The most common question I get asked is how I became a single father.
I usually don’t answer, simply because it is such a long answer.
I promise to cover it in a future blog.
On the rare occasion that I do answer it, I get the inevitable follow up question;
“Aren’t you angry with her?” meaning my kid’s biological mother.
Honestly I never had time to be angry about it.
I have been pretty busy the last 12 years, and also I am way too selfish of a person to harbor anger.
I just don’t like the way it feels.
But there is one question that I always ask myself.
And that is, “What the hell am I going to do when Chloe (insert major female right of passage here).”
It used to be “What the hell am I going to do when Chloe needs a bra?”
That turned into “What the hell am I going to do when Chloe has her period?!”
Now I am wrestling mind-bending questions like “What the bloody hell am I going to do when Chloe starts dating???!!!”
Or “How will I stop from murdering a grown man when I catch him checking out my daughter?!!!”
It is not that I am your typical clueless man.
I am a musician and a writer.
I was raised by women.
When I was little I had long hair so people always said what a pretty little girl I was.
I have always been fascinated with the fairer sex, so I spent a good deal of my life studying them.
I have a very small measure of understanding of what it means to be a woman.
But there is still that crippling handicap.
I am a man.
So when a female friend told me Chloe needed a bra (and Chloe was only 10!!!!!) I was annoyed and in complete denial.
When a second female friend told me the same thing, I realized I must be missing something.
I looked at my little girl.
She was just a little girl.
She didn’t have curves.
She didn’t have breasts.
She was my little bacon bit ( her pet nickname from when she was a toddler).
Why were these women seeing breasts when she clearly was just a little girl.
So I asked Chloe…
“Yeah. I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that…” she said.
An hour later we were bra shopping.
I felt bad for Chloe.
I felt like I had failed her.
I had tried to find a woman who would take this role, but I had picked the wrong women.
Or maybe I was just the wrong man and had sabotaged the right women.
I don’t know.
But standing under the harsh fluorescent glare of the department store lights I was exposed.
Exposed for the man I am.
Exposed for the fraud I will inevitably be, when trying to navigate seas I have no business in.
A stranger in a strange land of under-wire protection and push-up support.
Feeling inadequate simply because I AM inadequate and wishing beyond wishing that I had just dated women who loved Chloe and had put my own selfish needs aside.
Double D, C. B. A…drowning in a sea of bras, I thought of the jokes men would make about women’s breasts and I wanted to punch every man in the entire world right in their collective throats. I thought about men looking at my daughter’s chest and objectifying her and every callous, jagged locker-room comment I had ever overheard came swarming back to me 10,000-fold and then when I was right on the verge of panic I heard her tiny voice…
“I like this one” she said.
And she is holding it in front of her.
“I can’t cry. Not here. Cry later. This is about her. Not about you.” my inner monologue rolls on.
Practical dad speaks through me “Will it fit?”
“I think so.” she says.
And with that she slides it over her head and turns around.
I help her to fasten it and think of more callous male jokes about bra clasps.
But I am no longer angry…or panicked…
I am so choked up that my throat hurts.
She straightens it out a bit and I say “How does it feel?”
“Kinda weird.” she says and turns around.
I see now what the women were talking about.
My daughter has boobs.
No. “Boobs” sounds silly.
My daughter has…hmmmm…”breasts” sounds clinical and “tits”…no freaking way does my daughter have TITS!!!
My daughter has…beauty
My daughter IS…blossoming…
My daughter IS…beautiful..
My daughter IS…perfect.
It doesn’t matter what we call them.
They are HERS and SHE can call them whatever she wants.
They are hers and they are her and I have new-found respect for breasts and women in general.
All the books on feminism and college courses on gender did nothing to prepare me for this.
“Chloe.” I say “I’m sorry you don’t have a mom to do this with you. I’m sorry if this isn’t how you imagined it.”
“You ARE my mom.” she says.
And then something flew into my eye.