
When I told him I was pregnant, he asked what I was going to do.
“I’m going to have a baby,” I replied.
He stared back at me as if those words didn’t compute. Considering the relative newness and uncertainty of our relationship, he assumed I would terminate the pregnancy, but when I assured him that was not an option for me, he reluctantly got on board with the idea of becoming a father.
He alternately seemed blissfully happy and scared witless. We discussed many times whether we should get married, and he was all for it. I was the one who held back and didn’t think it was the best idea. We had fun together, and I genuinely cared about him, but I didn’t see us as a couple who would be rocking on the front porch together watching our grandkids playing in the yard someday.
When I went into labor at just before 11 p.m. on December 27, 2006, he seemed excited. He called his aunt and told her we were on our way to the hospital.
“Are you going to call your mom,” I asked.
“No, I don’t want her there. I’ll call her after the baby gets here.”
We were not off to a great start with this delivery, but at that moment, I didn’t have it in me to worry about his on-again, off-again maternal issues.
The next morning at 10:10 a.m., Sarah Noelle made her grand debut amidst tears of joy and celebration from my family and friends. His cousin was there and had been with us all night, and she seemed genuinely excited to be part of this monumental moment. He was unsure of what to do with this tiny person who had suddenly changed our lives forever, but he stepped up to cut her umbilical cord and be part of the excitement.
About an hour after she was born, he called his mom, and, of course, she immediately dropped everything to come to the hospital. When she arrived, she was surprised to see my family and friends and her niece there. She had come such a short distance to get there, and all these people had somehow beat her to the hospital when they lived 30 minutes to an hour away.
The realization that she had been left out settled in with a heavy fog of disappointment and embarrassment. She knew everyone there had been part of the delivery and had been able to share that important moment with us, while she had been intentionally ignored until after Sarah was already here.
My heart broke for her.
Despite the fact that she and I weren’t all that close at the time, I was embarrassed to sit there in the hospital bed holding her grandchild and face her. I had knowingly let him leave her out and not argued the point that she had a right to be there. There was nothing I could do or say that would take us back in time and give her that chance. He didn’t seem to care that she was upset, but it broke my heart to watch the realization wash over her that she was the last one to arrive. Worse than that, she knew that her absence was by his design and probably assumed I had something to do with it.
I did not. Six years later, I still wonder what it must’ve felt like to come so excitedly into the room thinking she would be one of the first to arrive only to find out everyone else had been there for quite a while. Several of the people who were there knew why she wasn’t, and you could see their discomfort. The tension constricted the joy in the room to the point that a few people left to avoid the unpleasantness.
I was embarrassed at my own lack of concern for this woman in the hours leading up to Sarah’s birth. He had slept all night long on the floor, which had left me with so many chances to pick up the phone and call her when he wasn’t looking, and I hadn’t made the effort. She and my parents weren’t exactly members of a Mutual Admiration Society, and I had selfishly chosen to allow him to exclude her to make things easier on myself.
Nothing I did or said could take back that lost opportunity to do the right thing, and I was embarrassed to admit I had taken the easy way out. Unfortunately, though, that was a gloriously crowning moment of awesomeness compared to the story that will most likely go down in my history as my most embarrassing moment.
The day Sarah was born, her biological donor stayed for a while and then left for the afternoon. He came back that evening, visited for a while and left around 9 p.m. We didn’t see him again until the next evening when he brought me something to eat, stayed for about 30 minutes and left again. While he was there, I told him the nurse had said we would be discharged the next morning around 10 after the pediatrician cleared Sarah to go home, so we needed him to be back at the hospital by 9:30 or so to help pack up and get ready.
The next morning brought a blisteringly cold, rainy day. The pediatrician was facing numerous emergency calls and was delayed arriving at the hospital. Since we couldn’t leave until Sarah was cleared, we had no choice but to wait patiently.
At least I waited patiently. He cussed. He threw his keys onto the table and cussed some more. He slumped into a guest chair and sat sullenly with his hands over his face. He slept. He cussed some more – at me, at no one, at the nurse. Throughout the day while we waited, he only took one chance to be near Sarah, and that was when I asked him to sit on the bed and be near her so I could take a picture. After I saw the snarly look on his face that I had captured, I instantly wished the picture had never been taken. It showed a man who would rather have been anywhere else and who was suffering from having to be there.
Why, you may ask? He was hung over. He had spent the night before drinking, smoking, and – as I later found out – maybe or maybe not sleeping with his friend’s sister after smoking marijuana laced with cocaine. It depended on who you asked. He said it didn’t happen. His friend said it did. He said maybe it did, but he didn’t know because he was blacked out. He once again said it never happened.
Blah. Blah. Blah. * SIGH *
It didn’t even matter. I was so over the whole thing, and our child was barely two days old. His attitude and lack of concern for her and for me during our hospital stay had clearly shown me that he was not prepared to be a father. Unfortunately, he didn’t just show his ill-preparedness to me. He made his contempt for the nursing staff and pretty much everyone he encountered quite clear.
The nurse offered her apologies for the delay in our discharge and asked if we needed anything.
“What we need is to get out of this f*cking hospital!,” he barked at her. “This is so G*ddam*ed ridiculous.” He told her he was tempted to take “my baby and my girl and get the hell out of here” without being cleared. Every time she came in, he said something rude to her, and I tried to compensate by being even nicer and more understanding.
Of course, that didn’t work.
The nurse came back to check on me at one point when he had braved his way into the drizzling sleet to smoke. She had seen him leave and wanted to talk to me alone. She asked if I had a safe place to go upon discharge and said she was concerned for not only my safety but Sarah’s as well. She asked if I knew someone I could call to come get us so we didn’t have to leave with him and said that if I couldn’t assure her 100% that we would be safe, she would not allow us to leave.
How horrifyingly embarrassing.
I was a new mother whose only responsibility at that moment was to protect my child, and this nurse was so concerned about our safety she was threatening to keep us there until something could be done to protect us. I considered calling my parents to come get us, but the baby seat was in my car, which he was in control of at that moment. Plus, I couldn’t deal with the shame of admitting to my Mom and Dad that things had gotten that bad. I felt like I had to put on a brave face and forge ahead with the plans we had already made for the two of us to leave together with our daughter and share this family bonding time.
I can barely choke out the word “family” where he is concerned, even after all this time has passed. Six and a half years later, that whole day stings like it just happened and is still one of the most embarrassing, heartbreaking moments in my Life. I knowingly allowed myself to be held captive by this person and to allow him to ruin what should’ve been a blessedly happy time.
I lived in fear of what he would say or do and could see him leaving with my car and never coming back. It never occurred to me that he might hurt us physically. He knew if he ever tried, I would drop him where he stood, and if I couldn’t, my Dad and my brother – and any number of other family and friends – would be on him faster than he could turn around.
It was just embarrassing. Heartbreakingly, eye-openingly, special moment-ruiningly embarrassing.
If I could go back in time and change how those moments played out, I would. It is one of the few things in my Life that will never be allowed to fall into the “it’s just part of who I am today” category. I am embarrassed to share it with you, even now after all this time, but it is something you needed to know.
Not all embarrassing moments are funny or lighthearted once you get away from what happened and gain some perspective. Sometimes the most embarrassing moments aren’t things that accidentally happened – they are things we allow, things we could’ve foreseen and things we can’t change no matter how much we wish we could.
These are my most embarrassing moments. Hopefully, nothing similar will ever happen in your lives, girls. For you, I wish only poorly chosen shoes and moments about which you later laugh and maybe blush a little. If nothing else, maybe my sharing these stories will help you learn from my embarrassments.