I finally finished the dishes. The kitchen was clean. My extended family had left my house and my kids had retreated to their rooms. I was exhausted from cooking, serving and cleaning up, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I host Mother’s Day every year and I love doing it. It is a lot of work but it is always such a nice day. I am happy to celebrate being a mom to my two fantastic teenage daughters.
Now that Mother’s Day is over, I dread what comes next: Father’s Day is in just a few weeks. My husband passed away six years ago, and since then it has become the most hated day of the year for my children and me.
All three of us are doing well now, but there are many very difficult days each year — his birthday, the anniversary of his death, my wedding anniversary — these are days that we think about him a little bit more, wishing that he was here with us. Father’s Day is the worst one of all.
We know the significance of those other difficult days, but the rest of the world does not. My girls and I, sometimes along with friends and family, recognize those days as we wish: a special dinner, visiting the cemetery, or even just taking the day for ourselves to remember him. It is never easy, but we have learned how to best get through it.
Father’s Day is a very different day. It is everywhere and we cannot get away from it no matter what we do. I put on the television and there it is – never ending ads for Father’s Day gifts. Every talk show constantly gives advice on how to make Dad’s day special – from the best presents, to barbecue and baking ideas — they talk about it all.
The hardest thing, especially for my daughters, is social media. Whether it be Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat, our newsfeeds are inundated with Father’s Day messages and pictures. While it is so nice to celebrate the dad in your life, it can be hard for those who are not as fortunate. This also goes for those who find Mother’s Day difficult.
Over the years we have tried many ways to spend this day. We have spent it with family, with friends, or just the three of us at a restaurant. None of these things have been enjoyable. All that we feel is the huge void in our family.
As this dreaded day approaches this year, someone very close to me said that my girls “should be used to it by now.” My response was, “It is something you never get used to.”
I have a friend who lost her father when she was 12. This friend is now a married mother of two and she still finds Father’s Day difficult. I am sure my girls will always feel the same way.
You cannot possibly get used to losing your father at a young age. This is a devastating loss that my daughters will carry with them through their whole lives. After a lot of trial and error, we have learned that we need to do what feels right and what works for us on Father’s Day. It does not matter what we “should” do or what anyone wants us to do.
Everyone handles loss in their own way. We all have good days and bad days. Some may choose to spend a day such as Father’s Day amongst family and friends. My girls and I have found doing that too difficult.
Father’s Day in our house will be celebrated much differently that Mother’s Day was. There will no big celebration with family. If anyone is looking for me or my girls on Sunday, June 17, you will not find us on social media, or at a barbecue, or in a restaurant. You will probably find the three of us cuddling on the couch while watching Netflix. The only person who might see us is the pizza delivery guy. We will keep breathing until the day is over and we can start the new week on Monday.
This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.