I have a tremendous talent for turning occasions into something about me, and Father's Day is no exception. Every Father's Day, a few people in my life acknowledge my role as both parents to my son. I always get flowers, and often a bottle of champagne. But luckily, never socks and jocks.
Before I explain what I mean when I say I'm both parents, let me make this clear; parenthood is hard, and it's not a competition. However, there are undoubtedly lots of different types of families, each with their own pros and cons. For every married woman I know who feels she's a "single mum" when her husband is away for work or is on night shift (which I am sure is hard), I know a real single mum; a woman who is the only adult fully responsible for her children in her home. We all work hard at this parenting gig, but there's a small category of parent that is sometimes overlooked.
I'm single, as in, I'm not in a de facto relationship, and I'm a mother. But I'm not only a single mum; I'm a sole parent. My situation is that my son's father is not really involved in our lives. My son does see his dad for fun activities occasionally, for a few hours at a time, with no set routine. They see each other on Father's Day, because that's the right thing to do. But I don't co-parent. There's no custody arrangement -- that kid is all mine. There are no 'off' nights or weekends. There is no financial support; I'm responsible for every cent I need to raise my child. And that's okay with me. My son and I enjoy the most peaceful home I've ever lived in, we are best mates, and I hope that will continue forever.
Having said all of that, I've found some complexities in sole parenting. I can't say "it's your turn" to someone to take him to BMX when it's 10 degrees and muddy. I've had to learn how to make fart 'jokes' and how to pretend they are funny (they are really not). And to disguise (via a glass of wine) how much I want to gouge my eyes out when attending AFL games.
And most importantly, I've learnt to be the only one my son can depend on to always be there. Because we sole parents don't just do a few of those things sometimes like many coupled-up parents, we do all of them, on our own, EVERY time.
And so, as a sole parent, who does all the hard work that most of us do as parents, but with no shared responsibility, I claim Father's Day for myself. Because that's the thing about being a sole parent -- the glory is all yours, too.
And this glory is noticed by those closest to us, which makes me feel so blessed. They know I find Father's Day a cause for celebration of a job (generally, usually, sometimes-when-I'm-tired-just-average) well done. They send me flowers and give me gifts. They tell me I've done a stellar job with my young man. During the year, they offer what they can -- they loan me their husbands occasionally for things like the father-son camp. Or coaching him for cricket. Or taking him for a man-chat on a bike ride. But they know, on a day-to-day basis, it's me, on my own, forcing myself to laugh at every. single. fart joke.
Happy Father's Day to all sole parents out there; and of course, a special acknowledgement to all the sole dads. May none of you receive socks and jocks, or a fart on your pillow as your 'gift'.