One of the most defining moments in my life was the day that I became a mother to my son. It was a new, exciting, and terrifying role to add to my repertoire- I was a daughter, a sister, a college student, a friend, a girlfriend, and now a mother.
From the moment I found out I was pregnant, my life was different. I was 19, a sophomore in college, and going through struggles with my son’s father and boyfriend that I would never wish on anyone (this of course, is a rabbit hole I will not subject you to at this time). Fast forward and I am now 26, and that beautiful baby boy in the picture is now 6 years old. I am no longer with my son’s father and our situation is extremely complicated for a lot of reasons. He is not a part of our lives’ anymore and the future of this is still up in the air.
Today, being Father’s Day, makes me sad for a lot of reasons. My son has not had a relationship with his father for a couple of years now, and is starting to realize this. It was so much easier when we split up. He was only 2 years old and had no real understanding of what was happening. Now he is much more insightful, a fact that can be both wonderful and frustrating, depending on what we are talking about. He has questions now that do not have easy answers, and I am torn between telling him the truth and trying to protect him from information that could be devastating. I know I am not the only parent that faces situations like these. The amount of single mothers and fathers that are trying to navigate the waters of parenting without a partner is staggering nowadays. I hope that by putting this out there that someone can relate and be comforted by at least one simple fact- you are not alone in your struggles.
When I pictured myself having children, I had thought I would have the fairy tale wedding followed by planning when to start a family. I thought that I would be able to announce my pregnancy in some cute way and that everyone would be happy and excited. The truth is, my experience has been far from this thus far. Even when I found out I was pregnant at 19 and had to go through the perils of breaking the news to my family, figure out how I was going to finish school not to mention how we were going to support a child when we could barely take care of ourselves, I still had hope that we were going to be able to pull it together and give our child a good life with both parents and a stable environment. Father’s day would be helping my child make or pick out a gift, having cook outs, and celebrating the man, father, and partner that their dad was. This did not happen.
Every year I see all of the posts from those that praise single mothers on Father’s Day because they are pulling “double duty”. I then see the retaliating posts from fathers who are indignant that someone is infringing on their territory by celebrating mothers on a day designated for fathers. I always keep my thoughts to my self- but the truth is that I can truly understand both sides of this issue. There are fathers out there that are stepping up to the plate and taking care of their children, some still in committed relationships with the mothers and some that are not. They deserve to praised and recognized for the work that they do and the impact that they have. Then, there are men that have run away from their responsibilities, making life extremely difficult for the mothers and children they are leaving behind. Some of these even have the nerve to play the victim and blame the mother for not having a relationship with and supporting their child (I will not deny that some women do make this difficult, but please don’t lump all of us into that category). While I am not one that wants to be wished a happy father’s day because I am definitely NOT a father, there is something to be said for parents doing their best to fill both roles, both mothers and fathers. Again- you are not alone and we know you are doing the best you can. Pat yourself on the back and cut yourself some slack when some things fall through the cracks.
One thing I do ask of anyone who has stuck with me this far (sorry I am a bit long-winded today), is that you try to withhold judgment of situations that you are not in and do not completely understand. Each family situation is unique and the only people who truly know what’s happening are those in that family. I am going to withhold a verdict on whether or not single mothers should be praised on this day (I know the suspense is killing you). I will say that there are comments made on both sides of the argument that are uncalled for. Not all single dads out there are deadbeats and not all single moms are where they are because they are idiots or sluts when it comes to men. Father’s day should not be a controversial one. Celebrate the men in your lives and don’t let them be overshadowed by arguments over whether or not some deserve it.