single mom

Tough Questions

Finding the right words is hard.

Yes, that’s a pretty big, generalized statement but I think it rings true to most situations we find ourselves in. It’s easy to say the wrong thing, isn’t it? Being diplomatic, professional, kind, understanding, whatever can be difficult and when you add emotions and a toddler to the mix, it becomes nearly impossible. I know this because F has a tendency to ask questions about things that I can’t always find the words to answer with. At least not totally truthfully. 


But I can’t lie to him.


A couple of months ago, F overheard me speaking to someone over the phone about the passing of my great-uncle. It piqued his interest. Who died, Mommy? he asked, innocently. Death is a big thing for a little guy to grasp. I explained who had died and asked if he remembered the man whom my family will miss so much. He didn’t, and I wasn’t totally surprised. Has he gone to be with my fishies? F asked a few minutes later. I figured telling him that no, we won’t be flushing great-uncle AJ down the toilet might not be the right response, so I said yes. He’s with the 4 fish we successfully managed to keep alive for a very short time. The idea of Heaven was much easier for him to understand. Heaven is so magical. Death is so final. So big.


His tough questions are coming more frequently as he grows up, and while I’m glad to see that he’s taking things in and he’s curious, I’m not always happy with the line of questioning. And I can only use “God made it that way,” or “God put that there” so often, and even then he tends to follow up with the number-one toddler favourite: WHY?


The toughest question hasn’t come flat out yet, but F dances around it regularly. Dad. 


Is Grampie my dad? he’ll sometimes ask, hearing me refer to my father that way. He’s your grand-dad, we all respond. No, F often responds, He’s my fah-ver and in a lot of ways, Dad has been. It was doubly hard when Red left, after telling F that he would be his dad and it will continue to be hard because kids sometimes don’t know better but often are mean. Explaining that Red loved him, but wasn’t his dad was excruciating. How do I tell him that the man who should have been there wasn’t? That he won’t be? 

My parents never lied to me about my adoption. I always knew I was adopted, but I always lived with the pain of not really knowing. It pains me to think that F might feel that way forever, because even knowing hasn’t helped. Even holding them hasn’t helped – the hurt remains. And, in the time between now and the day F asks me the question I dread, I’ll work on how to tell him the truth in a way that a little boy can understand.

So, if you need me, I’ll be drinking coffee and contemplating that. 

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