Saturday, December 31, 2016

Presents Cannot Replace Presence

A few weeks ago, I posted on my personal Facebook page about having a big, fat failure moment as a parent. Since then, I've come to the realization that I'm raising a prepubescent male and my inadequacies in handling this transition are on full display. I vehemently believe that women can raise strong, intelligent, healthy men. Yet, I simply cannot replace his father or the role that his dad is supposed to play.

In the photo above, my son is holding the book "The Boy in the Black Suit" by Jason Reynolds. Matt, the main character, lost his mother to breast cancer and his father isn't coping well. Both Matt and my son are grieving the loss of a parent, except in my son's case, he's never experienced life with his father. All of his memories are outlandish stories that he created about his father coupled with the two times they met in his 10 years.

My son and I have had some honest conversations this past year, but Christmas was the most honest. In the past, we've had those moments where he was looking forward to his dad attending his baseball game only to be disappointed because it was the last game of the season and he never showed. Or racing to the mailbox daily in hopes of finding a package that his dad promised he'd send only to be let down because it never arrived. Or sending a series of text messages with no response. In spite of all of this, I've promised myself never to say anything ill of his father because I wanted him to come to his own conclusions.

That changed a bit on Christmas. After my daughter's father left from delivering presents and spending a little time with us, I could see the hurt in my son's eyes. I knew he was longing for the same relationship with his own dad. As we sat on the sofa, I told my son that he and his dad would probably never have that relationship. Fighting back tears, he nodded his head in agreement. I watched my son throughout the day and checked on him often. He reassured me that everything was okay. Still, I have this nagging feeling that in spite of all the gifts that he received, the presents simply cannot replace his father's presence.

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