Friday, June 13, 2014

I'm Not a Good Father

I remembered why I no longer watch The View about three minutes in.

They asked their male guest co-host about fatherhood, then tore into him when he started to answer.  Apparently he had made some comments on the internet that a father can give a child things a mother can't.

Whoopi and Jenny came unglued.

How DARE he say that? How dare he insinuate that a woman can't give her child everything all by herself? There are plenty of women who... why I never... HRUMPH!

I've raised my kids alone for most of their lives after the death of their father.  I know what people are TRYING to say when they give me a pat on the back and say I'm both mother and father to them.

That's just not true.

I am a hell of a good mother according to my kids, but I'm not a father.

Now that I've lost a few of you and put my feminist card at risk...

I made the conscious decision, after a couple of failed relationships with men who ultimately failed the "father material" test, to go it alone. At that point, I would have probably bristled at the notion (... and I DID when a teacher told my SON his mother needed to find a husband, but that's a rant for another day.) that I couldn't give them everything. My pride was at stake.

I've done a pretty decent job of broadening my horizons, embracing the finer points of guyness... I go to car shows, I can scratch, burp, cut the cheese... I have an encyclopedic knowledge of poop jokes.

That only takes one so far.

I can show them how a strong person copes with the metaphorical poo life flings, and I can build them up to not be limited by gender roles and to respect people regardless of their place in life.

What I can't do is SHOW them what a man should be. I've been fortunate to have had some good role models for them along the way. They've had some good uncles, family friends and now Steven has a whole new set of positive influences in the men of his day program and our activity group. He isn't just watching from the outside, pining for a Dad, that's not how we roll.  Instead, this amazing group of men has reached out to him, included him and showed him that men can be equal and loving parents to their children and stepchildren. He sees how they treat their wives with love and respect... and he gets to whisper and giggle with them about the mysterious "guy stuff".

I know some spectacular single fathers, too. They've stepped up and taken on nontraditional parenting jobs just like I have. Wonderful fathers? You bet. Mothers? Nope.

I'm NOT saying a single parent needs to rush into finding a partner, nor am I blaming women OR men for not doing things "right". I had both of my kids without the benefit of marriage, and my daughter was adopted by my new husband and had a real Daddy for far too few years before he died.

My own father died when I was in my obnoxious teen phase, so my experience with a Dad is fairly limited. My uncle died before my Dad did, but I carry part of them both with me.  I had a deep, enduring love for my grandpa, and had the privilege of caring for him until his days were done.

Each of these men brought something to my development that shaped me into the person I am now, into the parent I am now.

They loved me and taught me differently than my sweet Grandma, who inspired and comforted me in her own ways.

Does that mean I think parenthood is ONLY for man/woman couples? No.

I believe same-sex couples have as much to bring to the parenting table as anyone, maybe even more since they have to work hard and overcome much to become parents at all.

I'm just not ashamed to admit there are things I don't know. Things I just CAN'T know. I'm not offended at the notion a child can do better with the yin/yang of personalities and gender than with just ME.

We all do the best we can.

I wonder if it's just my intense dislike of Jenny McCarthy that made me yell at the tv and ask if she's SO sure she's parenting perfectly all alone, why is her son soon to have his second stepfather in his young life?


I guess neither of us are father material. :)

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