Saturday, August 18, 2007
“…you don’t always get what you want; you get what you get. This is a real problem for me. You want to protect your child from pain, and what you get instead is life, and grace; and though theologians insist that grace is freely given, the truth is that sometimes you pay for it through the nose. And you can’t pay your child’s way.”
Anne Lamott, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, p81
Two things have happened since the end of January, when the last post left off, two things that left me feeling a bit at sea and unsure of what I should do.
First, Addison crossed some developmental line, entered new territory of awareness and started asking about his dad. I should say, started asking for his dad. Now, I expected this eventually. My sense has been that, at some point, Addison would start wondering about how he came to be in this world and I needed to ensure that he knew that it was all right for him to talk about his dad. I have made an intentional effort not to make his dad unspeakable in our home, to include him in our awareness in positive ways. To this point, this has been limited to bedtime prayers, when I generally say something along the lines of “Please be with Addison’s daddy, keep him safe, and give him everything he needs to be happy.” This is usually the last part of our prayer, generally followed by his crowing “Amen!” and that’s the end of it.
Then, he started noticing the specifics of different relationships. He was very curious about then proud of being able to explain “Grandma mommy’s mama.” He noticed other people’s daddies–became a bit obsessed, really–at times seemingly more interested in his friends’ fathers than in his friends.
The second thing that happened is that his dad called. Having resigned myself to the likelihood that he was going to disappear again, I was surprised to hear from him again. I was more surprised at the shift in his position. Where before he was completely focused on making things right with me so that he could move on, this time he talked about Addison and wanting to explore what kind of relationship they might be able to have. He laughed and then became emotional when I shared some stories about Addison.
And then I was back to the first thing. A few days later, Addison–who talks a lot but is still sorting out the basics of English grammar–said to me, “I want Addison’s daddy hug.”
“You want to hug your daddy?” I asked.
“Yes,” he responded, “I want hold you.”
“You want me to hold you?” I asked.
“No, I want hold you Addison’s daddy.”
“You want your daddy to hold you?”
I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything. Just gave him a hug.
A couple of days later, Addison piped up again. “I want Addison’s daddy talk.”
Prepared by our previous conversation, I said, “You want to talk to your daddy?”
This one I let go by. I wasn’t prepared for this. I didn’t know what to do. I had thought that, when the time came, I would respond to any direct request for help with contacting his dad. I wasn’t expecting the request to come at age two.
Maybe an hour later, Addison said, “I want call him.”
“You want to call someone?”
“Yeah, Addison’s daddy.”
I couldn’t ignore that one. So, we called, using Skype on my computer. After each ring, Addison would say “Hi, Dad!” I explained that he needed to wait until someone answered. When Adam’s voicemail eventually picked up, and Addison heard his dad’s voice for the first time, he was tongue-tied and just kept saying “Hi.” Finally, he said “it’s Addison.”
His dad called back a few days later, after Addison was in bed. We talked a bit and sorted out the time difference. He said he would call in a few days–today or tomorrow.
This is all moving and terrifying for me. I remember two and a half years ago, anticipating Addison’s birth, reading and writing about Anne Lamott’s account of her son’s coming to know his father. At that time I was inspired by her generosity and courage and faith and honesty. I wanted and want to emulate this.
So, now, I am trying not to hold my breath waiting. I am trying not to imagine how Addison might someday soon wait and wait for his dad to call, how he might be disappointed and hurt if the calls don’t come as promised. I am trying to believe that, whatever the path this relationship with his dad takes, Addison will find the grace to meet what he gets. I wish I could do it for him.