There’s No Daddy Here

Holding handsA year or so ago, my daughter Katie noticed that her family looked different. She was doing a class project that involved identifying family members. Her drawing included the two of us plus Max the cat and Delta the dog. There was a lopsided house, some grass, and a flaming sun. Grandpa and Grandma levitated in the distance.

When the drawing came home, I asked Katie about it. She pointed to Mommy and Katie, then the pets—which was good because I couldn’t really tell what those low-slung blobs with horns (I mean, ears) were. I complimented her house and she told me the sun was hot. I agreed. Then she said sadly, “No daddy here.”

No, there’s no daddy here.

It makes me sad that my daughter doesn’t have a father. That certainly wasn’t the plan. My ex-husband’s refusal to finalize Katie’s adoption was harder to accept than our divorce. Plus it created a strange legal twist. As far as Katie is concerned, my ex is just some guy I was married to. Not her biological dad or her legal one, he’s a non-entity—at least as far as the courts are concerned. I’ve been unable to determine how she views the subject.

Given that we split up when she was 2 ½ years old, I’m not sure if Katie remembers my ex-husband. But periodically she says his name and it makes me wonder. Is it the specific person that she mourns or simply the void in our home that a man would fill?

When she made her comment on that fall day, I merely confirmed her statement and we both moved on. She didn’t seem to want more from me than that acknowledgement. And frankly, I was relieved to drop the subject. I was hoping she’d go a bit longer without noticing the glaring omission in her family tree.

But the past few months she has told me, over and over, that she wants to go see daddy. (Of course, she also asks to go see mommy while standing directly in front of me, so I take these requests with a grain of salt. Sometimes she says stuff because, well, she just remembered she can.) She obsessively asks to see Gabriel, another new friend, as well.

I’m not sure what this development means. I’m thrilled she’s asking to play with Gabriel; decidedly less so about her requests to visit the non-existent daddy. Some days I wish parents were supplied with a handy rule book for times like these. Divorce from a biological father I could explain, but not this—especially to a child with limited verbal skills. I was stumped.

The universe has a way of solving problems in the most unexpected ways. Katie’s beloved afternoon therapist accepted a teaching position several weeks ago. Her supervisor filled in until a new therapist could be found. Last week the new therapist arrived, and his name is Brad.

Katie broke into a huge grin the moment she saw him. The next day I picked her up at school and the first thing she said was: “I want to see Brad.”

Brad, Brad, Brad.

Yesterday she said, “First Brad, then Gabriel.”

So many men. So little time.

Until next time,
Cynthia Patton

About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
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2 Responses to There’s No Daddy Here

  1. Jenn says:

    sweet!! once again, I’m sure that Katie has found the right mom– you do your best, you do it with love, and in the end it will all work out fine.

    • cjpatton says:

      Back when Katie said her first two words on a horse, my friend Barb said to me, “I think everything is going to be fine.” For some reason I believed her then–when not much seemed even remotely close to fine–and I still do. Some days I feel it more than on others, but overall, I’ve been blessed with a sense that everything is going to work out the way it’s supposed to.

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