The Father’s Day that isn’t…

Today’s Father’s Day. Last night and early this morning, on twitter and facebook, I had a series of conversations w/ people about this statement:
“Followers/Friends, I love you, but you can miss me tmrw w/ all that celebrating mothers as fathers for Father’s Day. You may have raised your child, as a single mom, by yourself (and that is awesome), but you. are. not. the. father. #KeepItReal”
The conversations were illuminating, emotional and powerful. But I didn’t make the most controversial statement that’s been raging in my mind, especially today.

On a lot of levels, it’s reasonable for me to think at 43 years old that I may not become a father. I have many friends and family who say I would be a great father and I believe that’s true.  I am a proud godfather to three children. I am an Uncle Sam many times over, and I enjoy that role.  But it’s simply not true that a man can become a father however and at whatever age he wants.  In fact, I’ve come to think of fatherhood as an exercise in not in having control, though many men try.  Let me explain.

I once partnered with a woman who I got pregnant. She didn’t want to have the baby, and I did.  But as a proponent of her ability to choose (and I still am and would be), it was her choice about what happened with her body. I was with her in the “procedure” room when we terminated the pregnancy. I had a lot of of emotions, but in that moment, I focused on holding her hand, sensing, correctly, that it might be a long time before I would be on the brink of having a child.  I didn’t have a choice. And that doesn’t become a rallying point for me nor should it for anyone else to embrace pro-life, but it does bring to the fore that much of what happens after conception isn’t in a man’s circle of control. (Although Congress is trying for it to be, unfortunately.)

I also think that the question of having children doesn’t stop at pregnancy or delivery. It really does depend on a heterosexual man’s partner as well. Unless I am fortunate to jointly fall in love with a younger woman who wants and can have children, it becomes more and more likely that I will be with an older woman as a long-time partner.

This means that my partner could be hazarding a high-risk pregnancy. Or it could mean that she may not want children at all, because she either has some already and doesn’t want more or can’t have more.  The latter scenario leaves me either looking elsewhere because I may want to have a child more than be with the woman I love. Or I stay with the woman I love, but just minus producing children with her. The first scenario is something I would only hazard with an older woman if it were really, really important to her.  If I were dating a woman my age, I’m not so sure I could be selfish enough to request her to risk her life or the baby’s to have a child for me…unless that’s also what she really wanted.

I could also partner with a woman who is younger than I am, but, again, life offers no guarantees with pregnancy for a man or a woman.  I’m still faced with the choice of loving the idea of having a child more than having a partner who may or may not be able to have a child.  I’m no Henry VIII-like dude,  so I’m not interested in seeking some kind of “insurance” for having a child by being with a younger woman because there is none, really.

Of course, many have suggested adoption or foster care, but I’m not so sure about the State being excited about a single male astrologer adopting children or providing foster care.  I don’t even want to be a single parent.  I never did.  I know many women are single parents and that wasn’t by choice.  But it was still with a lot more choice than I really have, unless I just want to sire children without regard to any genuine connection to the mother, which, of course, some men do. I am not one of them.

So I really wish people would stop saying, at least to me, that you’re a man, you can have a child whenever you want to. No, I can’t.  Fatherhood is a fortunate blessing. Some men impregnate and many men step beyond that moment and assume a role–fatherhood. However, at this stage in our evolution, the key vehicle of birth is through a woman’s body. I’m fine with that as that provides a genuine opportunity for partnership for a man. I may find that opportunity, but I am now beginning to accept the idea that I may not step into that role.

The child I didn’t have would be 12 now.  I tend to think she would have been a girl. Perhaps she would be wishing me a happy father’s day today. Perhaps she would be with her mother or we would all be together.  But she’s not here. It’s useless to really wonder what would have been as it’s not. I still do anyway. I live with the choices I make and the ones I don’t and didn’t.

7 Responses to “The Father’s Day that isn’t…”

  1. SoJo Says:

    I’ve always taken for granted that guys could have children whenever they wanted. I never looked at it from this perspective. Thank you for sharing with us.

  2. Raven Says:

    A woman your age would not necessarily be risking her life to have a child. Women have a lot more flexibility these days than they used to have due to the benefits of modern technology. Each case is unique. I’m a few years older than you and if I wanted a child, I would not hesitate to try even in my 50s.

  3. Ayesha Grice Says:

    Back in the day when I was a child all adults were our mothers, fathers and grandparents, regardless of biology. I was also taught by medicine elders who’ve told me the same thing about children, they just belonged to the tribe. And no, a woman can’t be a father, but in these days too many times she has to be both mother and father. I don’t need to bore you with statistics to prove the fact that we are suffering from a deficit of good and caring fathers. I do salute the brothers who are doing what they signed up for and helping with the rearing of their own biological children. I also salute the brothers who haven’t had children but who are assisting in the parenting role for a child or children whose biological father is absent (for any reason). I also can readily understand why some mothers are being saluted on father’s day, because they have stepped up to the plate and are doing their best to be both mother and father to their child/children. If you’re looking at it with your left brain that can only acknowledge what you can see, feel, hear or touch, then yes it is biologically impossible for a mother to be a father. I would ask you to use a whole brain approach to your theories and realize that truth is more than what’s written down on pieces of paper. I have personally witnessed many women who are soft and nurturing when they need to be and tough as nails when they have to be. I have witnessed many women who provided for their offspring and gave their children the example of what it is to be courageous and strong when life presents the conditions that call for it. So I’m not mad at people who are giving shout outs to mothers who’ve had to be fathers too. This is the state of our affairs, for now, hopefully not forever. Biologically, she’s a woman, but spiritually she’s had to become both yin and yang, mother and father.

    • return2thesource Says:

      I hear you, Ayesha, and I’m not saying that a mother can’t assume roles that’s normally associated with being a father. But one societal trend that I think should be bucked is thinking that assuming certain roles is the same as being the thing itself. They’re not. Is being a mother a simple exercise in biology? No, there’s a transformation that occurs in a woman becoming a mother, a likely spiritual, psychological and physiological transformation. That is not just a province of biology. The same is true for a father. So a mother can be father-like, but never a father. Just like a man can be mother-like, he can’t be a mother.

  4. Michelle Says:

    Interesting article. I enjoyed reading your perspective. You may be able to get someone pregnant at any time, but that’s not the same thing as being an actively involved parent in a loving relationship with your spouse.

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