A Single Mom's Musings On Father's Day
Tonight I laid in a darkened room with the sweetest little curly-haired 4 year old snuggled up in the crook of my arm - her favorite place to be when she falls asleep. The moon had cast a warm glow over the room and I could hear the waves crashing onto the sugar-white sands of the Alabama beach outside of the condo where we are vacationing with family. It was incredibly peaceful.
It wasn't long before my mind had wandered to the fast-approaching holiday - Father's Day. I am a single mom, so it holds a slightly different meaning for me. I started thinking about how far I've come in a few short years. Today I am fiercely independent, confident, and very self-aware. I am proud of the fact that I take care of my daughter and myself without any help - both by paying the monthly bills but also through the little life experiences that I'm able to provide for her.
It hasn't always been that way.
I was engaged at 20, married to my ex-husband at 22. I went straight from living with my parents to living with him - I had never lived alone (save for a short stint in my sorority house). I didn't know how to buy a car or balance a checkbook. The only thing I could cook was macaroni and cheese from a box. Even my turkey sandwiches needed help. There was a mortgage in my name but I had no idea what the terms were or how it affected me. In short, I was clueless.
Eventually the novelty of being clueless wore off, and at age 26 I found myself in the middle of a divorce and a mom to a 2 year old. I moved back in with my parents for a year until I got on my feet. Suddenly I was flooded with determination. I can DO this, I told myself. I don't NEED a man. I started writing, started working, determined not to let this bump in the road affect my ability to build my business.
I made mere pennies that year, but I was satisfied that the pennies were enough to get us moved out into a place of our own. I found furniture on Craigslist and made due with what I could - as a matter of fact we still only have a TV, rug, and couch in our living room - no entertainment center, coffee table, or end tables. I'm ok with that. I'm aware that I've made sacrifices and choices along the way and that I continue to do so, but I'm confident that they are all worth it.
I used the remaining money to enroll my daughter in what I considered to be the best school available. I saved up for 6 months and took her on a vacation to Walt Disney World - just the two of us - for a week. I found that I treasured my time with her now even more than I had when I was married - suddenly everything seemed as if it could change in a moment's time and I wanted to cherish every single second.
Suddenly the girl who couldn't balance a checkbook was managing a budget, a household, and two full-time jobs - one as a mother and one as a writer.
This may seem small to you, but there was a time when I had no idea how to do those things, or even if I was capable of doing them. Now I realize that I can do them. I'm more than capable. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty freakin' awesome at it - and I'm proud of that.
Father's Day creeps back into my mind, and I think -- it's not my holiday -- I had my turn last month. My daughter will go off to spend the day with her father and I will celebrate with my fiance and his son. As a single mom the holiday really has no significance for me, right?
Then I think, it actually kinda does.
I've become both a mother and father to my daughter. I've jumped into the roles that I always thought would traditionally be filled by a man, and I've done that with considerable aplomb. So, no, maybe Father's Day is not "mine", but it is a time for me to reflect back on all that I have accomplished, all that I have done, and to pat myself on the back. For a moment I think that maybe I might even deserve a spa day, but then I realize I'd rather save that money for something for my little one - there isn't a lot of room for mommy "treats" in this deal, and I'm 100% ok with that.
I want to say that I know I'm not the only single mom in the world. There are so many of you going through this same thing - balancing a demanding career and the role of ever-present mother. I know that you are working hard to be everything to everyone, and and I wanted to take this moment to say congratulations to all of you amazing, strong single moms out there. I hope that you use this holiday to reflect back on how far you've come, much like I did tonight. You all amaze and inspire me on a daily basis.
So, on Father's Day I'll raise a glass -- to me, and to you -- in honor of how far we've come. We may not be fathers, but we are still allowed to celebrate!