Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Family Portrait without a Father

Father's Day: my Facebook feed, my radio stations, my internet news sites, have all been flooded with the trumpeting of Father's Day.

What do you do if you are raising children without a father?

I know some fathers leave by choice, some withhold their love from their children, and some are just lost.

My own children lost their father to cancer three years ago.  My oldest two, teens when he died, have a lot of memories of their father, (which isn't to say that it makes the lost somehow less, or easier to bear).

But my youngest two don't have as many memories.  They are basically growing up without a strong male influence in their lives.

I can't teach them to play baseball.  I can't teach them to change a tire on a car.  I cannot fill that gap.  

Of late, I have been binge listening to the podcast of Mark Maron.  He had comedian Joe Rogan on as a guest.  I don't know much about Rogan aside from his work on "Newradio", but Joe Rogan said something on the podcast that really resonated with me.

To paraphrase, the most interesting people he knows all had to overcome some sort of trauma or adversity in their childhood.  For him, it was an abusive father that he didn't see after the age of six.

Basically, everyone I have ever been close to had something in their childhood that left them emotionally bruised or battered.  Whether it was divorce or a dysfunctional family, none of them escaped childhood without some sort of emotional trauma.

They came out the other side damaged, but not irrevokably broken.

My boys will grow up with that same sort of adversity.  It's not a wound that I can possibly fix.  I can love them from here to the moon, but the loss of their father isn't a gap in their lives that I can fill by wearing a lot of plaid and taking them fishing.

The hearts of my beautiful boys are damaged.  They have suffered an emotional trauma that will never go away.

I can only hope that they will come out the other side of their childhood, somehow stronger, self reliant, and maybe, just maybe, a little more interesting for what they have survived.

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