They trickled in at the start of the morning and continued throughout the evening. There were text messages with strings of heart emojis. Electronic cards with vibrant animation and songs. Tagged Facebook messages filled with blooming flowers and teddy bears. They were all sent with love from people who have bore witness to my journey as a single-mom. Along with the dads who are celebrated on Father’s Day, they wanted to acknowledge my independent parenting of my son for the past three years. They congratulated me for being one person doing the job of two. And as always, they showed me love and support.
I appreciate the sentiment behind every Father’s Day message that I received. But I need no special acknowledgment on that day. In fact, I prefer not to have it. Shout me out, celebrate me, tell me that I am doing a fantastic job as a single-mom on any other day. Just not that one.
It was never my desire to be a single-mom. It is a role assigned to most of us and not by design. I always knew that I would and could raise my son alone if ever I had to. But that was not the game plan. I sacrificed alot, even parts of my greatest self, for my dream of having a family that would include a mother, father, and child. All together, living happily ever after.
But that was not to be.
Like me, my son is a baby of divorce. There were bad choices to be corrected. Damage that needed to be controlled. And a new life to be made. What was best for us was to forge our way in the world alone, but whole.
So we did. And we are better for it.
By no means has it been easy. I have had to perform my fair share of fatherly duties over the years. Like wrapping weighted plastic grocery bags around each of my wrists as my son sat strapped to my chest in a baby Bjorn. Or cleaning snow off of my car as he squirmed impatiently in his seat. Or getting on my knees to build train sets and Lego structures. Or taking him for his first hair cut with a girlfriend who has a son of her own, and could show me the ropes. Or teaching him how to shoot his first hoop on an indoor basketball set despite my having an interest in sports that does not extend far beyond the last game of basketball play-offs season.
And there will be more times like these. For as long as necessary, I will continue to step into shoes not created or intended for me. Not as a father, or a father-figure, or a woman fulfilling a dual role.
I will do it as his mother with a heart full of love and the greatest desire to make the best of a situation in which he did not ask to be or deserves, but just is.