By Cedar Goslin
Fathers Day is here. It’s time for us all to become living embodiments of outdoor grill advertisements and cook up some burgers in the backyard, with a cooler full of beer nearby. It’s time to honor our fathers and thank them for being there… well, if they were there, that is. But what about the 24% of us who weren’t raised by our fathers? Whether they died, left, or never even knew we existed, some of us had fathers who just weren’t there. So what is Fathers Day to us?
Having grown up, for the most part, without the presence of a father figure, I’ll admit that I’ve spent my fair share of Fathers Days feeling sorry for myself… but now I see that to do so is to waste a perfectly lovely holiday. The point of Fathers Day is to honor that person who filled the role generally associated with a dad, but for some people that person is a step father or an uncle… and for some of us, that person is our mother. Should the fact that our paternal figure happens to be one in the same with our maternal figure prevent us from honoring her on Fathers Day? I think not.
Though a single mother is obviously a woman, she nonetheless fulfills the role of father. She talks to her sons about puberty and teaches them how to shave, and she scowls at the boys her daughters bring home, instilling as much crippling terror in them as any man could. She goes to sports games and recitals, offers advice on all matters from getting a date to dealing with a difficult teacher. She cries at weddings and gives her daughters away (not that I have any love for that tradition, but that’s another blog post entirely). The single mother teaches her sons and daughters to be strong and responsible, to respect themselves and demand respect from others. She teaches them to work hard. Really, unless you want her to pee standing up, there’s nothing more you could ask for from a mother before conceding that Fathers Day should be a day in her honor.
Really, what traits are we supposed to learn from our fathers? Courage? Strength? Work ethic? I can think of no one who displays these traits better than the single mother. It’s hard enough to fulfill the role of one parent, let alone to fulfill the role of two all by yourself. It’s a hefty challenge that thousands of single women tackle every day. I imagine it’s a lonely job, raising children without a partner with whom you can share the joys and mind-melting irritation, but they manage to pull through for the sake of their offspring. As for work ethic, who works harder than a single mom? To be sure, it’s hard work to support a family and to be in charge of raising one, but imagine doing both jobs all by yourself. Essentially, that’s working two full-time jobs, one of which you never get to clock out of. Sons and daughters of single moms, if you didn’t learn the importance of dedication to your job, whatever it may be, by watching your mom be both bread-winner and home maker then you weren’t paying enough attention.
There may be an appropriate time to mourn the lack of a male parent in one’s life, but if there is Fathers Day is not it. Because for many of us, growing up fatherless didn’t mean that we missed out on an important role model or life lessons, and we have our long-suffering, hard-working mothers to thank for that. I urge you to take Fathers Day as an opportunity to show those mothers the appreciation they deserve. Sure, there’s Mothers Day to honor them, but if they’re fulfilling both parenting roles shouldn’t they get both days of recognition? Besides, Fathers Day sales kick the crap out of the ones they have for Mothers Day. On Mothers Day you can get a bouquet of flowers for half off, but for Fathers Day they have rib steaks for two bucks a pound. Don’t make mom miss out on that. She deserves it.
So to all you single mothers out there, including and especially my own, thank you.
For teaching and guiding your children
For providing a safe and stable home
For being a role model to your daughters and sons
For thriving in a society that is unsympathetic to the struggles of a single parent
For your strength
Thank you and happy Fathers Day.