12 September 2017
Never a Dad 2.0
I still wonder what my life would be like if we had been able to have kids. The vision of being a father is fading fast in the rear view mirror of my life and the empty canvas of the unplanned back half is unknown. I often find my connections to other people can be difficult because we don't have children. The shared experience of having a family as a parent is lost on me in absolute terms; I understand it but I don't really "get" it. That undying love that a parent feels isn't something I can pull from my life and to be honest, I find myself leaning inward and becoming more withdrawn sometimes as we pass further from this time in our lives. It's not depression anymore, more a numbness on an old wound that never healed properly.
We still get the adoption question and while I know people are well meaning, the process is something we looked into and for our own reasons feel like it isn't for us. Our lives are careening toward a future we couldn't envision and our options have been exhausted. It can be frustrating when you know the barriers to your reproductive health are both medical and financial and there is nothing you can do about either. We contemplated IVF with the announcement of Ontario's funding increase but it became apparent that even with that help it was beyond our means to afford, emotionally or otherwise. To know you came up short and are leaving an important part of the human experience in the dust is unsettling some days, despite an overall happiness with our lives.
The great unknown of what could have been is what will always linger in the back of my mind. Having been raised by parents who did everything they could to give us a good life, I envisioned being a very involved Dad. Coaching sports, helping with school projects, playing made up games, healing hurts and all the other million things a parent does. Late nights caring for a sick kid aren't high on my list, but I would have done it because I would have loved my child more than anything in the world. That kind of love transcends anything I have experienced and knowing that I will miss out on that is probably what kills me the most. I wanted to feel that kind of joy when I looked down at my sleeping child, heard a first word, watched a first step or even shared their first beer.
Long term, life will go on, joy will be present in other forms but I know that I will never get to hold my child in my arms. That one is tough to take, I have had loss and disappointment in my life but I never saw being childless as a possible outcome. It's not that there is no value without kids, many of our friends and family have gone through this and live rich and fulfilling lives. I love what I have built with Kathryn and have no wish to be anywhere but here. I have a good job and am almost at the point where the mistakes of the past, financially anyway, are behind me and repaired. I get to drink amazing beers all the time and am constantly meeting new people who quickly become friends. But there are going to be quiet moments when I will be caught off guard and feel that longing to be more than I am. Dad is one title I shall never acquire and that will always be the saddest thing I can imagine.