Happy Fathers Day to Single Moms!! Yes, I said it.
Fathers day for single moms is awkward. No matter where you lie on the spectrum of single motherhood, it’s a weird holiday penetrated by repressed emotions like resentment and guilt, blended with gratitude and love into a green smoothie from a hippie juice bar. You know, the sugar-free kind that sits at room temp with floating pieces of parsley. But hey, once you get past a bit of chewing, you feel accomplished for guzzling it down in the name of “wellness.”
But as long as no one is undermining the role of dad (or lack thereof), what is so wrong with acknowledging the mother that fills the shoes of a father?
Watch how these adults get emotional thanking their single moms on Father’s Day. Grab the tissues for this, mamas.
I get the “single-mom-is-NOT-a-dad” sentiment (see this post). Why are so many offended by the “Happy Father’s Day to Single Mothers” Hallmark cards and “Happy Fathers Day Mom” video?
I vividly recall my first single mom fathers day. I had a tense co-parenting relationship back then. Albeit, it’s still not exactly fluffy kittens cuddling with sleeping babies holding puppies. It was constant nonsensical arguing via text, screaming on the phone, and plenty of family court visits. The energy was contaminated. We lived in dark clouds of anger with explosive bolts of deep resentment — hatred even.
The day before Father’s Day, I get a text from him requesting to see our daughter the next day. We hadn’t discussed it and had no prior agreement or arrangement for holidays.
It was short notice and would be disruptive to our plans. Of course, I would be responsible for pick and drop off. AND he didn’t even ask nicely.
You can imagine the tunnel vision response when I read this message:
“Don’t keep me from seeing my daughter on Father’s Day. Don’t be weird.”
Oh man, ladies. It took some serious work to set our differences aside, to be the bigger person and do the right thing. She wouldn’t even remember the day, of course. But by accommodating the visit, it acknowledged his role as the father. Whether it was positive or negative is beside the point.
The rest of the day I spent with my family, including my aunt who is also a single mom. We celebrated the fathers, father-figures, and the single moms.
It was a lovely tribute to the tremendous impact all loved ones have on children.
Though I chose to celebrate both mom and dad, it doesn’t sit well with those who believe that a mother is not a father and can never take the place of a father.
Why does “Fathers Day for Mom” get so much hate?
Let’s get some things straight:
Saying happy father’s day to single mothers doesn’t undermine the damage that can be done by an absent father or an uninvolved father.
It doesn’t undercut the role a father plays in a child’s life.
It doesn’t mean they are forgetting dad.
It doesn’t mean fathers are replaceable.
It doesn’t imply mothers are not involving the kid’s father.
It doesn’t imply mothers are not validating a child’s curiosity or sadness about an uninvolved father.
Fathers day for single moms is validation and recognition for the moms who assume the role of dad, too.
The mom that chooses to celebrate herself wants to be seen. To feel loved and to feel validated is a human need.
Take it from Vivyan, an Unbreakable Single mom in our support group.
“Looking at how single moms perform the jobs of two parents with only two hands, two legs, two pair of eyes…I think it is only fair to celebrate. Not to take away the shine of good daddies, but to appreciate and encourage single mommies. It’s not an easy job!”
The single mom on father’s day is seeking validation that single motherhood is hard as hell, whether or not there is another parent involved.
She is the mom that is teaching her son to pee standing up or how to talk to girls. She is showing her daughter what it means to demand respect from men and how to build a relationship on love and trust. She is teaching her children how to be assertive yet allowing, intuitive yet logical, tender yet confident, nurturing yet strong.
She taps into both her masculine and feminine energies at will, revealing the secret power of her own mind and spirit. (This is what makes her Unbreakable.)
This mom is saying, ”Please acknowledge me. Please understand me. Please see me.”
Another solo mom, Nikki, says,
“It’s not taking anything away from good dads, it’s giving the mom playing both roles a little encouragement — we see you too!”
And for the child, family members, or friends who desire to celebrate the single mom, they also want to be heard. They are coming from a place of gratitude. They want to show their appreciation and are telling us, “Please care about what I’m saying.”
To ignore them is to dismiss their feelings about you, undermining how they choose to give Father’s Day meaning.
Here’s my take on holidays in general: IT’S A DAY. There are many days in life. About 30,000 in a lifetime, in fact.
Only YOU decide what meaning you want to give each of those days.
If you want to give Father’s Day meaning by celebrating moms who take on the role of dad, that is your prerogative to do so.
Take inspiration from an Unbreakable Mom, Chantalle Dubord. Chantalle is a single mother who lost her father when she was 5 years old (watch the interview here).
“One thing that I love especially is Father’s Day. I love going and doing things with my son or teaching him things that my dad would have loved to have taught him. So I take him golfing every Father’s Day or I’ll take him camping. I’ll totally learn something new! I didn’t know how to dig a trench and put up a tent by myself. But now I do and yes, it’s honestly the opportunity to be someone in my son’s eyes who will totally take on new stuff — the opportunity to face your fears.”
What To Do As A Single Mom on Father’s Day:
- Celebrate whoever the hell you want. You, your mom, dad, uncle, grandpa, neighbor, moms, aunts who play a positive role in your child’s life. If you want to use Father’s Day to say thank you, by all means do it.
- Ask how your kids want to celebrate, if at all. Have the discussion NOW. Honor how they choose to celebrate it and for who.
- Honor the positive male role models and ACTUAL father and how they wish to celebrate.
What NOT to do this Father’s Day as a single mom
Can you remember a time when you gave someone a genuine compliment, only to be shut down? Don’t be that person that dismisses someone acknowledging you.
One of our moms, Kimberly, accepts when her children want to celebrate her on father’s day.
“My kids always gave me something for Father’s Day and told me I am the mom and dad so I deserve 2 days. I really think if the kids feel you deserve it then you do. I told them I am not their dad but they always said yes you are.”
While it’s ok to celebrate others, it’s important not to defame either.
“I feel as a society we are so quick to diminish men. In diminishing those men that are bad we allow those men that are great to be diminished as well. I feel like let the men have their day. Those good ones definitely deserve it. We should celebrate them like they celebrate us on Mother’s day,” says Lisa, another mom in our support group.
To make it crystal clear, here is a checklist:
What NOT to do this Father’s Day:
- Devalue the role of a father or male role model
- Speak poorly about dad (ever)
- Dismiss a child’s curiosity, sadness, or any emotion (positive or negative) about their father
- Exclude your children’s desire to celebrate dad AND/OR mom
- Exclude your child from celebrating the day period
- Don’t force it. Whatever “it” is that you decide. Be malleable, not rigid.
But is it really that easy?
That depends. American society has already assigned a meaning to this day. Also, we tend to get offended by everything these days. To give it a different meaning than the current societal norm may be a challenge.
You may meet resistance. For school-aged kids, for instance, the societal pressures are glaring.
But honor yourself and your family by speaking your truth, owning the day (and every day, actually) with whatever meaning you choose to give it.
Here is a beautiful story published on ScaryMommy.com about how this single mother by choice celebrates the day:
“I have “the talk” with Eddie’s teacher, as they change from year to year. There will be class projects, see. The kids will make something special to take home to dad. Dads are invited to join the kids at school for a morning breakfast. I’ll explain to his teacher that I’ll be attending that breakfast, thank-you-very-much, and that perhaps my son can make his craft projects for his grandpa or his uncle or for me.”
If you’re going against the grain, be sure to:
- Talk with your kids and other family members
- Talk with teachers
- Talk with the other dad or male role models
Moms are underrecognized. And yes, so are dads. Any excuse to celebrate yourself and validate the enormous job ALL parents do, I say use it.
If your child is saying Happy Father’s Day Mom, they are saying THANK YOU for playing such a massive role in their life.
If you disagree, no worries! Don’t accept the “Happy Father’s Day” as recognition for being a total badass. Recognize that the intent comes from a place of love, say “thank you,” and move on with your 1 of 30,000 days.
Just remember, you assign meaning however you choose. I hope collectively, as women, mothers, and parents, we can choose to celebrate what we truly are — Unbreakable — every single day.
What are your thoughts? Let’s have a healthy debate in the comments below!Click to join our inspirational support group