Mom, Thank You for Solving the Mystery of My Paternity on National Television


Mom, I know I don’t say it often enough, but thank you for turning to Maury to clear up the mystery of my paternity. If you hadn’t, we wouldn’t know that I was really Dad’s, and we also wouldn’t have that precious video recording preserving our family’s history. It’s a memory we can watch over and over again, one I can share with my own children someday.

My favorite part is when Waylon calls you a whore and then you stand up and blast him with, “YOU ain’t the father, Waylon! YOU AIN’T! It’s TATER!”

Then Dad comes out, and underneath it says “Tater: Claims he is the father.” The first time was the best, but even now I like to watch and think, “That’s my mom” and “That’s my dad.” It was like you guys were stars in your own romantic movie.

And there I was backstage, completely unaware that my DNA was the topic of discussion. I feel a little thrill every time I see the close up of my adorable 2-year-old self on camera next to that image of Dad’s face, knowing that viewers are comparing our bone structure as they fight to squelch a profound sense of unease about the future of humanity.

As for you, you probably knew that you were being judged for your promiscuity and your regrettable eyeshadow choices, but you sat tall and proud and continued to butcher the English language with conviction.

Over the years, I’ve heard the neighbors say all kinds of mean things.

“It’s not only crass but also morally objectionable to make sensationalistic TV drama out of an innocent child’s parentage,” they say. Don’t listen to those people, Mom. They’re just haters and jealous they didn’t get to be on TV.

I’ll admit, I’m still pretty sad that you and Dad separated again the week after the show aired. But we’ll always have those few moments when he was pumping his fist in triumph and you were crying tears of joy and the audience was cheering.

We’ll have that forever.

Thanks, Mom.


About the Author

Abby Byrd is a teacher, a grammarian, and the poster mom for existential angst. Her work has appeared on Scary Mommy/Club Mid, In The Powder Room, BLUNTMoms, Mamalode, The Good Men Project, The Reject Pile, and The Big Jewel, as well as in two anthologies. She is a frequent contributor to MockMom. Follow her on Twitter, on Facebook, and at her blog, Little Miss Perfect.