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Father's Day 2011: Who Stands In At The Dad Party At School?

When I picked JD up from school yesterday I cleaned out my parent mailbox that was stuffed (red face) with art, the June calendar, a birthday party thank you card from JD’s friend, the June tuition bill (hi!)—and an invitation for JD’s dad to attend, “Fun With Father’s!” It’s Friday, June 17th at 9:30 A.M. at the school and is the equivalent of Muffins with Mom, which was held last month to celebrate Mother’s Day—I attended with bells on a cute dress on, of course.

The invite states to RSVP by Monday, June 13th and it also says if Dad can’t attend another special man in the child’s life is welcome to join. I don’t know if I’m the only single mom (sans any participation from "Dad") at JD’s school, I doubt it, in fact. I know grandfathers, uncles and other dudes will be at this party. In fact, some kids with dads in the house will be eating donuts alone.

My brother, Brian, attended the Father’s Day party last year. There were yummy donuts, an art project and outside play-time. Bri had a blast and he wants to go again this year. So does my Dad. So does my other brother, Carlo. Heck, so do I! I’m JD’s mom and dad. So, there is no shortage of people to go in his biological father’s place, but this year, I am a bit, I don’t know, bothered, sad, mad, confused, frustrated—even entertained (smirk! sorrrrrrrrry) It's just that JD is older and wiser -- and has boundless curiosity about...everything.

The thing is, JD’s dad isn’t a bad person. He’s not in jail. He doesn’t do drugs. He’s not unemployed, sleeping on someone’s couch. He is not incapable of being a father. He’s married and will be celebrating his first Father’s Day with his other son this year. He's a dad! He changes diapers! This mere fact, that one son gets him, but the other doesn’t, is what burns/makes me laugh out loud/makes me cringe.  JD is old enough to know his Dad lives far away and some kids live just with mom. I don’t think JD is missing anything right now, honestly. His cognitive development can’t completely grasp the reality that his dad doesn’t care to come around, but I do grasp this—and even though I do my best and JD appears happy and healthy, this stings me sometimes—not all the time. But, reading the invite after working all day? Yeah, my stomach dropped. My ex’s face flashed before my eyes, clear as day. I was back in NYC for a minute, 26-years-young—then, BAM, I was in a classroom and JD was running into my arms. We were home. I was heating up leftovers while JD played blocks. We were playing soccer outside, just us 2. Then it was bath-time and books came next. Good night, sweet love. I love you. Best friends. "Best friends too, Mommy!" I wrote out the bills in a dim kitchen. I worked at my desk. I thought about folding laundry. I drank lemonade. Life goes on. But you don't forget. It's not being stuck, or bitter -- it's being human.

The Father’s Day party at JD’s school will come and go. My family will celebrate Father’s Day at the beach (yeah!) and then have a big Italian meal (yeah!). This year will be like the past 4 and we will survive it. And JD's father will think of him, because he is human. Because he has two sons. Two.

Me? I’ll re-read the review my book Rattled! got in The New York Times on Father’s Day 2009 (cute, right? Single mom’s book reviewed on Father’s Day) and I’ll give JD extra squeezes…And I'll squeeze my dad and bros, too -- awesome men.

Single moms, who’s stepping in for your child at the Father’s Day party? Please share.

You might also like Single Parenting Advice and Single Parenting Advice: A Primer for Solo Moms and Dads

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