Every parent has to have conversations with their children that are inevitable. I am sure a few popped into your mind when you read that. I bet they included the ones about whether Santa, The Tooth Fairy, and/or The Easter Bunny are real. I’m almost 100% positive that “where do babies come from” also flew into your brain. But what about those conversations that not everyone has to have? Those that only single parents (or those of adopted children) have to have with their children. Those conversations about where they came from- not the mechanics of where, but the “who” of where. Those conversations where you sit on your bed with an 8-year-old boy who is crying because he “[wants] a dad.” What about those conversations? For a bit, it is enough for him to be told by others, “Your mom is just so awesome that you don’t need a dad.” For a while, that honestly works and he will be happy about the fact that his mom is so awesome she can be a dad, too. He will actually respond with this when asked where his dad is. “I don’t have a dad because my mama is so great I don’t need one.” For a while, that answer is enough.
But then it won’t be.
At some point, a few years after the initial realization that most children have 2 parents, this answer won’t be enough. He won’t believe, anymore, that his mom is Super Woman and that she’s so awesome that no dad is needed- because one IS needed. We live in The South, so at some point he is going to be called “son” by someone who is male and isn’t his dad. This used to not be paid attention when he was younger, but now it rings as loud as bells in Notre Dame Cathedral. He notices that other dads come and coach this or that sport. He notices that other dads are present during Life Group get-togethers on Sundays. Even when we think he isn’t listening, he hears people, out of love, tell his mom, “He REALLY needs some male influence. You know, guy time.” There’s nothing that can be said in response except “Yeah. I know.” Sometimes, “I know, but I can’t do anything about that.”
What do you tell an 8-year-old boy who is upset because someone was joking with him and meant absolutely zero harm said, “I’m your daddy now”? What do you say to an 8-year-old boy who has never been able to call anyone by that name? You can tell him it’s ok that he doesn’t have one because there are so many wonderful men who care about him and love him so much. You can say that, but it’s not going to make it any easier- it isn’t the same. It shouldn’t be. It wasn’t designed that way. We weren’t created to have children and raise them singularly. We were created to live as families. Man + woman + children = family. Dad + mom + children = family. He knows he has a mom so where is his dad? “Why don’t I have a dad?” “I don’t know, baby. I can’t answer that question for you right now.” How do you tell an 8
-year-old that, for some reason, the man who would be his dad truly doesn’t care for or love him? You don’t. You never say that. You stall until you think he’s mature enough to understand an explanation for a situation that shouldn’t have happened in the first place. But how do you know that he will be able to handle being told something that could alter his feelings of self-worth for the rest of his life? I don’t know. I am hoping I can avoid being honest about that forever, but I know I won’t be able to. At some point, I will have to tell him that his “dad” chose a life without him not once, but thrice.
Until that day comes, though, I will continue to be Super Woman. I will continue to force myself to sometimes live uncomfortably and to go without things in order to make sure that I can be there for his school performances, parties, or sports practices and games. I will continue to only work jobs that will either allow
me to work only when he is in school or that will allow me to have him with me. I will continue to do this because he is already missing out on so much, and I refuse to give up time with him just to make myself more comfortable- to be able to travel, shop, go out to eat, go to movies, etc. I will continue to wear the same unfashionable clothes for oh-so-many months or years in order to save to be able to do little extra things for him. I will take 6 years to finish a 4 year degree. I will continue to take him to church multiple times a week and to Life Group- even if I will end up stretched for gas, water, or phone money as a result. I will do all of this to make sure that he knows that I see his worth even though someone else didn’t. I will do all of this to make sure that he knows Who he ultimately belongs to, to make sure he is surrounded by people who will help instill this truth in his heart, and to make sure that he knows that though his earthly father failed him, his Heavenly Father never will.