This morning we Skyped with my father in New Mexico, after making #1 Uncle blueberry pancakes. Now the boys are off playing ball with him in the park. Bliss. We made a card for Shrek and are working on various messages and drawings for some of the other significant males in our lives that we like to acknowledge today.
The absence of a “father” per se, is not the curse or deficit some might attribute to the children of the single mama. In fact in our home, it is quite the contrary.
Neither Sam, nor Marcel have a dad. That is a fact. Both, have a biological father. In Marcel’s case that man is Tree his known donor. We emailed him a special message today. Marcel understands that Tree is not his dad, but is his biological father. Marcel has created a working definition of donor that meets his needs. This is not a sad thing, this is a very powerful act: to name and own your understanding of a relationship. For today, that is a relationship that exists in it’s own container that the three of us are designing. It will evolve as Marcel gets older, and his needs change with that growth. For Sam, there is a birth father, that he has seen pictures of, and whom he has reached out to with letters and pictures. He has not had any contact from him since he was about a year old. .
What my sons do have is a super capable mom and an amazingly supportive village of co-parents which includes many, many, meaningful males. These men are among other things: Black, white, and many other hues. These men are adopted, married, transgendered, strait,unemployed, conventional, Jewish, free spirited, professional, spiritual, agnostic, political, Muslim, outgoing, independent, Christin, artistic, quiet, musical, single, immigrants, wealthy, athletic, young, middle aged, and older who all have one thing in common; a meaningful connection and commitment to participating in Sam and Marcel’s expansive walk in the world. These men model what maleness is: multifaceted, magnificent, and theirs to design.
A few weeks ago I asked Sam if he ever get’s any flack, or teasing from friends who know he doesn’t have a dad. He immediately answered; “No. My friends think it’s cool that I have a mom who does so much stuff with me, and that I don’t have to worry when my parents don’t get along.” So, that is clearly a commentary on what first graders were talking about and taking in that day. On another day I imagine Sam might have answered that differently–as he is surrounded by so many loving coupled people, who have highly functional and successful relationships. But when I pushed a little more that day he continued; “Mom, I think it’s cool that you do what you do. I don’t know, I just think we are really good just like we are. My friends like me, not me because I have a dad or don’t have a dad.”
This is also possibly a reflection of Sam taking in that marriage could be in my future one day, and that will mean a large shift in the family dynamic. But, for today we cherish all the many generous and gifted men in our lives, and all the ways you enrich all of our lives. Of course, this post would not be complete without acknowledging the two males who are probably the most significant in both their lives: each other. Years ago I read a quote from a young man, raised by a single mom, who also had a brother. In it he said;
“I learned how to be in relationship, by having relationship with my brother and my mother, and watching them do the same thing. I learned how to be a loving and relational man by watching what made a relationship successful.”
I was pregnant with Marcel when I read that. To learning how to be in relationship, and honoring the men who show us over and over and over how that looks when it works, and modeling for us, how to arrive there-hearts and souls in tact.
I’d love to hear about your experience with this day–what it means to you, or doesn’t. What books you read to your kids if Father’s Day is difficult, or challenging, that have helped your family find words to normalize and embrace all the great you do have. Who the most significant males are in your family dynamic, or how you see your children impacted by any of it. To read more about Father’s Day from all sides of the adoption constellation there is an Open Adoption Round Table discussion on the topic here.