Being a single mom when I graduated restricted the jobs that I could take. It was almost impossible for me to take a regular veterinary job because you were required to be on call. How could I possibly leave in the middle of the night when I had a baby in the house and no one to take care of her? I looked into sales jobs, research jobs and veterinary practices that had an emergency clinic in town, meaning that there was no on-call required.
As it turned out, I ended up getting a great job as the staff veterinarian for a feed company that also raised its own calves, thousands of them. I bought a house and moved with my daughter to a city not that far from the university town. Bob had gotten a job at a local daily newspaper over an hour away and had moved there with his girlfriend.
I hit a low point here. I was a twenty-six year old single mom that was already on my way to a divorce. I was living in a city where I knew no one except for the people that I worked with. I only saw those people at work. I was terribly alone and I was not sure what to do with myself.
I remember doing groceries with a blinding headache, my daughter in the shopping cart not in such a great mood herself, and just feeling like I had hit bottom. Bob would often say that he was coming to get his daughter and then he would simply not show up. Or, when he did take her she would come back on Sunday and have milk diarrhea for a day or so and a diaper rash.
For those people that have not raised a baby, when all you feed your child is milk, they get soft, greyish white poos that are not normally formed. This was neglect. As far as I could tell, he would just give her a bottle of milk every time that she was hungry or upset and that would be all that he would feed her. She was over a year of age by now and basically could eat anything that he was eating, assuming that he was eating. His girlfriend would have been about 18 by then so she was not all that equipped to deal with having a toddler around either and the diaper rash that my daughter had when she came home was a testament to that fact.
Then a strange thing happened. A good friend of mine, who also had a daughter, separated from her husband and came to stay with me. Things were great. We had the same level of responsibility but we also had the same understanding of what needed to be done. When you are living with someone that already knows how to manage a home, it actually splits the work in half.
We had meals together, played with our daughters together, had ample time to talk and discuss our failed marriages and our lives. She was only there a short while. I’m guessing a couple of weeks, but it set me up. When she moved out there was a gaping hole in my life.
I had more or less adjusted to living on my own and now I had to readjust to being by myself. I had experienced how nice it was to have someone there. The loneliness that followed her stay was bottomless.
Then Bob stepped in. He explained that he had panicked when our daughter had been born. He was scared and acted inappropriately. He was sorry for what he had done and he had learned his lesson the hard way by being separated from his family. He wanted to be married. He wanted to be a family. He had realized that he had acted inappropriately and regretted his mistake.
Looking back now, I’m almost certain that he had fought with his girlfriend and she had thrown him out. I recognize that the lines were probably lifted, if not word for word, at least the theme of them, from a romantic comedy, but I hadn’t been watching a lot of movies. He had brought a wedding band with him and presented it to me. He wanted to get back together; the question was, did I?