Every year as Father’s Day approaches, I begin to get that uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. It is an awkward time for me as single mother. Being that my son’s father has never been a part of his life, I attend both the Mother’s Day and Father’s Day events given at his daycare / preschool. Even though my son has never blinked an eye or questioned why I was the only mom in the room at the Father’s Day events, I have always felt somewhat uncomfortable. However, this year was different, the feeling was bigger, and riddled with anxiety as the Father’s Day Lunch at the Preschool approached.
My baby is now 4 years old and has begun to take notice and talk about not having a father in his life. The first time it came up, he came to me and said, “I don’t have a dad, I only have a mom.” That threw me off and broke my heart just a little bit. I took that opportunity to have a dialog around his statement, but….because his response seemed so ‘matter of fact’, I chose to not discuss it much further. I try to make our situation seem “normal” in hopes to make him feel as though he has not missed out on anything that will affect him emotionally later in life.
On several occasions, now that he has become more aware, he has stated that he wants a dad. He tells me that he is not sad that he does not have one, but yet he still wants one so he can have both a mommy and a daddy. It’s that simple…sort of.
As the talks get more frequent and more detailed, I get more confused on how to handle this. As a seasoned mental health provider I truly believed that I could handle this with no problem. I help hundreds of families solve so many different kinds of issues every day. I had all my answers planned out.
Now that reality smacks me in the face……………………I’m completely clueless.
Being the only parent automatically puts me in the position to cover both roles to be both mom and dad. But the fact remains that no matter how hard I try or how well I do raising my son, I am reminded from time to time that I can never replace a real dad.
My son does not have a lot of steady male figures in his life that would be able to take on the responsibility of being a role model / mentor for him full time. So getting him involved in sports and other activities has been the avenue that I have chosen to take for now. However, I am aware that this is not the perfect antidote, it is only a band-aid and as he gets older, his questions will continue and will require more detailed information.
In the meantime, I will continue doing all I can for him and be both mom and dad for him as best as I can. As he gets older and grows to understand the world around him, my heart will ache for him because he may never know how it feels to experience what it is like to have a father (his father) on Father’s Day.