Sitting in the far corner of the living room in our small two bedroom apartment, I watched as mother counted out loose change with tears streaming down her face. I can’t recall what she’d intended on buying or exactly why she was crying. I was only 10 years old but in that moment, I realized that we were poor and a year before that I realized, unlike me, most kids outside of my neighborhood had their fathers in their day to day life to help out. These two narratives of poverty and a fatherless home are highlighted, every year, on the day created to celebrate our dads.
17 years later, I am a single mother myself, sometimes totally stressed out about money and finances and this and that, feeling the anxiety bubble up inside of me like a ready to erupt volcano. But, when I look at my personal situation with single motherhood, I don’t for a second think that I am raising my little boy by myself. For me, his father is very much an active part of his life. For my mom, though, and many women like her, the father is completely absent and the moms end up expanding their parental responsibilities instead of sharing them.
I don’t doubt this. However, on Father’s Day, do not celebrate the single mothers and do not celebrate me. Instead, celebrate the men in the lives of the children that act as fathers. Growing up, my grandfather and uncles and brothers played a huge role in my life before I eventually met my dad. They taught me how to act like a lady, how to be treated by a man, how to cut with a knife, how to brush my teeth; they helped raise me. So, when Father’s Day would roll around, I made cards for my grandfather and uncles and was content.
However, on Father’s Day, do not celebrate the single mothers and do not celebrate me.
The issue with it is that single motherhood does not mean solo parenting. Being a single mother means that I am not in a relationship; particularly with my child’s father. What it doesn’t mean is that there are no valuable male figures in my child’s life, whether it’s his father or not. Just like mothers, fathers can be found and cherished in just about any man that cares and loves my child alongside or in place of his actual dad. My job as his mother is to ensure that he is constantly exposed to positive black male figures, his father included, that can be celebrated on this day.
My job as his mother is to ensure that he is constantly exposed to positive black male figures, his father included, that can be celebrated on this day.
Father’s Day is not my day. It is not the day that we bash the absent, dead beat, worthless, abusive, good for nothing, pieces of shit that make up half of our children’s DNA. It is not the day that us, as single mothers, sit back and allow the accolades and celebrations to roll in for stepping up to the plate even though that plate was not supposed to conquered alone. This Father’s Day, let’s celebrate the men in our lives that have supported us, loved us, and pieced together the spot where our actual fathers might have left vacant.