Most Father’s Days, I give myself a pat on my back and celebrate being both Mom and Dad for my only daughter. Today, as my daughter prepares to move out, I forgot…..until I received the sweetest voicemail from a fellow single mom who wanted to celebrate US for doing Double Duty all these years.
I have to admit I don’t quite know what being a Dad really is. I have an amazing Dad, who has saved me from the same failed relationship twice, once on the West Coast, last on the East Coast. Yet, I never got to witness a father grow into his role. I never got to struggle through that with a man. It was my choice to leave my daughter’s bi-coastal dad, and while I don’t regret my choice for multiple reasons, I do regret not having that family unit for myself and for my daughter.
I have met several fathers in this tiny town of Ashland, Oregon, who somehow manage to co-parent their children, stay active and in their childrens’ lives, and make the best of it. They are extremely supportive of their ex-wives, keep their mouth shut when needed, speak up when needed, and learn a different struggle. I have witnessed this more than the beauty of the family unit.
For my daughter’s entire life (she is now nearing 19), I would cry when I saw a father that was engaged and proud to be both a doting father and loving husband. I gave that up, because I knew it was not possible with the man that pollinated me. That doesn’t mean I didn’t long to have that and provide that.
Somehow, I managed to marry 2 more times, and each time the pivotal point was how they treated my daughter. We were a package deal. And those marriages didn’t last, and somehow….through the course of my daughter’s life, through my wish to have a family unit that I had given up, my daughter has had 3 fathers, all of whom are not in contact with her. And that kills me. If only I could turn back time, I would not undo my life for my sake, but I would for her’s.
So, I was the soft one, the hard one, the one who took her out on dates, and out to concerts. I am the one who took prom pictures, and spied on her internet activity. I was the one to set limits and consequences, and to talk about life and lessons hard learned. I was the one to teach her (or not) lessons about life, love, responsibilities, money, friends, school, morals and ethics, self-care, boundaries, relationships, cooking, cleaning, nature, self-reflection, and more. And it was tiring. I got to enjoy my daughter less, because I had to pull double duty. I have moved my daughter from the East Coast to the Southwest, to Maui, and to the West Coast.
And today, she is moving out.
And today, I got to be the dad that my dad was to me. Staying active has paid off, for I did the heavy lifting down one set of stairs and up a new. I had the joy of helping my daughter move safely into her new place. While it is tiring pulling double duty, I do get to partake in every aspect of helping her, and that’s a blessing. There are no parental duties doled out to one over the other.
On this Father’s Day, I flexed my muscles in support of my daughter, and then I celebrated by wine and dinner at her work, watching her at her first job, full of pride for the woman she is becoming. Double duty isn’t always easy, but it’s worth the hard work.
To all you single moms out there who hustle every day, and take care of every detail, who shuttle your kids around and advocate at school, and somehow manage work and children and playdates and afterschool activities….without the break that people in co-parenting relationships get…for the single moms doing your best to take care of your kids’ needs and still somehow take care of your own too…for those who must be the sole disciplinarian, sole counselor, playmate, life coach, family doctor, shuttle driver and comedian… HUGE kudos to you for pulling Double Duty. Reach your arms out and wrap them around your awesome self in a big hug.
You are amazing.