I completely understand what this comment is supposed to mean. It is a compliment, and I appreciate a person trying to be kind and positive. Someone said this to me yesterday, and, unlike ever before, it's irked me since. I'm not irritated by the comment or the person, but something about that comment - "It's his loss" - has been a thorn in my side for the last 24 hours.
As I was brushing my teeth this morning, often my most two thoughtful minutes of the day, I realized why this sentence bothered me so. It's because it's not just his loss. When a father is not involved in his kids' lives, when he fails to pick them up every other weekend, when he doesn't come to dance recitals, when it's known that his wages had to be garnished because he didn't willingly pay the $150/kid child support, he is not the only one who has lost something.
The mother of those kids has lost the function of being simply "mom." She now has to play Dad, too, which is way different than Mom. She assumes an edge that's less than maternal, partly for survival and partly because that what she has to do to mimic that dad-like role. She also has lost time and the privilege of sharing the joys and pains of raising children with someone else. Presley was a giggle-monster last night, and Grant and I marveled over it after she went to bed. A single mom has no one to share that with.
The child's future spouse also loses out. Usually, a girl whose father is not involved will end up marrying someone to quickly fill a void, which usually ends up being the wrong person. But let's assume the best and say she ended up marrying an awesome husband like I did. Well, this poor fellow has to deal with the brunt end of my "daddy-issues," as Grey's Anatomy calls it. And just when I think these issues are sorted out, a new one will pop up from no where. Sometimes these daddy-issues end up being mommy-issues because, like I mentioned before, the mommy wasn't able to be the kind of mommy God designed because she had to find the time to be the daddy, too.
Obviously, the children of this absent father has lost something as well. As I'm writing this, the ways in which these children (me) have lost out sting too much to list and discuss. Even though I'm totally used to it - that not having a regular dad is the norm to me and I seriously don't think about it much - it still bites when I stop to think about it. When I see Grant and Presley and imagine what her life will be like with her dad, it is a bittersweet emotion for me. I never knew, at least I never had witness to, what it would be like to have an involved dad in the household. It's God's design for a child to have both parents. They both mold the child in different ways, play a different part, model Christ in differenly. A child loses out, among many other things, on proper spiritual guidance and examples. Not that this can't be made up for in other ways or in adulthood, but it just makes for a more difficult journey to put into practice.
So, while I still accept it as a compliment when someone says it, I have come to terms that is not just "his loss." Entire family units, both present and future, lose something when a child's father is absent.