By Leslie Rakoczy
Father’s Day is a rather ‘grey’ area for me, especially this year. Having spent almost 6 years as a “fully” single mom, whose ex-husband left when our youngest daughter was 6 weeks old (she is now almost 10) and who was out of the country and otherwise unavailable for most of the year, this was a no-brainer.
I remarried in 2011 and my girls were more than happy to have my new husband attend their ‘father’s day’ festivities at school, and bestow him with gifts and cards.
Present day: Currently separated from husband number 2. Ex-husband number 1 (who lives 6 hours away) will likely be occupied with his stepson and unable to see his daughters.
So where does that put Father’s Day on our list this year?
Aside from my glaringly horrific track record at choosing life-partners, I am not, nor do I replace my daughter’s father, no matter how absent or uninvolved he may be. I do not need (or deserve) ‘Father’s Day’ wishes, cards or gifts. While I have always considered myself a single parent, (even when I was married for the second time) I rarely put ANY parenting responsibility on my spouse, other than the odd pick up or drop-off duty. It (generally) takes two people to create these breathtakingly beautiful miracles we call our children. For that reason alone, dads deserve a bit of credit.
My eldest daughter will likely try to let the day pass with no mention, and when I remind her to call her father to wish him a Happy Father’s Day, she will undoubtedly utter some sarcastic, 14-year-old comment under her breath, and then begrudgingly call, mumble a few words and hand the phone to her sister. My little one will talk to her dad, be slightly more enthusiastic with her wishes, and hang up asking me how it can be fair that her ‘stepbrother’ gets to spend Father’s Day with HER dad. That’s always a tough one to answer.
Over the years, I have learned that the art of distraction is invaluable on days like these. Emotions will wane; tempers and sadness will likely run high, especially this year when they are missing their step-dad as well. While we won’t ‘celebrate’ Father’s Day, we won’t entirely ignore it either. We will do the things that our little nuclei enjoy. Maybe take in a good ‘girl’ movie with extra butter on our popcorn, go for a bike ride (to work off the butter!) and make our favorite dinner (interspersed with laundry, lawns, and cleaning of course) with a special dessert.
To the fathers that choose to be unavailable or perhaps only partially involved and connected to their kids, we thank you for the gift of those amazing creatures.
To all of the present and involved fathers or father figures, hats off to you, you deserve to enjoy this special day.
(And to the moms who do double duty, day in and day out, week after week: You ROCK!)