These thoughts have been weighing on my heart and lately, I can’t escape them. As close as my daughter and I are now, as much as we’ve been through together and as much as I know she’s genuinely happy, there’s this constant feeling of guilt and shame that still haunts me.
The guilt comes from so many different places. Guilty that I had her as a teenager and didn’t know what the heck I was doing. She endured years of moving from one place to the next, us living with my cousin, back and forth from my mom’s, me working low-paying part-time jobs and barely affording any kind of life past the necessities. I hate even thinking about those times. It makes my heart ache.
I feel guilty that I left her for four years and accepted a university scholarship hundreds of miles away from home. She was only 1. I’d see her for a couple weeks over the summer and listen to her mumble into the phone every week from my dorm room, but I didn’t even feel like a parent. That guilt still rattles me because I could’ve been home helping her live a better life. Even at the toddler stage, she was asked to be resilient.
Guilty now that she’s 16 and I’ve only in the past few years become somewhat financially stable. Guilty because I’m still pursuing my dreams instead of already living them out. I should be farther ahead by now. I shouldn’t be in this small apartment even though it’s in a wonderful neighborhood. We should be in a townhome where there’s actually some separation between the kitchen and the living room.
This story was submitted by a Fatherly reader. Opinions expressed in the story do not reflect the opinions of Fatherly as a publication. The fact that we’re printing the story does, however, reflect a belief that it is an interesting and worthwhile read.
And that’s where the shame comes in. Because it doesn’t matter what I do, I can’t go back in time. She happened. When I was still in high school, still naive, immature, and overconfident, thinking that raising a child in a maybe 350-foot basement seemed logical.
I’m ashamed that I had to borrow…
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