Back in January, I took my almost two-year-old on her first tropical vacation. We left the frigid cold of our home state and headed to the beach in Hawaii – ready for some sun, surf and the necessary Vitamin D boost every Alaskan girl needs right around that time of year.
We were by the pool one day when she became transfixed by a little boy playing nearby. She was at that age where she was drawn to other kids, but didn’t quite know how to approach them. And so, she sat there on my lap, watching. Observing. Taking in his every move and mannerism.
It was as she was watching that he began dancing circles around his father, singing a little ditty he appeared to have made up himself on the spot, “Daddy, Daddy, I love my Daddy.”
My little girl perked up, hearing in his sing-song voice a chance to join in. And so, she looked at me and cocked her head before repeating his tune with a smile, “Daddy, Daddy, I love my Daddy!”
I smiled back at her, knowing she didn’t really understand what she was singing. But inside, a part of me ached. Wishing she had a daddy of her own to idolize.
As a single mother by choice, I’m not supposed to admit this. Our rally cry is supposed to be that we can do this on our own, that our kids aren’t suffering at all for lack of a father.
But even though I know full well that we can do this on our own, the truth is, I routinely find myself wishing my daughter had that father figure in her life.
I lost my fertility at a fairly young age. It was only then that I realized I would rather be a single mother, than to never be a mother at all. I’m not opposed to love. In fact, I would absolutely be open to finding someone amazing to share this life with. But in reality, I do the whole “single” thing pretty well. I know I don’t need a man in my life to be happy, and I also don’t need one to be the best mother I can be. So I remain eternally grateful that I took that leap and became a mother when I did, rather than waiting around for a Prince Charming who may never actually appear.
My daughter has been the best thing to ever happen to me. And our relationship is, arguably, much stronger because it is just the two of us.
But still, I yearn for a father for my daughter.
That yearning might have something to do with how extremely close I am to my own father. He raised me primarily on his own, and is one of the most amazing men I know. He has always been my biggest supporter, and someone I have known I could rely on and turn to. To this day, whenever I have a problem or something I am worried about, he is the very first person I call. In a lot of ways, you might say that my dad is my best friend.
And I want that for my little girl.
She does have a father, though neither of us has ever met him. I spoke to him on the phone a few times, shortly after her birth. The first time we talked, he said, “Is this my baby mama?” It made me laugh, if only because they were words I had never expected to hear. He signed the adoption paperwork without issue and called the courtroom on the day of her adoption hearing to tell the judge he believed I was the person who should be raising his daughter, but that was pretty much it.
I’ve heard from him once since then. Two sentences regarding how big she has gotten, and no response when I replied almost immediately back to him.
So she has a father, but she doesn’t have a daddy.
And I wonder, will she miss that growing up? Will she wish she had a daddy to teach her how to fish, like I did? Or one to take her camping or to walk her down the aisle? Surely, I can do all the things for her that any father might – but that relationship is different. And I guess I just wish she could have the best of both worlds.
On the flip side, it’s becoming more and more clear that kids don’t need a parent of both sexes, or even two parents, in order to have healthy and happy childhoods or bloom into productive adults. The science on this is in: the children of single mothers by choice are thriving.
The biggest factor for their success is love and openness, which we have in spades. From there, most experts simply recommend ensuring you have role models of both sexes available to your child – something we, again, have more than our share of. Not only does my little girl have the world’s most amazing grandfather, but she also has some pretty loving and involved uncles in her life who would move mountains for her.
We are insanely lucky. And my daughter has more love in her life than many children could even think to hope for. But when I see her picking up on that word “Daddy,” or becoming transfixed by the fathers she sees in movies (King Triton has recently become her favorite), my heart hurts a little… wishing she had a daddy of her own.
Maybe because she’s my little girl, and I want her to have it all.
Will we both be just fine if that man never turns up in our lives? Absolutely. Let there be no doubt – we’ve got this.
But this Father’s Day, I guess I just want to admit – I wouldn’t hate having a partner in all this. Not so much for me… but for her.