At the playground today, Ruby was on the swings alongside a very bubbly and sweet little girl (age five and a half, she later informed me), and in her usual inquisitiveness, Ruby asked the girl, "What's your mom's name?"
"My mom's name is Sherry."
"And what's your dad's name?"
"My dad's name? I don't have a dad!"
"Oh, well, I have a dad and his name is Allen."
The exchange ended there. The dadless girl was very matter of fact, as was Ruby. So far, she hasn't asked why the girl doesn't have a dad. Truthfully the only thing I can say is that I don't know. Maybe he died before she was born. Maybe he was in the picture but left when she was too little to remember. Maybe he left before she was born. Maybe he's in the army. Maybe he's in jail. God only knows.
But I'm very thankful that my kids have a dad and that his name is Allen. I don't know if I'll do another long vacation without him. He doesn't really get vacation time from work, and it's very fortuitous how it worked out this time around (it gives him an extra few weeks to get the new house into shape), but it is hard to be away. The kids miss him and need him, and so do I.
I'm not on my own, by any means. My mom and dad, brothers and sister are all here and are such wonderful, loving, available caregivers. But none of them is my kids' dad, and that's a pretty irreplaceable job position.