Branches of Our Family Tree: The Daddy Dilemma

6 years ago

It happened the other day. A simple life moment that made me realize that after all the research I put into donor sperm, artificial insemination and IVF, I had not figured out what to do about the "Daddy Dilemma."

W and I were in Maryland last week visiting LJ and her son V. Another good friend and her son also came to visit because the hurricane had knocked out the power at her home, work and son's school. It was a lively home full of squealing boys and straw cups of milk.

The morning that W and I were getting ready to leave LJ's son V asked her if we had to go because "W missed his Daddy." LJ looked up over at me, eyes sort of wide and I blinked back at her three times to convey HOLY COW!

V has a pretty amazing Daddy. He makes V feel like the center of the universe, he swoops V up in big Daddy hugs and kisses, and he reads a bedtime story like he has a degree in it. V is lucky to have such a great dad and I know that his dad feels pretty effing lucky to have a son like V.

So of course it makes total sense that in V's mind my son would be missing his Daddy because if V had been away from his home for several days, he would be missing his.

LJ responded that W was probably missing his Lolly as W lived in a house with a Mommy and a Grandmother and not in a house with a Mommy and a Daddy. This was a satisfactory answer and LJ and I both exhaled a bit.

Out of earshot of little guys LJ and I talked about where that conversation would go next. No, W does not have a Daddy. But he does have a Father. Or does he have that? These are not biological questions because OF COURSE there is a man out there that helped (with a team of doctors) to father my son. But these terms, these words: Dad, Daddy, Father. They have some weight to them, some meaning.

It feels overly simple to say, "You have a Father, but you do not have a Dad." And yet I think that is not simple enough for a toddler to understand.

I'm pretty annoyed at myself that I haven't figured this out. I know W's creation story. I know how to explain, "this is how you came to be in my life." But one day (and wow, it looks like it will be soon), W will come to me and ask if he has a Dad. I am not ready. At all.

I think all I can do is answer yes. To both. Yes he has a Dad and yes he has a Father. Until he/we can distinguish between the two I think I shouldn't do it for him*.

As for other children -- I am wondering if "yes he has a Dad but he does not live with us" is walking a weird line, but anything more elaborate really seems overreaching.

Who has been on this road? How did you explain the father stuff to your child (or other children) and when?

* = I have changed my mind about this. See the comments on the original post for how that happened!

Dresden blogs about Life, Celebrating Your Inner Geek and Single Motherhood at and tweets about needing more coffee @DresdenPlaid

{She said goodbye to Calliope, her alias of nearly 7 years, in August of 2011.} Google+

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