18 June 2007

Fathers: Act One

Yesterday morning in church, our minister reminded us to give thanks for our fathers, grandfathers, and those "standing in for fathers". His words caught me off guard; Father's Day is bittersweet for me.

I've been blessed by the father's in my life; my grandfather, cousins and close friends--wonderful, amazing men, all around. Big A's dad is her hero. I'm so glad for her that she has that type of security in her life and that she'll be able to open her album of memories someday and see such wonderful ones with her father in there. I've written before of how they share the same traits emotionally--they understand one another in ways that admittedly make me a little jealous; feeling like the girl standing outside the circle, wishing she were in it.

Then there's Little A. I wonder about the person "standing in" for her father...I suppose that person is me? I'm to the point now when people ask of her father, sometimes I say she doesn't have one, then ignore the look on their face as they await a further explanation. Other times, I've said he isn't with us anymore, but quit doing that when someone replied they were sorry--they thought that I meant that he was dead. Mostly, now I just say that he's not a part of her life, and leave it at that.

Right now, I'm the queen of her world, and it's good to be queen. What causes me worry (I can't help it, I'm a worrier) is what she'll do when kids are making Father's Day cards at preschool; is that when she will first ask? Will the first hint of something missing from her life be when they draw pictures of families, and she wonders aloud at the men represented? I know that at this moment in her life, she is happy and content and thriving. What I don't know is if that will be enough of a beacon to guide her through the darkness that is sure to come with not having a father.

Even when my closest friends ask me about him now, I am hesitant to speak; there is simply nothing left to say. I've accepted his leaving and the decisions that came with it; I don't ache for him at all; but I do ache for her.

I want to shelter her from the pain that his decisions will ultimately bring to her--for I believe within my heart of hearts that no matter what I give to her, it will only be natural that she will wonder of him. I don't believe that it will be a reflection of failure on my part if she feels something missing, I believe it will just be human nature.

I worry because she's enthralled by men. When she meets them, you can see her little face processing this person with a different voice and features. Already at this young age, I worry that intrinsically she feels a void, and is looking to fill it. You may tell me I'm crazy, but I know what I see.

We're fortunate in that we have the blessings of many good friends and family in our lives. I suppose that each of them, in their own form, is "standing in" to some capacity. My wish for her is that all of their love, so generously given, is enough to counter the unreceived love from a man that she will never know.

The definition of a stand-in is "someone employed to occupy an actor's place while the lights and camera are readied". I want her to know that the lights and camera have always been in place and that these stand-ins are far, far better than any actor ever could have been. They know the lines and have memorized the scenes and can bring down the house with their heartfelt performances.

And to the cast: my deepest thanks. All those roses being thrown on the stage are from me.


Christine said...

man jenn, you move me lady.

it was so touching to read how you care for little a and how you worry over her.

those stand-ins sound amazing, and as she grows she is sure to see that. she'll have you to show her.

Anonymous said...

I have a dear friend whose father was never a part of her life -- left her mother, her brother, and her when she was only a toddler. He tried to come back into her life when she was in her 20s. She quietly held on to his request for weeks, and after what must have been an agonizing battle in her head, turned him down. She never gave a reason, but all I can think is that, in the end, he realized that it truly was his loss.

Little A will grieve her father and it will break your heart into little tiny pieces to watch her do so, but you will have to be strong enough to help her walk through that pain despite your own hurting. She'll be ok, she'll be better than ok, but she'll try on a lot of different emotions before she gets there. If you are honest and matter-of-fact about his whereabouts, even at this young age, she'll eventually weave her loss of him into her own life's story.

Sometimes it's hard to be a mom, but your love will shine through to her even during the difficult times.

slouching mom said...

I worry because she's enthralled by men. When she meets them, you can see her little face processing this person with a different voice and features. Already at this young age, I worry that intrinsically she feels a void, and is looking to fill it. You may tell me I'm crazy, but I know what I see.

You see accurately. I was Little A. My parents were divorced when I was just a baby, and I saw my dad every year or two, for short visits; he was abroad. When I was three or four, I used to ask strange men on the street whether they were my daddy. Piteous. I'll tell you, though. I had wonderful people bringing me up, and today I don't feel the lack-of-father-in-the-house at all. He is still alive, and I like him fine. I don't know if I love him; it doesn't much matter. The one who was hurt and remained hurt is my brother. I think Little A's going to do great. If she were a boy, I'd worry more. Sounds sexist, maybe, but that was my experience.

slouching mom said...

PS Great new site design!

BECC said...

Oh Jenn! I guess sometimes we (me, myself, and I) forget about Little A's future times to come, such as this, and I'm sorry.

I have such confidence in you that I guess I don't worry - I just know it'll all be okay... Just like she does.

And maybe - just maybe, someone special will fill her void and yours before that time comes.

I love you! You are amazing!

In the Trenches of Mommyhood said...

Wow. You are so amazingly articulate and truthful. I love reading your posts!

Angela said...

Kids are amazing. They are tough too. As long as a child has one great parent to guide them they will do just fine.

jen said...

you know, i keep having the sense of this being the part of the journey where things seem dark and windy, and yet just up ahead around the corner is something so very bright.

i keep thinking that every time i visit.

Ally said...

This was so, so beautiful and moving. Your love for your girls just pops right off the page and into my heart.

Aimee said...

You are doing it right, Jenn. Little A will wonder about her father, but her foundation is the love and support she is getting right. now. My grandfather left my grandmother with four small kids - he just quit and decided he didn't want them anymore. So my g-mother raised them all, and they have become successful, satisfied, happy people with loving families of their own. And they are all devoted to their families - boys and girls alike.
My dad tracked down his father, but all that came out of it was the his father still did not really want them. My aunts somehow knew this and refused to see him, preferring to keep their lives the way they had constructed
them. Their lives were full enough that they didn't feel the "want"

And kudos to the "stand-ins" they made a huge impact on my dad's life, and he credits them for the man he is today.

bgirl said...

i'm new to your site (ally and smamacita sent me)i did some backreading(a habit of mine)and it seems we have some similar themes in our lives.

i too have many *stand-ins* in my little guys life. all kinds of love to help grow my little boy.

little A will find her own way, and be a strong, courageous successful woman, like her mama clearly is.