Recently I started a conversation with a male friend of mine via email about being divorced and a single mother on Father’s Day. Being a single mother for the past, you could say 13 years because even when my ex husband and I were married, he lived in a different state and I had our daughter in our home state, I was a single parent. As a single parent, without a parent to co-parent with, you are mother and father. You are the total disciplinarian. You are the nurse, the lawyer, referee, the teacher, in many cases therapist, and short order cook. For those that work whether full-time or part-time, you are an employee with all the above included. You have to make tough choices such as do I continue to wear the shoes that I have with the hole in the sole or do I buy my son jeans because he grew a couple inches. As a single parent you make choices that you never thought that you would have to make. And then mother’s day rolls around and you get the gifts that your children make at school and you appreciative of the art work while your former significant other drapes his mother in gold and diamonds and treats her to meals out. Yeah, I know right. So as my friend and I exchanged thoughts given that he is a non-custodial father, I asked him what he thought about single mother’s saying that Father’s Day was their day and here is what he had to say.
“ When I was younger, I used to hate hearing women say that (Father’s Day was their day too). It’s like you didn’t make the kid by yourself. As I have grown older, as my children have grown older, I see that I was wrong. I spent so much time blaming my ex-wife for our issues when I was equally responsible as she was for the break down. I have come to realize that Father’s Day is just as much a woman’s day as it is mine. But the level of your celebration depends on your level of parenting. If a woman does all the work, how can you say that Father’s Day is your day?”
I agree with him on certain points, but what I will say is this. If you live in a different state from your kids, i.e. a three-hour or more drive, you can’t be there for every milestone and every moment. You can share as much as you can via telephone and now technology has evolved where you can share more via the Internet and cell phones. If you live with in a two-hour drive, there is no reason that you cannot visit with your child on a weekend. I understand that finances are tough sometimes but that is when you form a relationship with the custodial parent and see if he or she is willing to meet you half way. If you live in close proximity there is no reason that you should not be there for every milestone for your child. No one expects you to be there 24/7, but you can make it school functions, little league games, etc. You can do more.
So back to Father’s Day, it’s my day. I have my children more during the year than their father’s. One is an hour away and the other is 10 minutes away. The father that is 10 minutes away, I was once married to. Since our oldest child came into the world, I have always been the hands on parent. As she has grown, I have seen how not having a father there has changed her. I can do only so much and one thing that I cannot do is be a man. My son, autism stole his voice very early. My ex husband does not know him before those years, he only knows the child now. It used to be sad that for four to five years he would look at men on TV and ask is that my dad even with knowledge of who his dad is, he sometimes will ask this question because out of sight out of mind. It does make me sad, but then when I think about it, not really all that sad because his father lives ten minutes away.
So Father’s Day is my day. It is every single mother’s day because she does what she has to do to take care of their children solely, physically and emotionally. Children deserve more than a check once a week, once every two weeks, or once a month. They deserve an active parent on both sides and parents that can co-parent and have their best interest at heart. I do not have this in my home. I make all the decisions for my children. I prepare all the meals, I may get a mental health break two or three weekends a year and time alone sometimes the week after Christmas, but it comes with complaints and being told what the other parent has to do in their life.
I am mother and father. It was not my choice. I will say that no matter what, I love my children. I will forever care for them and ensure that they are cared for. I have long gotten over the lack of involvement. You cannot change someone’s mind when they have decided that this is how they wish to parent their children, especially those that do not live in their home. I am long beyond the things that I cannot change. I do the best to provide my children with a stable parent no matter how hard the struggle may be. I know that they appreciate me when I help with their homework. They appreciate me when I bake them their favorite treats. They appreciate me when we are outside playing together. I know that they will remember the good days of their childhood included their mom, always their mom. If I had any advice to give dad’s today, I would say, put aside your difference and work hard to ensure that your children are supported physically as well as emotionally. Women do it everyday; we don’t get a choice in the matter. Father’s day, my children and I will celebrate just as we did on Mother’s Day. I will say to those men that step up and do what they know they have to do for their children; I applaud you on your efforts and on being there for your children. I know as women, we are not easy to get along with and emotions run high. Thank you for being a man and taking care of your responsibilities completely. Happy Father’s Day to all of the true father’s and Happy Father’s Day to the Mother’s like me.