Father’s Day When You’re An Only Parent Dad
Let me just put this out there first. I don’t like the term ‘single parent’ or at least not in my circumstances. The term doesn’t sufficiently address the situation that I and many other fathers find ourselves in. As an only parent the challenges are different. I don’t have my boys just at weekends, holidays or the odd day during the week. I take care of them full time. There is no time off for me every other weekend where I can go and do as I please. There isn’t someone else to split doing the school run with, attend assemblies instead of me or go from one after school activity to the other. No one to help manage my diary and pencil in the never ending number of friends parties or other social events that my boys take part in. This is not a complaint, as those of you that have read other posts or interviews of mine, will realise that I completely embrace all of the above. This is just me giving a very brief insight into life as an only parent.
"Most of the only parent dads that I know are widowers with dependent children and for us Father's Day is another reminder of the loss that we have suffered."
'FATHER'S DAY WHEN YOU'RE AN ONLY PARENT' by @widowerafterafe
— Music.Football.Fatherhood. (@MFFonline_) June 15, 2018
The point is that when it comes to Father’s Day as an only parent, myself and many other dads feel the enormity of our situation even more. It starts with when you’re driving along and you start to see the signs up for booking a Father’s Day lunch. It then continues when you walk into gift or card shops and all around you are reminders. The one day of the year that we would like to put our feet up, be brought breakfast in bed, get spoiled and not have to lift a finger, ends up just like every other day. Or at least it does when you have young children.
Most of the only parent dads that I know are widowers with dependent children and for us Father’s Day is another reminder of the loss that we have suffered. As the date gets ever closer I know the number of posts by members in our closed Facebook group will increase. Members will start to feel the pressure of the day and everything that is associated with it will really start to get to them. The first few Father’s Days after my wife died were very difficult indeed. 5 years in and the intensity has lessened but the awareness is still very much there. I have faired differently than some of my fellow group members, as I have at least had friends and family step up. My first Father’s Day was 3 months after my wife died. It was awful but a few days before the parents of a group of my eldest son’s friends had organised a whip round to get me a card, balloons and an adult scooter. My son loved his scooter and so they thought it was a good idea to get me one so that I could scoot with him in the park. It turned out to be a great idea and my boys and I scoot or ride our bikes together now as much as possible. Also the wife of my one of my cousin’s never forgets about me and the boys and she always organises us all going out for a lunch. I don’t need to do anything but get myself and the boys to wherever she has booked. Others have taken the boys shopping, helped them to make cards, prepared a breakfast and left it in the fridge so that the boys just have to bring it up to me first thing on Sunday morning. But many other dads don’t have this level of support. There are many different reasons why and the context of every situation is different. It’s not that the support will change things but that it’s nice to have others recognise how hard it is as a only parent dad regardless of individual circumstances.
So as we approach another Father’s Day, the next time you see a dad on his own with his kids just remember that behind the smiles, the laughter, the kicking a ball around and the chasing around the park, could be someone like many of us who are doing right by our kids in ways that you may not even understand.
By Alec Grant