I hate to admit this and hate even more to say it, but Father’s Day sucks when you are a mom to children who are fatherless.
My children are fatherless because their father has made some very poor choices. He has a pattern of abusing the women in his life and is serving a 10 year sentence for his crimes. He hasn’t played a role in our children’s lives and Father’s Day is a little hard for my girls.
I have determined every year to make the best of Father’s Day and after 10 years, I have come up with a few ways to successfully survive Father’s Day, for me and my children.
Celebrate the dads and father figures in your lives!
My dad has played a big role in my girls’ lives. For the past 4 years he has taken them to school almost every morning because of my work schedule. I have been VERY blessed because I have been able to drop my kids off at my parent’s house so I could be to work early. They eat breakfast with my parents and then go to school. This normal, everyday, very routine activity has given my girls’ a glimpse at a two parent household. My dad gets ready for work, eats, and takes my kids to school. Nothing fancy. Just a normal everyday interaction. My girls also go to my parent’s house after-school for a little over an hour each day. On Wednesdays, my dad is off and they get to spend a little more time with him on those days, but again usually doing very routine, normal things like go to Costco. This interaction with my dad has moved him beyond just being their grandpa, he has become a father figure to them.
My kids celebrate my dad on Father’s Day. We focus on who they do have in their lives and now that they are a little older – they get it. Yesterday my oldest daughter wrote “thank you for being a father figure to me” in my dad’s card. She is 12, I have never talked to her about my dad being “a father figure” to her. But she gets it. My 11 year old thanked him for “taking us to school and putting up with us”. She get’s it. He plays a bigger role than just that of “grandpa”.
Acknowledge that you have to roles to play.
Everyone’s single motherhood looks different. Some separated parents still work as a team, or try to at least. Some kids spend some time with dad and some time with mom – so they have an active father in their lives. Some dad’s have passed away. Some dad’s – for whatever reason – haven’t been involved in their children’s lives.
For me, I have had to play the role of mother and father. I am in mother mode about 95%. I am a comforter, a peacemaker, a caretaker, a cheerleader, and overall a big softy. My “father” side has to be strong and steadfast, a provider, protector, bread winner, disciplinarian, firmer – not how I typically want to act or respond, but my children need it. I know that there will be tons of people who disagree with me, but my nature is nurture. I think that most moms are that way and dads typically aren’t. But nurture is only a portion of what my kids need, they need so much more.
There is a joke between me and my mother that I am the mom to my girls and she is the dad. I pull her in when I need back up, she is tougher and more experienced than I am. When we REALLY need back-up, we pull my dad in. We all need back-up when it comes to raising kids, some families have the dad available, and others don’t. I would encourage you to find someone you can pull in when you need back up. But the fact remains, for some moms – we have to roles to fill. We can try, but we can’t ever truly fulfill the dad sized shoes that are missing in our kids life.
I reflect on this every Father’s Day. I acknowledge the difficulty in the task of being both mom and dad – and sometimes I even do something special for myself. I also pray for my children’s dad. I pray for his salvation, his protection, and that he would be restored. It can be challenging to pray for someone who has hurt you, but with practice – it gets easier.
Do something special with your kids.
Be sensitive to the fact that Father’s Day can be difficult for your children. Do something fun with them. Go to a movie, get fast food and eat at a park, have an adventure! I know a single mom who takes a weekend trip with her daughter every Father’s Day weekend. They don’t do anything super fancy, they just get in the car and go somewhere new. Make Father’s Day weekend special in your own way. Celebrate the dads and father figures in your life, reflect on the roles you play, pray, and enjoy your kids.