Sunday, June 20, 2021
Autism Answer: So Many Dads
When I first started having babies - looooooooooong ago - I thought dads were overrated. I thought sure, dads are fine, but I never really had one and I didn't think much about it. Staying in a relationship just to keep a dad around is worse for the kids than walking away and doing it yourself. Dads are fine, I guess, but overrated.
Now that I've had a lot more life and have met so many dads, including two of my sons who are now dads, I have a different way of seeing it.
My mom raised eight of us on her own, and she was undeniably enough. She was strong, no nonsense, hard working like a stereotypical father and soft, loving, singing like a stereotypical mom. Yet, she was anything but stereotypical. With adopted kids, biological kids, foster kids, homeless kids, crippled kids, disabled kids, abused kids, all the kids - she loved everyone equally, saw potential all around, and pushed us fiercely while showing us how to build our wings, roller skates, trucks, businesses, homes, whatever we needed to move freely our way in the world.
So it's true that a family can be raised without a dad. But it is not true that dads are overrated.
My own dad wasn't around much when my biological sister and I were growing up, though he wasn't entirely out of the picture. He was okay. He didn't help mom at all but he didn't hurt us when we visited. My step dad, however, was around and did help our mom for a while. He also did hurt us. When mom saw that she left him. It would be hard to overstate how drastically our lives were affected by him.
My entire childhood and teen years I dreamed of being a mom, but not of being a partner. I wanted the children and I wanted them alone. When I finally was having babies I never told the dads they could not see their children, but I subconsciously picked ones that wouldn't.
I, errrrrrr, I am not my mom. So I wasn't as awesome on my own. Luckily, my mom was there to help me out. And then, luckily again, I met a man who would be their dad.
He was great! I didn't live with him so I got to have my dream of being a mom alone, but I had help. He worked hard, cared about each one of the boys equally (only one was biologically his but you'd never have known by the way he treated them, though only one having black skin might have given it away. :D) and supported any dream we had. He was not overrated.
I started to notice other dads. Dads who were always there, dads who were behind the scenes, dads who were not really dads but taking on the role, dads who were helping and dads who were hurting. Dads are not, I began to notice, overrated. They are powerful.
There is no one way to be a good dad. But when you are a dad, you matter. My sons, the ones who never met their biological dads, had been hurt by that. But, luckily for all of us, they were also cared for by so many.
Right now two of my four sons are dads. (All four of my sons have always dreamed of being dads and I love that.)They are drastically different dads, but they are both dads that care about being dads. They are not overrated.
My love, the man I live with now, has been being a dad - with his own children and children of others - since he was nineteen or twenty. He stepped in and cared. He is not overrated.
My own dad wasn't there a lot when we were little. But later in life, when my sister and I were moms, he reached out. Funnily enough, to ask for help from my mom. For a while he was like one of the children my mom took in and loved fiercely while showing him how to build the wings he would eventually need to move freely out of this world. He was an attentive and available grandpa, my boys thought of him as a father figure. My oldest particularly. His presence in their lives, in our lives, is not overrated.
There are so many dads. Some are dads biologically, some are dads because they are moms alone, some are dads that step into a dad role, some are dads that are doing it alone. There are so many ways to be a dad. Fierce, quiet, available, at work, playful, nervous, accidental, confident, hard-lined, most often a mix of it all with certain features prominent. Whatever type of dad you are, whatever type of dad you have, whatever type of dad you are evolving into, remember you are powerful.
I was right that you don't have to have a dad but I was wrong about them being overrated.
A dad is a powerful thing.
If you are a dad, any kind of dad, one of so many dads, I hope you're aware that you matter. Whether the children you care for are little or grown, you matter. You are not overrated.
If you are a dad that is doing your best to be your best, thank you.
Happy Father's Day to so many dads!
Hugs, smiles, and love!!!