Caroline is a happy kid.  She has her friends at daycare, she has my parents, she has my friends, and she has me.  Her father is not all that present in her life, but she doesn’t seem to miss that.  I guess she hasn’t really ever known anything else.

But she’s only two and a half.  Someday, she is going to figure it out.  Someday, she is going to see her friends’ families and realize that they are different from hers.  Someday, she is going to ask questions.

“Why aren’t you and daddy together?”  ”Why isn’t daddy ever around?”  ”Why does (friend’s name)’s daddy live with her and mine doesn’t?”

What can I possibly say?  In my head, the conversation goes like this…

“Your daddy loves you very much, but he can’t be here the way your friends’ daddies can.”  ”Why not, Mommy?”  ”Well, he is very busy with his work, and his work needs him to travel all over the world, so he can’t always be right here with you.”  (Or, probably, “His work needs him to live far away from us.”)  ”He’s gone for his work?  What about me?  He loves his work more than he loves me?”  ”No, of course not, he loves you more than anything.”  ”So why isn’t he here?”

If I had answers to these questions, maybe I wouldn’t be divorced.

For now, I think I do a pretty good job of being everything she needs.  I try not to worry about the future.  I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, and all that.  But someday… she will need more than just me.  She will have a playdate at a house that contains that picture-perfect picket-fence family– the one who walks by us in the park and I look away.  And she will start to wonder.

Someday, she will ask.

And I have no idea what I am going to tell her.

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  1. by SingleMama

    On July 14, 2011 at 7:45 am

    This is the exact same thought that keeps me up at night. It breaks my heart knowing I will have to explain to my son why all of his friends and cousins have a dad and he does not.

  2. by Tanya

    On July 14, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    My 2 yr old has already said some things that indicate he’s got a clue that we’re a little different. And told him that some kids just live with their mamas because their mamas love them double. He puzzled me because he has never known his father. But I know in my heart that after giving his father a chance to be one, and witnessing the epic fail that followed, my decision to not allow him to be hurt or witness that bad example was the right one. As I explained to the sperm donor, you can’t be a parent only when it’s convenient.

  3. by Joy

    On July 14, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    I recently thought about how I would deal with these questions too. I remember when I was old enough to ask the hard-hitting questions of my parents, my image of them both was shattered (wait, maybe I’m going the wrong way with this!). For the first time, I saw my parents as imperfect. This was devastating after being raised in a home where nothing but perfection was acceptable. My son’s dad has made plenty of poor choices in the past concerning him and every day I hope things will change, for my son’s sake. I think the only thing I can stress to my son until he is old enough to ask me those dreaded questions is that nobody is perfect. Mom and Dad make mistakes too, but we both love him very, very much.

  4. by MJS

    On July 15, 2011 at 2:06 am

    I certainly don’t mean to make this seem like no big deal, however, growing up as Caroline did, I was really ok with it as things unfolded. You simply grow up used to whatever you have, and not only that, but everyone realizes somewhere along the line that there is no “perfect”, regardless of how many parents live in the home. The closest we get to perfect is being happy and secure in our real circumstances.

    Honestly, the hardest part for me was my mom’s worrying that I would feel all weird about our situation. I was perfectly content and dare I say… happy!… except for when she’d get all insecure that I was having a good enough childhood. I always wished there was a way to truly convince her that… I totally was. :)

    Again, I say this just as my experience, and hopefully just to express that things without a picket fence can turn out beautifully as well. Caroline is so lucky to have such a good mom. That is worth so very much.

  5. by Heather Morgan Shott

    On July 15, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Julia — As a child whose parents waited too long to divorce, I can tell you the best thing you could have done was not drag out a bad marriage and expose Caroline to all that entails. You are doing what’s right and when the time comes you’ll know exactly what to tell her.

  6. by Shannon

    On July 16, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Hey Julia! Just recognized you from the newest Parents magazine…thought the photo looked familiar and then remembered your story from the bump. Glad to see you’re still hanging in there and congrats on this new blogging gig!

  7. by Shannon

    On July 16, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Duh…this is SkypekWithoutAC ;-)

  8. by Raerae

    On July 16, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    I think the concern of how to explain why daddy isn’t there is very real because we all wish we had that perfect picture life; I know I worry about it too and I was raised by a single mom and don’t miss my dad whom I still don’t have a relationship with. Single moms have our work cut out for us but I think most of us do a pretty good job. Everyone is right….when the time comes we will all answer those questions the best we can and move on. Keep up the good work Julia and all of the rest of the single moms out there too!!

  9. by Julia

    On July 17, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Thank you, ladies, for the comments on this! They made me feel a lot better. :) It’s always good to know you’re not alone with these worries. And MJS, that’s very reassuring. I guess it’s one of those things that might be only as big a deal as you make of it, know what I mean?

  10. by Emily

    On July 18, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    I’ve recently told my almost-three-year-old that Mommy just isn’t happy when she lives with Daddy. I’ve also repeatedly told him that it is not his fault that daddy and mommy don’t live together. My son does have an on and off relationship with his dad, and last time I dropped him off with daddy, I heard him saying “it’s not my fault.” I think that honesty is the best policy, without going overboard.

  11. by Skinny Jeans Mom

    On July 21, 2011 at 1:10 am

    I am always in awe of single moms and dads who do what they need to do to raise their children. I work and am raising my son, and even with my husband at my side it’s difficult at times. So I truly give alot of respect to you and all single parents out there. And though she probably will ask questions like these someday, your daughter will never be short of enough love from you.

  12. by Caitlyn

    On August 19, 2011 at 4:57 am

    My fiance works on an oil rig so he’s out of state for a week at a time every other week. While he’s with us the other half of the year, he does miss out on a lot as well. When it comes down to “He loves his work more than me?”, the best I’ve ever heard was “No, he works as hard as he does because he loves you and working so much is the best way he knows how to show it.” (It was somehow said more eloquently than that while also being more first-grader friendly but you catch my drift, right?)
    You sound like you are doing an amazing job and because you are a single mom, Caroline will see more of your human side growing up. You can’t reach your breaking point and go into the other room to collect while someone else takes over so she’s going to see the minor meltdowns but she’s also going to see all of your smiles and laughs with her, the hugs and kisses you give her, and the snuggles you have for her in the morning and it’ll make you that much closer when she’s old enough to ask those questions. Besides, if she’s anything like her mom, she’ll see it as his loss anyway when she asks.

  13. by Jaime

    On August 23, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Honesty is the best policy, “Why aren’t you and daddy together?” because sometimes mommys and daddys are better at being the best they can be when they are not together ”Why isn’t daddy ever around?” because sometimes daddys aren’t capable of being there as a daddy when they haven’t grown up enough for themselves, nobody’s perfect, not even mommy & daddy ”Why does (friend’s name)’s daddy live with her and mine doesn’t?” because you deserve the best of daddy & mommy and daddy didn’t have his best to offer, the most important thing is its not babys fault, its ok to know that everyone has their flaws and regrets in life, and daddy will one day regret no being there