My 10th Mother’s Day as a mom was very nice. My daughter and I had brunch with my mom and sister and my sister’s family. My 10-year-old also made me card at school where all the kids had made cards for their mom.
It was lovely.
But immediately, my 10-year-old started worrying about Father’s Day. “What am I going to do? I don’t have a father.” It’s a discussion we’ve had for probably six or seven years in a row. I am a single mom who used an anonymous sperm donor to conceive. She, of course, has a biological father — I’m not claiming any divine intervention — but she does not, did not and never has had any kind of father. And she’s always known it.
Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg recently wrote about her deepening understanding of how our culture — despite being full of families of all kinds — still assumes a mom, dad, kids scenario. She’s been a widow for a year and talks about being stung by father-daughter dances, parent’s nights and the like since her husband passed away. Welcome to my world, Sheryl, lean in.
So when Izzy brought it up again this year, I went through my usual song and dance: you can make something for Uncle Andy, her great-uncle (he loves anything that comes from her), you can pick a friend of ours to make something for. Or, I offered as an after-thought, since I’m pretty much your mother and your father, you can always make something for me.
She rejected that idea out of hand. She’s leaning toward her great-uncle (my dad passed away, so no grandpa in the picture). And it gave me pause. Am I really mother and father, as some friends have suggested?
Yes and no.
I do take care of it all, from putting together furniture that comes in a box with just pictures and an Allen wrench, to buying and cooking the food, to laundry (although, she’s learning, which is a great development!) earning the money, paying the bills, researching school options, making the decisions big and small (socks today? Yes! Sleepaway camp? Not yet!). But you know what? I’m parenting, plain and simple. There is no “mom” job or “dad” job. Whether you’re a single mom or a single dad, you are doing it all — all the parenting nitty-gritty from toilets to toenails, concerts to coaching, homework to health forms.
Would I like to get another special picture, lovingly created just for me by my beautiful and talented and sweet girl on Father’s Day? Sure. But she’s right. I’m not her dad, she doesn’t have one. She has a mom who loves her (and lots of other people who care about her, too), and she makes my life full and stressful and fun and full of love and adventure every day of the year. I love and support her, she loves and supports me. I don’t need another card.
Now, let’s talk about how to celebrate National Strawberry Shortcake Day, shall we? (It’s coming on June 14 … don’t get caught without a card or a generous dollop of whipped cream over biscuits and berries!)