As a single mother one of the days that tend to be difficult is Father’s Day. For our household Father’s Day means different things to everyone. For my daughter, she gets to go off with her dad and spend the day with him while he has a barbeque or they all go out to dinner. She gives him the home made gift that she spent a week or two planning, changing her mind, then changing it back again before finally settling on an idea. She loves the idea of being able to give her father something special that she created herself. He’ll ooh and ahh over it appropriately (hopefully) and she will feel very happy and special inside knowing that her father loves her.
For me Father’s Day is a day where I call my dad and let him know how much I love him and what he has meant to me over the years. My dad has always been the standard that I hold a father to. As a single father for many years he showed me what it meant to put your child first. To do whatever was needed to make sure they have what they need. He was the one who stood by me no matter what and made sure that I knew, always, that I was loved.
Now as a single mother, when Father’s Day rolls around I am the one at the grill cooking up hamburgers and hot dogs (if we decide to cook out). But instead of my boys going off with their father, they tell me happy Father’s Day because for my boys Father’s Day is a whole lot different than it is for their sister.
For my boys, Father’s Day is a reminder that their father isn’t here
For my boys, Father’s Day is a reminder that their father isn’t here. It’s a reminder of the person who forever altered their lives. It’s a reminder of the person who hurt them and brings back full force WHY their father isn’t in their lives. Not that they need a reminder, we live with the repercussions of his actions every day. But Father’s Day sort of slaps them in the face with it.
15 years ago my son’s father shook him and almost killed him. In fact, he did die – for a minute – until he was resuscitated. At 5 months old my son’s life was forever changed by a man who should have been protecting him, instead he put him in the hospital. Every day we are faced with the challenges that my son’s injuries cause him. Every day we are reminded that he doesn’t have a “normal” life. His brain doesn’t work like everyone else’s. Every day we work through it and learn and grow.
Every day we are faced with the probability that he will remain a child forever.
So when Father’s Day rolls around it’s almost like an open wound that we rip the band-aid off of again. My boys’ father isn’t here, – isn’t allowed to be here. Their father caused them a lot of pain. Their father hasn’t been in their lives since they were 6 months old yet still his actions are always in our minds.
Sometimes one of the boys will ask about him:
What was he like? – (Hard question that one. For a long time while they were little I danced around that answer, but now that they are older they know the truth.) He was an alcoholic and a drug addict baby. He didn’t work really and he just lived to have fun.
Why were you with him then? – Because mommy had horrible taste in men for quite a long time honey and I thought if I tried hard enough I could change him. (Like I said, they are old enough to know the truth)
What did he look like? – Look in the mirror baby, he looked a lot like you.
Why did he hurt me? – I can’t answer that because I honestly don’t know honey. I have never been able to understand it. I wish I could answer that and I wish I could take away that pain.
There have been other questions over the years, some I could answer but many I could not. I remember once when my son told one of his teachers that his father was dead. My heart broke even more for him. Feeling like he would rather say he was dead than tell people the truth.
“Baby, you can’t tell people he’s dead. You have a father, he’s out there – he just wasn’t a very good father and I’m sorry for that.”
It’s been devastating sometimes watching my boys process over the years all of the emotions that come along with what their father did. I’ve tried to be there for them, get them any help they need if they need it. I’ve tried to soften the blow for them to hopefully make it easier.
More than anything though I never wanted them to feel like they were missing out on anything because he wasn’t in their lives. I never wanted them to feel like it was bad that they didn’t have their father around. And when Father’s Day started to become a trigger for them I decided that we would change it up for them. Father’s Day became M.A.M.A.S. Day – Me And My Awesome Sons Day.
So when their sister heads off to go spend time with her father, we plan a day for just us. A day where we do whatever they would like to do (within reason and budget permitting of course). I want them to realize that it’s just another day and like any day it is whatever you make of it. So we decided to make it our own. Father’s Day took on a new and different meaning for us. It is no longer a day where my boys sit back and think about what they don’t have – instead we celebrate what we do have. Each other – and that is enough.