blank family treeOut of the blue 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 exactly figured out what to do about the “Daddy Dilemma”.

W and I were in Maryland last week visiting LJ and her son V. It was a lively home full of squealing boys and straw cups of milk.

The morning that W and I were packing up and 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 awesome Daddy. He makes little 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 absolute 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 – explaining that 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. At some point I need to have the meaning figured out.

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 sorted 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.

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

Who’s been on this road with their family? How did you explain the father stuff to your child (other children) and when?

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