My son’s dad isn’t the man who made him. This isn’t a secret from anyone who’s known me for longer than five minutes, nor from my son. But it’s one of those life-shaping, world-determining facts. Not something that plagues/rules my days—but something that has definitely steered the course. Like being white and born in a developed nation; I don’t actively think about it, but things would be very different if it weren’t the case.
My son is eight, he’s not stupid, and he’s always been told the truth. So, he’s becoming accordingly curious about his genetic father and threw down a serious load of questions over supper the other night.
“Why didn’t I have a dad before we moved to England?”
Well, buddy, that’s a great question. You know how we’ve talked about your dad is your dad, and another man’s sperm made you a few years before you met him? You had a biological father, that’s different than having a dad. It just took a while for you to meet your dad, that’s all.
“Why didn’t he marry you?”
We barely knew each other when I got pregnant with you, not nearly long enough to consider getting married. People have babies without getting married all the time, one shouldn’t determine the other. You are so very special, and special and important decisions had to be made so that everything worked out best for everyone. Getting married just because his sperm made you wasn’t the best decision.
“How long did you know him before you started… you know?”
Not long. Not the best decision I’ve ever made. A very irresponsible decision actually.
We’d known each other about a month before I got pregnant with you. That was a very thoughtless choice, but one I’m very glad I made because you’re here now.
“Why don’t I remember him? Did I ever meet him?”
My family was halfway across the country when I found out I was pregnant with you. It was best for everyone that I was closer to them, so I moved back. That’s why he wasn’t around. He drove down when you were three days old and stayed for a couple of days. You were an itty bitty newborn and wouldn’t remember that.
“So, he just didn’t want to know me? He didn’t want to marry you?”
Honey, this is a very big set of very wise questions. And I want to give you the best answers possible. Don’t ever be afraid to ask me anything, but please bear with me while I give you what I know to be true… It’s not that he didn’t want to know you. I firmly believe that he did want to know you. It’s just that he was really far away. It’s a big country, you know? I don’t know about marriage, but he would have lived with me if I’d wanted that, I don’t know. It’s not something I wanted, or even considered. I wanted you, I wanted to do what was best for you. And making someone be around, just because their sperm made you, never seemed like the best thing to do. Does that make sense?
Long, thoughtful pause… “Yeah, I think so. Can I see pictures of him again?”
Yeah, buddy. Finish your supper and we’ll look at pictures all you want.
“What’s he like, Mom? Is he nice?”
YES! He’s very nice. He’s very smart and funny. Obviously, since he helped make you, he’s totally awesome. He’s handsome and kind and thoughtful and smart… just like you… just like your dad. How lucky are you? You got the best of both worlds. A great set of sperm made your DNA and then a great man loved you enough to choose to be your dad.
“I love you, mom.”
I love you more, buddy…. To the moon and back, bigger than the whole wide world.
*My dream, today… to do this right.*