Recently there’s been a fiery discussion on social media about single moms who celebrate Father’s Day. In other words, in addition to being celebrated by their children on Mother’s Day they also are celebrated for Father’s Day because they have had to do all the roles of the missing father. As is the case for most discussions on Facebook a vocal few think it’s horrible while the rest of us don’t care one way or another. If a mom, single or not, wants to take credit on Father’s Day I have no problem with it.
This week the morning talk shows are filled with touching stories about dads and their kids. If you’re a dad who has been an active participant in the raising of your children you deserve a medal. The dads when I was growing up weren’t around for much, instead they were at work while mom was home with the kids. They may have spent weekends tossing the ball around or teaching a child how to drive (or whatever dad’s do) but that wasn’t really my experience.
Don’t get me wrong I love my dad, but he wasn’t a very good father. He never taught me how to change a tire or fix a leaky faucet. He never tried to intimidate any potential suitors (though he commented on how cute they were on many occasions). He never threw a ball for me or my brother, though he probably would have taken us to the opera if we had been interested.
My dad was gone for most of my childhood. He was either at work or at the bar trying to avoid coming home to take care of my mother who needed round the clock care due to anoxia when she had cardiac arrest brought on by an emergency tracheotomy to help her breath when her lungs became so filled with fluid from pneumonia. My mom had no short term memory, could not walk unassisted and had very poor judgment and reasoning skills. She also suffered from bipolar disorder but that was a pre – existing condition.
I got a little off track here.
As a single mom I do all the dad things, even the dad things I didn’t experience as a child. I toss a ball around with my kids. Last weekend the daughter and I replaced a leaky faucet in the kitchen. Both of us were winging it and when it actually worked and no one got electrocuted from the really bad disposal install that had to be worked around the high fives were extreme. I am the one who chased away the monsters, I am the one who cuts the grass and attempts to fix all the broken things around the house. I suck at both but I still try to do them. I am the one who puts my foot down and I am the one who puts the worm on the hook and takes the fish off of it.
My dad did his best to help out. He adored his grandchildren and was a much better grandfather than he was a father. He spent time with my son – just being there for him, and that was so important to his development. He never tossed a ball around with my son but he discussed big ideas with him and listened to all the stories my son had. He gave him confidence and encouraged him to try even when the odds seemed against him. He stepped in and helped his best to fill a void caused by my divorce and for that he was a great dad to me. Sadly he died before my daughter got to know him. Luckily my daughter has an awesome brother who has stepped up like his grandpa did.
I don’t celebrate Father’s Day. Hell, we barely celebrate Mother’s Day. Not because I’m not an awesome mom, I am, but because I don’t need a special day and truth be told it’s just a lot more work for me to celebrate it.
But I don’t care if other single moms want to claim Father’s Day as their own. If you’re a single mom, even if your ex is around every other weekend and Wednesdays, you’re still doing the day to day dad stuff and that stuff is important.
It really does take a village. We don’t have villages anymore and sadly a few too many single moms. Single dads, too. We have too many broken families and not enough friends and families jumping in to fill the void left by the missing parent.
I guess my point is, instead of bitching about who should be allowed to claim credit for Father’s Day why not get in there and lend a hand. I’m sure any single mom would much prefer to have a friend or family member step up and lend a hand in the dad department than to have to claim it as her own.
I think I was (and am) a reasonably participative husband. When the kids were babies, we did both the feeding (they were bottle-fed, you’ll be relieved to hear) and the changing in turns every night (and during the day if we were both home).
The kids are teenagers now, but I still don’t get anything for Father’s Day unless I hint like crazy for about six weeks beforehand and slip them some money to get something from the store. I’m kind of torn, because I know Father’s Day is a pretty blatant attempt by card companies to drum up trade.
On the other hand, I like chocolate.