Father's Day & Single Motherhood
June 17, 2010
My editor here at parenting.com emailed me to ask how I feel about Father’s Day. Hmmm. She wrote: “Do you have a different way of celebrating? Do you ignore it? Is it a day that makes you sad or pissed?” As a single mom raising JD alone (his father has never met him) these are very good questions. Questions I just as soon not tackle and instead throw back a Bloody Mary on Sunday and then spend time with JD, family and friends. But here goes…
Father’s Day is a day that is overflowing with emotions. It’s a happy day. Friends and family wish me a “Happy Father’s Day” and JD makes me a card and gives me flowers. I’m his mom and dad and like the tagline for Mama’s Boy reads, I can throw a baseball, so there. I can teach my son to catch a football and be enthusiastic when we go on bug hunts (even though I hate bugs.) I can play cars and build a car wash out of blocks every night. I try to be his mom and dad, I really do. Gender roles are silly to me, really. I’m doing everything and we’re surviving. Along the almost three years, I’ve learned that I give JD something better than a soccer session in the courtyard—I give him love. I give him my time. I make him my priority. Everything I do, I do for my child. It’s also a happy day because I have a great relationship with my father and so does JD—of course we celebrate. This year we’ll play at the park, swim and go out to dinner. I can’t wait.
Father’s Day is frustrating, sad and makes me feel angry, but really these feelings are fleeting—I can honestly say it’s hard to examine them because I have no time—we’re off to the park, it’s time to make lunch, sit on the potty, sit on the potty, sit on the potty, sit on the potty, read a book (read 10), identify letters on the fridge—and frankly, what can I do? I mean, really! I’ve stripped myself of my stubborn pride and asked his father on several occasions over the years to come to NJ and I’ve invited his wife and family too (this was hard. I did it for JD). Nothing. I understand on a level what his father is feeling. For him, JD and I are almost a dream. He left New York City when I was eleven-weeks-pregnant after we decided to keep our baby. He moved back to Indiana and got back together with his ex-girlfriend immediately. Before JD turned one he was engaged and the cheeky wedding and Buy-Us-A-Honeymoon to Italy websites were launched—BAM. He told me he wasn’t ready for fatherhood and marriage and forever. He has a new a home, new wife, new baby, new job. NEW LIFE and all of these changes I believe mask the reality. Me? My life changed too—to accommodate our son that I care for alone. I love it! What an adventure! It's easy, it's hard, it's thrilling, it's lonely, it's the best! But, still, the hardest part about Father’s Day is knowing that nothing I do or say, will change anything. I have no control over the man that left. Sometimes I am OK with this, but then I see JD, kneeling down to the ground, his nose kissing the dirt as he examines an ant creep by, then says "ant go eat grrr-willed cheese with mommy ant--it's so yummy." Sweet, sweet innocence.
Father’s Day is full of pride. Overflowing, really! One year on Father’s Day I woke up to an email from my literary agent, Brettne (OK, I woke up to JD who wanted "milky"). “You made The New York Times. It’s good!” Can you believe my memoir Rattled! (Broadway Books, 2009) was reviewed, favorably reviewed on Father’s Day!? I mean, really? Was I being Punk’d? Ashton, is that you? I read the review with tears in my eyes—JD pushed a train back and forth on the arm of my chair. "A warm, frank, big-hearted book," I read over and over. The sun was out. This moment, this moment is mine and one I will tell JD about every, single Father’s Day. I’ll tell him that we don’t walk away from our responsibilities. That work is rewarded. That he can do anything, everything he puts his mind to.
Father’s Day reminds me what’s important. JD’s school has a “Donuts-with-Dad” party. They had a Mother’s Day Tea too. I attended, sipped my tea and made a butterfly with JD. It was a special day. Read about it here. My younger brother, Brian, 27, who JD affectionately calls “Big Bri” will attend this father’s day party. I’ve made it a priority to have awesome male role models around for JD, but really I don’t even have to ask—they are just there. In fact, after Brian attends the party, he’s coming to my condo because I need help assembling a new activity table for JD (I’m really bad with fixing and putting things together. I own a single screwdriver). He’ll probably take out the garbage too—because that’s just how he is. A good man—one JD can look up to.
Father’s Day, not just a Hallmark holiday for us. I would love to hear how other single moms plan to celebrate the day. Will dad come visit? Are you solo, like me? I also want to know what everyone is doing, so please tell me. One of my favorite parts of blogging is meeting new people and reading comments.