Being a Single Mom on Father’s Day

Father’s Day for the last eight years has been a bit of a double-edged sword for me. I lost my own father in 2010, and if I’m being honest, it’s still something I struggle with every single day. God, do I miss him. I just really, really miss him. My husband and I welcomed our first child together that same year, so I immediately went from grieving daughter to doting mother. The first Father’s Day after my dad died and my daughter was born, I threw myself into making it amazing. Since I couldn’t celebrate my own dad, I would make sure my husband’s first holiday as a dad was perfect. I love little holidays like this, and it brought me joy to make them special.

Almost two years ago, everything changed. My marriage ended, under less than ideal circumstances. My ex went from dad who was there all the time to weekend dad who was living his new life. I went from working mom of two with some help, to single mom of two with no help and like, four more jobs to make ends meet. It was an incredibly rough transition, and I still have days when it feels next to impossible. But I never wanted my girls to feel like they lost something, so I worked to make this new normal feel normal. And going on nearly two years since it all went to shit, it does feel sort of normal. My girls love their dad. I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that he loves them. While he works through his mess, he’s gotten better at being their dad.

But that doesn’t mean that Father’s Day doesn’t stir up a lot of feelings in me. And not all of them pleasant.

It’s hard to want to celebrate someone for being an awesome dad when you’re mom AND dad 99% of the time. It’s hard to make it a big deal with gifts and fun activities when you’re physically and mentally exhausted from full-time parenthood. And to be honest, really honest, it’s so hard to watch your kids fawn over their dad on Father’s Day, knowing goddamn well they got shortchanged in a major way. I’m really good at putting my feelings aside for the sake of my kids. But on THIS day, it is so, so hard.

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I find myself thinking about all the kids whose dads are there, everyday. Often I wonder how they’re celebrating their fathers. I browse the cards at Target, the ones that say things like “Thank you, Dad, for fixing everything!”. Or, “My Dad Makes the Best Pancakes!”. I saw one the other day that said something like, “I Love You for Giving the Best Goodnight Hugs!”. And it kills me a little. Because you know who fixes everything around here? Me. From the water heater to the AC, I handle my shit. Guess who makes the Sunday morning pancakes? Not their dad. I’m sure he really would give the best goodnight hugs, if only he were here every night to give them. But he’s not. I am.

My girls are incredibly lucky, in that they have a mom and a dad who love them beyond measure. But on Father’s Day, when we celebrate the amazing dads in our life, the sentiment rings a little hollow for me.

That being said, hell yes we will celebrate Father’s Day this year. Just like we celebrate it every year! I may struggle with some of my feelings about this whole mess, but I am resolute in my pettiness. My girls will shower their dad with gifts and homemade cards. We will spend the day as a family, and you know what? We will have a really good time. At some point, we have to just put the shit behind us and move forward. So that’s what I’ve done and will continue trying to do. Will I be successful at it all of the time? Nope. But will I do everything in my power to make our situation the best it can be for our kids? For every single day of my life, yes.

To all my single mama sisters on Father’s Day, I see you. I feel you. And I know what that day is like for you. If your kids’ dad is in the picture and you can put aside differences to make their day special, just know I’m proud of you. If he’s in the wind and you’re on your own that day, just know that I am sending you love. Find something you enjoy and do it that day. Celebrate YOURSELF because you deserve it on Father’s Day and all of the days. Families come in all shapes and sizes, and mamas wear all the hats sometimes. You deserve to pat yourself on the back for balancing them so well.

If you’re a single mom this Father’s Day, however you choose to spend the day, just know that you’re not alone. This isn’t easy, I don’t know if it’ll ever get easy, but we do it because this is what we do. Continue to be your kick-ass self, and maybe buy yourself something nice that day. You deserve it. We all deserve it.

(Image: iStock / monkeybusinessimages)

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