I'm a single parent by choice -- not because I don't understand the importance of a father, but because I decided that while I would be OK if marriage never happened, I wouldn't be OK if I was never a mom.
Choosing to be a single parent is no minor decision. Obviously I knew that I was choosing to have all the responsibility squarely on my shoulders. Admittedly, it would be nice to have a dad to take over for my queasy self when my son comes home with yet another bloody wound from a daredevil bike stunt. And I would love to sleep in just once and let a dad get up at the crack of dawn with my early-bird child. But more than that, choosing to be a single parent through adoption meant that I was making a choice for my child. It's not just that my son doesn't have a dad on the scene; he has no legal father at all. Every field for a father's name is left blank on forms -- and there is no Ward Cleaver-esque guy to coach baseball or make Father's Day cards for.
There are plenty of men in my family who are positive male role models, but my son needed something more. So I signed my son up for the Big Brothers program.
It took one long year for my son to be matched with his Big, but when it happened, it happened in a hurry. I received an urgent call from the BB office asking us to come in right away. After one year of anxiously waiting, I wanted everything to slow down. I had so many questions about this man. Yes, I know that BB screens and trains their Bigs ... but still, I'm the parent and I wanted to know who my son was going to be hanging out with.
I have to admit that I was skeptical. I had specifically asked for a stable adult -- not a college student or someone else who was likely to move. My son spent 10 years bouncing around in foster care; he needs stability and consistency now. So when I found out that my son's assigned Big was a college senior, I was less than pleased.
My son's Big didn't meet all of my criteria, but he's perfect for the job. He and my son hit it off from the start. It took a while, but my son's Big has learned how to be firm with my son while still being fun. They practice baseball, play video games, go to movies and shoot hoops.
My son's Big doesn't take on any of the tough stuff. He doesn't intervene when Cs and Ds show up on a report card, and my son's endless preteen questions about his body are 100 percent mine to answer. That's the way it should be. My son's Big is his friend ... plain and simple. A friend he can rely on and feel safe with. A friend who sets a great example and is always up for something fun. His Big doesn't -- and shouldn't -- take on a parenting-like role in my son's life. Frankly, I don't need help with parenting my son. But I can't provide the strong, stable male presence my son's Big offers.
Form fields for "Father's name" may still be blank -- and on the third Sunday of every June, my son wishes me a happy Father's Day. But my son has something a lot of other kids don't. He has a Big ... and we're both so grateful for that.