I shared a meme on FaceBook the other day that said something like "Happy Father's Day to all the single mothers doing double duty." I shared it because I thought it was a nice recognition of the moms that are both mother and father to their kids, but I didn't think that much about it until a single dad friend replied something along the lines of "don't co-opt our holiday, it's hard enough being a non-custodial parent."
I thought about it for a while and took it off my wall. Being a single mother who doesn't have any father at all does not make you a father as well, it makes you a damn fine mother. Kids, if that is your situation, don't buy two presents, one for each holiday, just a really big one on Mother's Day. My friend was right, Mother's do get a day already. I grew up having to recognize my lesbian stepmother for both holidays in order to appease her, and that irritated me. Just pick one! I used to think.
I thought further about Father's Day and although I had the boys make their father a card, I now wish I had made him one as well.
When he and I were getting divorced, I objected to shared parenting (to my lawyer, not to my ex) because I couldn't imagine the kids spending nights away from me. "Don't worry, he'll get tired of it in a year," she said. "It's not worth fighting over. Fathers never keep up on visitation once it becomes a hassle. Just wait it out."
The lawyer was wrong. My ex is an excellent father, and he has never shirked in his commitment to the children. He never stood the kids up for any reason, not work, stomach flu, or knee surgery. He takes them to a baseball field every day that he has them and throws balls over and over, something I tire of in about five minutes.
But the reason that women buy their husband's father's day cards is to recognize how the father makes the mother's job easier as well. My ex-husband rearranges his schedule for my school needs, as well as the boys' baseball schedule. He shares extra expenses without a fight. We go to school conferences and talk about everything kid related extensively, not just school issues but sports and how they are adjusting and what push back we get from the little monsters about rules. He's still my co-parent, even though we live in separate houses.
Before you get too dewy eyed and romantic, just know that this would not have been the case had we remained married. The kids would have been raised in a household of tension and unhappiness if we stayed married. There is no question that we function much better in two houses than one. This isn't a blog about reconciliation or reunification.
And it's not like we both agree with the way each other run our separate houses, but we recognize each other's right to have "Mama's house, Mama's rules, Daddy's house, Daddy's rules," and try not to interfere.
The point here is that I appreciate my ex-husband. It might not exactly be hallmark card appropriate, and honestly, I don't think my getting him a card would mean anything to him. I'm not sure he'd even read it before he threw it out, not because he's mean but because he doesn't like to talk about stuff like that. Actually, I think if I got him a card it would piss him off, because of course he's a good father, WTF did I think of him. So I am saying it here, where he may or may not read it, but at least someone will.