Fatherless on Father’s day (dialogue)

Sam: What are you doing?

Me: writing a poem about what it might be like to not have a dad.

Sam: Oh.

Me: Does it suck today?

Sam: A little bit.

Me: I can’t imagine.

Sam: It’s kind of OK though too. Because we have you. And I like having you all to myself with my brother.

Me: It’s OK for it to suck. What can be hard about it?

Sam: Because a daddy can’t play with me.

Me: Do kids ever give you a hard time about not having a daddy?

Sam: They ask me sometimes why I don’t have one.

Me: What do you tell them?

Sam: I don’t know.

Me: You don’t know why you don’t have a daddy?

Sam: Yes.

Me: It’s kind of like you don’t have a daddy twice isn’t it? Once because I’m not married, and once because your birth father wasn’t ready or able to be a parent when you were born.

Sam: That’s what I should tell them?

Me: You don’t have to tell them anything. Or you can say; My family has an Uncle, a Mommy, and lots and lots of other people who love me too.

Sam: OK. Can I go play my guitar now?

Me: Yes.

While I was writing a poem (that’s not ready for the world) trying to imagine an older Sam and what this might look like to him, the conversation above happened.

We have amazing men in our life. I write about them all the time: older ones, younger ones, Black ones, and creamy ones. Constant ones, sporadic ones. Sporty ones, and bookish ones. There are the theatrical ones, and the serious ones. The stop your foolishness ones, and the foolish ones. And there will always be the missing one. Marcel’s story is different, and deserving of his own poem. Which I actually wrote a year ago. I’ll re post it another day. His connection with his “donor” is more accessible, closer.

To all our many papas we cherish you. To the one we don’t really know, we hold you close always too. We honor all the magnificent talent,charisma and love you brought into our lives today.

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  1. love that last line so very much “we honour the …you brought into our lives today”. Perfect. Birth father is the absence that echoes the loudest in our house. Thank you!

  2. Father’s Day is actually later on in the year in Australia, but my reader is full of Father’s Day tributes today. I was struck by your conversation with Sam when you said “I can’t imagine”. My future children will be raised in my home fatherless (although they may well have birth fathers) and I am also fatherless. I CAN imagine what it is like to experience Father’s Day without a father, but I am very conscious that it won’t make it any easier to navigate. I am completely ambivalent about being raised without a father and have not had any difficult Father’s Days, or any other days as a result of being fatherless. Consequently, I will have to try extra hard to ensure that my kids have the opportunity to talk about their feelings, because I can’t assume they’ll feel the same way I do.

  3. Jess, why wouldn’t your experience make it easier to navigate somehow? By easier I mean only the”ease” that comes with having an experience to share. The opportunity to say-“for me it felt like this…What is it like for you?” I absolutely hang my hat (if that is an expression meaning–rely on the wisdom of) on the experience of friends who are adult adoptees. They offer insights into what it MIGHT be like for Sam to experience X or Y. They can IMAGINE something I have no lived experience of. Or are you saying that you are super aware that your experience will be so different then theirs? Thanks as always for joining in here.

  4. What I was trying to say, obviously in a very clumsy way, is that because I will have the shared experience, I have to be super aware not to superimpose my experience onto my kids and assume I know what they are thinking. To make sure I have the same types of conversation that you have with Sam, and that you illustrated in your comment above. It would be perhaps easy to fall into the trap of thinking “Well, I know what that feels like – there’s nothing to discuss here”, when in fact their subjective experience will most likely be vastly different than mine and it’s still just as important to talk about this issue with them, as well as the issues that I haven’t had exposure to and want to help them feel that they’re able to discuss.

    Clear as mud? 🙂

  5. Such a lovely post. Such a wonderful answer (yours and Sam’s!) I think it’s interesting that while it’s an important thing, a father, it’s still not as important as a loving family, which you are.

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