I always knew the day would come, but I wasn’t expecting it to happen this soon. Last week my oldest son was busy talking to his little brother in the back seat. I wasn’t paying attention at first but my ears started to perk up and alarm bells started going off as I heard him say, “Don’t cry, baby Alex, we’re going home…you’re going to see your Daddy, it’ll be ok. You have a daddy, but I don’t have a daddy.” My heart sank as his words registered in my mind and the reality of what he said left me void of speech-I couldn’t even form any kind of response. Like I said, I knew the day was coming when he would recognize that his “daddy” wasn’t around like other kids’ were, but I had hoped he’d be 8 or 10….not almost 4.
The truth is, he does have a father. The reality however is that his father only makes an appearance of some sort once or twice a year if at all. In the 3 1/2 years Brennan’s been alive, he’s only seen his father twice-both times he was too young to remember. His father doesn’t call and despite my numerous requests for some, I have no pictures of his father to show him. I’ve tried on numerous occasions to talk to him about his father and let him know that he does have one, but how do you make something like that tangible to a 3 year old without any supporting evidence?
Even though his father is absent, Brennan does have father figures in his life: my father, my brother, a couple of guys from church he sees every week and who always have hugs and some rough housing to give him….He even, for almost the past year had my ex….I’d have to say out of all the “figures” in his life, he was closest to my ex who I just broke up with about a month ago….
Which is why the painful reality of what Brennan said that day struck deep….even though my ex still sees Brennan and talks to him when he sees him, since our break up (and if I’m honest with myself I’d have to say it started when our son Alex was born) there’s been a distance between them. I know my ex still cares for Brennan and always will….but Brennan is not his son, and naturally his focus has turned to the one who is….and while I can’t and don’t blame him for that, it does make me angry. And while it would be easy for me to make him the whipping boy for my anger, I have to say I’m actually angry with myself. Even more than angry, I’m disappointed. Not just in myself for putting myself in this situation, but for putting my son in it. My son deserves to have a father, someone who is going to love and care for him as if he were their own, someone who is going to consider him a son, and I have yet to be able to provide that for him. While my ex cares for him, I can’t make him be something he’s not, nor has the real desire to-I learned from dealing with Brennan’s dad that you can’t make a man be a father to someone, especially if they aren’t willing or just don’t have it in them to be.
So as I’ve been reflecting on what Brennan said and how to deal with it, I’ve slowly been coming to realize that I have to do this thing on my own and with God’s wisdom & grace.Now I knew since before he was born I would be a single mother, but I always held out hope that either his father would see the light and accept his role or that someone would come along and step into that role. I know that probably sounds pretty stupid, but I have to be honest and say that it’s the truth. Up until now, being a mother to my son was all he needed, but I’ve realized over the past week that being mommie isn’t enough anymore. I’m realizing that he’s crossed over to the age where he needs a mother AND a father, and if daddy ain’t there, then more so than others, I have to become as close to daddy as possible for him.
When I woke up this morning I found myself angry and frustrated….it took me some prayer and concentration to figure out the root of it….Turns out I was angry because it’s Saturday-the day my ex comes to pick up our son and take him for the day. Saturdays used to be days I lived for-they were the days we had outings together as a family. Now they only serve as painful reminders that things have changed….not just for myself, but for Brennan. I found myself telling God I was angry and thought it unfair to Brennan that Alex gets to see and spend time with his father but Brennan does not…I found myself telling God how frustrated and angry with myself I was for creating this situation for him, and not having the slightest clue how to remedy it, if a remedy even exists. (I just can’t help but feeling like this is just such a huge mess, ya know?) I also asked Him , “God, I know there are thousands of other women and men who do it, but how on earth can I be BOTH? I don’t know the first thing about being a father to a son.” As I continued to quietly pour out my heart to God I heard Him say, “Take Brennan to the park.” Well, it wasn’t in my plans for the day, but I’ve come to learn that my plans tend to suck and that God’s plans are so much better and work out better than mine ever would have. Besides, it’s goregous out today, so I actually found myself wanting to take advantage. So I finished getting Alex ready, got Brennan and myself dressed and once Alex left, ventured off with Brennan to the park. As I watched Brennan run around the playground, I asked God, “ok, I’m here, now what?” The answer was simple-“Play.” And so I did….we played soccer, frisbee, took a walk along a quiet trail, threw rocks in the pond….and it was then that I realized that while I may not be a father, I can do things with Brennan that a father does-I did afterall grow up a serious tomboy. I can roughhouse, play videogames, dig in the dirt and do other things that a father would do with a son, even though I’m his mother. You see, people have been telling me for the past three years that despite my best efforts, I was still going to need a man, Brennan would still need a father in order to grow up well adjusted and okay. That’s part of the reason why up until today I thought I couldn’t be both and needed another person there. And while I’m sure having someone else share the responsibility of parenthood is much better than just having one bear it all, after my experience today I’m much more confident that I have what it takes to go it alone. I’m also confident that what I’m lacking God will be there to fill in what’s missing. He promised to perfect the things that concern me (Psalms 138:8) and I refuse to believe that He’ll leave me out to dry on this one issue.
I know that as he grows into a young man, Brennan will need more than some roughousing and football to become a man. I know it won’t be easy and I won’t always have all the answers,but what I do know is that God will continue to guide me and show me how to walk this thing out, just like He did today, as well as provide me whatever I need to fill in the gap. It’s going to require mustard seed faith on my part as well as a teachable spirit, but I know He will help me be the best mother AND father to my son that I can be-regardless if someone else is there or not.
They say God works in mysterious ways….I guess all those days of being the only girl football player, roughousing with the boys, playing softball, watching football, and hanging with the guys as I grew up was just His way of making sure I was equipped to handle the little boy He would give me in the future.