Second Chances


Mike Dwyer

Mike Dwyer is a former writer and contributor at Ordinary Times.

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33 Responses

  1. Avatar Trumwill says:

    I’ll go for a more full response later, but since it will involve a little bit more about myself and I don’t want the first comment to be ME ME ME ME, I just wanted to say how great I thought this post was. It resonated.Report

  2. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    I’ve been sitting here with my thumbs still, waiting for the right words to come, but they aren’t going to.

    Boy, this was powerful and moving and awesome in just about every way. Thank you so much for sharing this.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Congratulations. You done good.

    (The post is good too.)Report

  4. Avatar North says:

    Great post and I think it’s a wonderful story and I’m delighted that it turned out well for you both. There’s a great nobility in the choices you and the Mother of your daughter were able to make; I’m glad we live in a society where you both had the opportunity to make them.Report

  5. Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

    In my own history, there is no baby who was never born but could have been born. I think about it now and then. Could have been. My younger self was cautious, but not meticulous. Nor is any technique foolproof.

    I’ve passed the halfway mark of my life. I cannot imagine what was so important in the first half of my life that would justify making someone like your daughter never being born.

    There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.
    Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.
    Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
    It’s easy.
    There’s nothing you can make that can’t be made.
    No one you can save that can’t be saved.
    Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you
    in time

    It’s easy

    ALL You Need Is Love, etc., etc, blahblahblahReport

  6. Avatar Will Truman says:

    Okay, now for the self-absorbed response. Reading this was very interesting for me. It was a sort of mirror image of my own experience: She wanted to keep it, you would have preferred she abort it, she existed and was born. I wanted to keep it, she was leaning towards abortion, it did not exist and was not born.

    One of the harder things to reconcile is how much of an obligation I felt and how our relationship would have terminated two years earlier – when things had been going extremely well – than it did if she had gone through with the abortion*. I wasn’t prepared to be a father, and didn’t want to be, but I was also not prepared to be a part of a decision not to be if it was an it.

    Had it happened, I never would have been able to be with Clancy regardless of how my shotgun marriage would have turned out. The child we’ll be greeting in a few months wouldn’t exist. I, as I know myself, wouldn’t exist.

    I think of the it that wasn’t whenever I was subbing in the age that the child would be (going into the 9th grade). It’s a weird feeling. I mean, it’s all in my head, but there is a parallel life there somewhere that the result came out differently, she kept the child, and he or she is the age of the class I am giving rapid-fire vocabulary lessons to.

    * – It wasn’t an ultimatum thing. I didn’t even think of it in those terms at the time. It was just a reality that hadn’t sunk in yet.Report

  7. Avatar Michelle says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, Mike. I’m glad you got your second chance and fought to be a part of your daughter’s life.Report

  8. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    You’ve shared an intimate part of your story, half your life’s experience, in a few hundred words here. That’s a remarkable piece of writing. Your pride in your daughter’s advance through life is palpable and heart-warming, so thank you for that.

    A point of semantics: when you say your stance of pro-life is “militant,” that carries a particular and uncomfortable implication for me. An adjective like “insistent,” “unpersuadable,” or “absolute” would have sat better and conveyed a similar degree of certitude. This is a quibble; I understand your meaning.

    We’re molded by our experiences and defined by our choices. I think your choices define you very well here, Mike, and I can be confident that you’ll be a good guide for your daughter as she goes through her own age of foolishness and education, facing her own challenges and experiences and choices. Good luck to her.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Burt – I would say ‘militant’ is accurate in the sense that I am actively pursuing that agenda. It isn’t just an opinion I hold. In my personal life and away from the League I am actively engaged in the pro-life movement. I guess I could see the discomfort with the word ‘militant’ because it could imply violence, but I feel that ‘absolute’ is too passive.Report

      • Avatar Thatpirateguy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        When our are actively engaged in a movement that shoots people an firebombs clinics militant is accurate at least.

        Even if you never set a fire or shoot anyone.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Thatpirateguy says:


          That’s painting with a really large brush. There are indeed violent extremists in the pro-life movement. I don’t believe that makes me guilty by association and I think most rationale people would agree. ‘Militant’ does not only mean violent and I’m pretty sure you know that.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Thatpirateguy says:

          … does this include people who are quite firmly pro-life AND pro-choice? People who advocate for others to “Choose Life” with the emphasis that it’s a CHOICE?

          Those people are your allies. Best not to piss them off.Report

  9. Avatar DRS says:

    Congratulations on facing up to your responsibilities – and kudos to a young woman who was obviously strong enough to face the situation head on.

    I realize this is your retrospective but I feel there’s a gap. What was your daughter’s mother (I can’t call her your “ex”, really) doing during the ten years you were finishing your degrees and making your child support payments? Did she go to college or did she get a job? Did she have family support (mother, aunts) to help care for the baby on a fixed schedule? How much of the child’s expenses were covered by your child support payments? How did single parenthood impact her life, her choices, her options?Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to DRS says:

      Her story is a lot different than mine. A lot more ups and downs instead of a slow, steady climb. I don’t really feel comfortable sharing more than that to protect her privacy, however I will say that she has been the best mother she can be and I have no doubt she loves our daughter as much as I do.

      As for our parenting together, when I had less visitation she did more of the heavy lifting. There was a painful phase where I wanted more time and more responsibility but she liked the control it gave her with me having less. That was her choice, not mine. It took me a long time to change her mind on that and it was a battle. By the time joint custody was declared it was really just a formality but it was important for me to have that document stating that I was equal in the eyes of the law. I think a lot of people don’t understand just how cruel full-custody arrangments can be for the non-custodial parent.Report

  10. Amazing. Seriously, truly, and completely amazing.Report

  11. Avatar Kyle Cupp says:

    Powerfully written, Mike. The best to you and your daughter!Report

  12. Avatar DRS says:

    “Amazing. Seriously, truly, and completely amazing.” – Mark Thompson

    Oh, come on. He didn’t exactly invent the equivalent of penicillin, did he? The breathless quality of some of these responses is making me smile.

    To recap: at a young age, Mike made a deposit in the sperm bank and won the fatherhood lottery. After going into shock for a brief while and acting out five years of guyness in one year (and barely living to tell about it), he manned up and faced the future without flinching. It’s actually quite common, and called growing up. Lots of people run into life-changing situations and become stronger by dealing with them effectively.

    So kudos to Mike for joining the club that had adulthood thrust upon ’em before they were entirely ready for it but on the whole handling it well and relating it in a realistic manner. Best wishes to his daughter. The awesome totality of their awesomeness is truly awesome. But I have to wonder what kind of challenges some of the rest of you have faced that you’re so breathless over what’s really a common occurence.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to DRS says:

      DRS – I’m going to guess people are complimenting my writing, not believing that my actions were amazing. You’re right. It is a common story. I wasn’t patting myself on the back. I was just talking about being thankful I have my daughter.Report

      • Avatar DRS in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        I know that, Mike. You weren’t the subject of that post.

        You’re lucky you didn’t impregnate my cousin. Her father and two older brothers drove over to the boy’s home and informed his parents directly. He walked in the door to find an armed posse waiting for him and his future already decided. He was allowed to graduate high school (my cousin was a year older and already out) with all his body parts intact and then he would marry her and get a job to support his new family. Or he could leave home, move out of town and don’t bother with a forwarding address, you’re not our son anymore. College? Sorry chum you blew that ship out of the water.

        They got married, had four kids before they were thirty (and two more afterwards). I suppose it was an okay marriage, they got along okay although they tended to ignore each other at family get-togethers and at least once I heard him call her “the b*tch” in coversation. The kids were okay too, although there was some hard partying done in high school and the boys went through adolescence in that state referred to as “known to the police”.

        And they weren’t unique either. There seemed to be at least one couple in every graduating class who were wearing wedding rings already when they got their diplomas. It was a community where the prevailing view was: you had your fun, time to pay for it. Old school, you might say.Report

  13. Avatar DRS says:

    And I don’t mean to pick on Mark – he just was so succinct it was a logical comment to pick.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to DRS says:

      I think you’re misunderstanding what you’re seeing. His fellow writers are acknowledging that Mike hit this post out of the park. Which on a site with as much quality writing as this one gets means something.

      We’re not applauding the life decisions, we’re applauding the mastery of craft. Which was *awesome*.Report

  14. Avatar Mary G says:

    Great story, Mike. You are a mensch.

    Something like this happened to my parents in 1955, although they were older and had both graduated from college. They kept me and ended up getting married when I was three, for which I have, of course, always been very grateful.

    My mom had a different reaction to yours. She started out as one of those “Barry Goldwater is the only hope for our country” Republicans, but ended up despising the pro-life movement and started voting for libertarians. She felt that a woman’s choice had to be the final judgment.Report

  15. I hope your daughter knows what an awesome Dad you’ve become. Ya did good, Mike. 🙂Report

  16. Wonderful post. It is a fitting bookend for that one story in the NYT several years ago, that scumbag feminist who aborted two of her healthy triplets, so that she wouldn’t have to move to the suburbs and give up her urban hipster lifestyle.Report

  17. And, since you say that the post isn’t about abortion, I’ll just add that it’s always great to read about adolescents maturing into men.Report