Page 10 of Changing Grades

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Callie’s father spewed some vile things at me when I told him about being pregnant. It was a horrible experience and it made me feel lower than I already did because I knew my dreams would probably have to wait when I had been working toward them for so long.

He accused me of trapping him. He accused me of cheating on him. He accused me of lying to him.

He didn’t want me to have Callie.

I saw a side of the man I had been with for a while, a side I didn’t know existed. It scared me. Being so far away from my family, being scared, and having no idea how I was going to be a mom are the things that pushed me to drop out and come back home.

I’m glad I did, and I’ve never regretted it. Then I closed myself off and focused on giving Callie the life I was so afraid I wouldn’t be able to give her.

“She didn’t have to feel that sting of rejection. I never want her to,” I whisper the last words softly, one of my deepest fears bubbling to the surface.

“Do you want your daughter to think she’s the reason you won’t allow yourself to find happiness?”

I gasp, “What? I am happy with her and being her mom. I love her.”

Mom reaches over and pats my knee, reminding me with a simple gesture that she’s my mom and has a little more experience than I do. “Callie is a smart girl. She knows that you don’t date or go out, that you’ve put your life on hold for hers.”

“I’m her mom. It’s what I’m supposed to do,” I defend myself.

Mom shakes her head slowly. “No, you should also look for opportunities and people who make your life richer.” She tilts her head to the side as she looks at me. “Does Griffin do that?”

“Yes,” I breathe out. “He does. I had so much fun the other night with him,” I gush. “He’s easy to talk to and he’s just,” I sigh, “perfect.”

Mom shakes her head. “No one is perfect, especially a man.” She arches an eyebrow, challenging me, “That doesn’t mean he’s not perfect for you. Though, he’s still human. He’ll probably mess up, more than once. You’ll probably mess up too. You might overthink it or not grab everything the man is offering you. Both would be big mistakes.”

I scrunch my nose up and give my mom a look which tells her I don’t appreciate all the logic she’s bestowing upon me…and that I love her deeply for it.

“She’s right, ya know, Mom,” Callie’s voice has me almost jumping out of my skin as my heart starts to pound in my chest.

When I look up, she’s leaning in the doorframe that leads into the living room we’re sitting in. How long has she been standing there? How much did she hear?

I keep my voice neutral, “What are you talking about?”

Callie rolls her eyes before she walks over to an oversized chair and plops down with a huff. “I’m talking about how you’re overthinking this and worrying yourself when I don’t think you need to.”

Mom is smug as hell, a knowing look in her eye, as she prompts my daughter, “Why not?”

“Because he’s made her happy.” She shrugs as if she didn’t just drop a bomb into the middle of the room in sentence form. “She’s been almost giddy since she went out the other night. I knew she had a date and she’s never gone on one before that I can remember. She’s been smiling a lot more and I don’t even think she realizes it.” She looks at me and smiles. “I have a good feeling about him, Mom, you need to give him a real chance.”

“You’ve never met him; how can you have a good feeling about him?”

Callie gets a thoughtful look on her face and starts to rub the center of her chest absently. “I can’t explain it, it’s just a feeling.” She shrugs like she’s not rocking my entire world right now. “Maybe it’s because you’ve been so happy?”

“He’s very nice,” I hedge, unsure how to navigate these waters even though Callie seems to be taking it all in stride.

Maybe I’m not giving her enough credit. No, in fact, I’m definitely not. She’s always been a perceptive person. It was one of the many things which made raising her relatively easy. She, somehow, knew when she could push me and test her boundaries while also knowing when I was teetering right on the edge and barely keeping my balance.

That was when she would pull the big guns out and be super sweet, melting my heart and my frustrations in seconds.

I might not have been as young as a lot of moms are when I had Callie, but in a lot of ways we grew up together. I had to mourn the loss of what I thought I was going to have and who I was going to be, but I had to do it while learning how to be a mom. I never wanted to let her down.

I can only hope she doesn’t feel like I did.

Callie comes and sits next to me and snuggles into my side, something she hasn’t done in a little while. I’ve missed it, but I also know she’s growing up into a young woman and she needed to start to set her own boundaries for herself. That doesn’t mean I don’t soak up her affection and love right now.

“Is he handsome?” Her voice is sassy with an edge of innocence, and I can’t help but smile when I think of Griffin. “Oh, that look on your face tells me he is.”

I laugh, the sound of my daughter’s joy joining me.

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