“Where’s my daddy?”
The three words I dread the most. The one question I will never have an answer for. It always seems to come on our roughest days, because he knows he needs more than I can provide, because he knows my weaknesses, because there are traits he didn’t inherit from me that I am clueless about, because sometimes you just need your dad, because there are some things that are inherently male that I will never understand.
Three little words encompass my greatest fears. Getting pregnant at 17 was scary but I knew I could love, provide and care for my child. Motherhood didn’t scare me, finding the words to explain to my child why he didn’t get a daddy, now that was terrifying. How do you explain to a child that his dad was nothing more than a child himself, that his dad wasn’t lucky enough to have the supportive family I did, that his dad was scared of the things he thought he could never provide? How do you explain that its okay to be mad and sad and confused about the whole thing? Without downplaying what happened to him and how he feels about it, without letting him think a father abandoning his child is okay, without making him feel like its his fault?
At first it was simple, he lives far away, he works alot, he loves and misses you. Now he is in school, and he will see other kids with parents who live out of town and work alot and who still see their dads. He sees people with not only dads but step dads too. Now he has learning to ask for him in another language.
“Ou est mon papa?”
How do I put aside my anger and frustration, my hurt and abandonment, and calmly rationally explain to my son why he has noone around to call dad. Because once upon a time I thought I was in love and we would in this together and now I’m here making excuses for your cowardness while you make jokes about how scary the words “I’m late” are as if you have any idea about half the responsibilities I have.
My initial reaction probably looks like I have just been slapped, and I quickly try to regain my composure, “He lives far away remember baby?”. For the moment he is appeased, for the moment that is enough, for the rest of our night nothing is different and yet he needs extra snuggles tonight, extra reassurance.
“You’re my best friend, je t’aime maman”
And for now that’s enough.