It’s Sunday, I’m single, and it’s Father’s Day.
Being single, one of the things I miss the most about family life is seeing my kids with their dad. My son, who turned eleven yesterday, was born on the Saturday before Father’s Day, and I recall that Sunday in the hospital vividly. Less than 24 hours postpartum, I was a mess -physically exhausted and emotionally shell-shocked. He was calm, he counted wet and poopy diapers, he cuddled that baby boy who spent no time in the hospital nursery thanks to his loving respect for my maternal wishes. Once I’d recovered, I swooped in with confidence and became “mom” – the only one who could feed, clothe, change, or calm. But for that one day, Father’s Day 2003, he was the competent one.
Like most men I know, including my own dad, my kids’ father was and is a deeply emotional man who didn’t always know how to express those deep emotions. It spilled out in fits of silliness. Occasionally there were moments of tenderness in a touch or a look. There was awkward affection, and repressed anger. Being young and female, I thought there was something wrong with all of that. But once our son, and later our first daughter, came into the family, they opened up the tap on his emotions. A father playing with his children demonstrates an intimacy he can’t always achieve with his spouse, no matter how much he may genuinely love her.
When I see a man loving his child in his own way, I see his true nature. Even when he struggles with losing his cool or being able to connect, the fact that he tries is beautiful. It is a privilege to witness.
I’ve got a lot of dads in my life. Some have been like fathers to me, guiding me, chiding me, cheering me. Others have been partners in love, partners in friendship, and partners in single parenthood as they’ve shared their experiences, and have walked with me through mine.
I truly believe that God did not intend for anyone to do parenting on their own. It takes a father. Not just as a loving role model for the kids, but as a nurturer of their mom. I will always believe that marriage is the ideal environment for this kind of nurturing. But being single on Sunday, I don’t have the ideal, so I sure am glad God has brought so many beautiful and diverse dads into my life. You all are amazing and humbling, and you make me a better mom just by allowing me to witness your being the best dad you can be.
It’s Sunday and I’m a single mom, loving all the single and married daddies who love their babies. Who make the sacrifices. Who make the best of a less than ideal hand. Who show me what love looks like.