High Days and Holidays
Life as a lone parent can often bob along without you really noticing that you are not in a partnership and that your child/ren don’t have a relationship with their other parent; but, BUT there are some days of the year where it really does come crashing towards you like an asteroid on the path to destroy your equilibrium and happy bubble.
Ah Father’s day, let’s put aside the commercial element of the day, like so many others I don’t celebrate or mark, and just acknowledge that because there isn’t a proper ‘father’ figure in my son’s life the day very much becomes about having to avoid certain conversations with random people or seeming like you are justifying or defending a situation. Not just any situation, the situation you occupy all the time.
Now I know that the variations in family set ups is vast and the tensions that this day raises for many single parents can be nuanced because we are not all in the same situation, so I will just talk about my set up as that is all I know.
I have a 3 year old. He is aware that there are ‘dads’ as most of his peers at nursery are collected or dropped off by their fathers. He is not aware enough yet to question where his dad is. I’m dreading it and feel wholly unprepared and I am quite glad I have not had to deal with it yet.
This fathers day I made the decision we were going to carry on our day as normally as any other Sunday and pay no attention to the increased number of family units that would be in our usual haunts. I think this is a really good tactic and I will continue to be the strong, competent and resilient figure in my son’s life. Not just on father’s days in the future but on all the days of the week, every week.
We actually had a fun day and packed lots into it. It was a light drizzly but warm day so we headed outside, as outside is one of our favourite past times! We were one of the only people on Llandaff fields and we played with small footballs, bats and balls, silly walks, chasing games and we laughed lots. I reminded myself in the moment that little man F did not see that he was without something on this day, like every other, he was just having the best time with his (awesome!) mum and we added another layer of connection that makes our bond stronger.
We had been carrying the new pedal bike in the boot of the car with us for a few weeks as interest in learning to pedal has been intermittent. Today though little man F decided that he wanted to try his pedals. And boy did he succeed!! Proud mother doesn’t come close to it, and as I wiped the dust from my eyes it dawned on me that he learned to ride, with me teaching him how to do it, on father’s day. I’m usually in the positive outlook camp but I’ll admit to a having a moment of being smug and thinking that it was perfect timing and a bit poignant that it happened on a Sunday in June that happened to be for celebrating dads. Thanks kiddo!!
So after some reflection, my top tips for celebration days when you feel you’re not part of the celebration are:
Acknowledge to yourself that your situation is different
Do not compare - it’s rarely useful and will only make you feel worse
Carry on as normal, and do not feel the need to justify or explain your situation
Recognise the positives that your family set up gives you - I make all the decisions ALL of them ;-)
Build on the connection you have with your children, a day filled with laughter is priceless