I’ve had a number of people tell me I should celebrate Father’s Day because as a single parent I fulfill both roles for my daughter. As much as I appreciate what they are trying to do, I want to give my own perspective on this.
First, and foremost, as a child who had an absentee father for a portion of my life growing up and my mother was a single parent during those years. I know from experience that a mother will NEVER fulfill the part a father takes in a child’s life. Let me explain why.
First, maybe a hundred years or so ago a father’s role was that of the breadwinner and the mother’s role was that of raising the children and guiding them and taking care of the home. Those roles are no longer accurate for today. If a hundred years ago a father was gone and the mother had to earn a living for her children then maybe she could be seen as fulfilling both roles but even so there is still a portion that will NEVER be fulfilled.
Second, no matter how hard a mother tries she can never fulfill the part that helped create her child. Sperm has to come from a man, whether she gets pregnant by normal means or by in vitro or whatever other ways there are, the sperm is still part of a man and that part within every child craves the fulfillment of a man in their lives.
In today’s society, men and women, both work to bring in the money. They both, or at least I would hope they both participate in taking care of the house, and the children. I can’t pretend to be in other households to know if this is true or not, but in what I have seen in some households the women seem to take a greater part in caring for the children, in other households I’ve seen the men have a greater part. No matter the amount a father participates, in a family with a man, the male figure is there and fulfills that need within a child to have a father present.
No matter how much each partner helps out within raising children and taking care of the household each parent fulfills that need within a child to have a mother and a father. I’m not sure how this works in gay families but I would assume one parent becomes the father and the other the mother if not then that child will miss the element of whichever parent is not present.
Remember this is my viewpoint. I am explaining this because of what others have said to try and make me feel better and from my own experience. It doesn’t matter if I perform the functions of both mother and father, the fact remains, I will never fill that gap within my daughter’s life that was left behind by her father. I know this because I have that gap as well within me.
In some ways, I think it is a cop out for women to tell other women to celebrate Father’s Day because they have fulfilled that role. I think it gives some men the freedom to say, or think, “oh, they don’t need me they can do it all on their own, even Father’s Day”.
I am a mother. I teach my daughter what she needs to know. I would do the same whether she had a father in her life or not. I fulfill my role as a mother, not as a father. I am not a man, I did not provide the sperm, as much as I try, I will never fulfill that gap in my daughter’s life. And… I think it is wrong for me to even try. I provide everything she needs except that one element that a man can give her. That element is a mystery. It is something that only a father can provide for his child. It isn’t something a mother can provide, no matter how hard she tries. It is a connection. It is a special bond between father and daughter, or father and son that is completely different from the bond between mother and daughter or mother and son. So please, let’s put the onus where it belongs. On the fathers in society. Those who have fathered children and do not fulfill the role.
I fill sadness today, not because I have not been able to provide everything my daughter needs, but because her father chose to be absent and then chose to create circumstances that will keep him absent and out of her life. I am sad for both of us because this day means we have lived a portion of our lives without the connection with our fathers that every child should have. I will never ask my child to not grieve over not having a father. I will never tell her that she should feel fulfilled because I have provided everything for her. Because I haven’t and I can’t fulfill that connection she should have with a father.
It is my opinion when people tell me to celebrate Father’s Day because I take on the role of both father and mother, they say this to make themselves feel better. Not me. And not my child. But them.
It is a way for society to keep men from feeling responsible and doing their duty as a father. Let’s face it the opposite is also true, if a mother is absent and the father is the single parent. I am by no means picking on men. There are women who do not fulfill their duties as mothers. But this post is about Father’s Day and about single mothers.
I think we do ourselves an injustice by making these kinds of statements. What are we teaching our children? Will the boys grow up think it is okay to go about fathering children while not taking responsibility for them? Will our daughters grow up thinking they can be both father and mother to their children and push men out of their lives who would gladly fill the role of a father? Will the opposite be true? I teach my daughter what the responsibility of a father and mother is. I also include grandparents and friends, brothers and sisters and so forth in this discussion so she will understand the true meaning of relationships. I don’t just talk about their physical role which is what most people imply when they say as a single mother I fulfill both the father and mother roles. I teach her the emotional, the connection, the fulfillment she has with me as her mother and how that relates to not having a father and the emptiness she feels because of it.
The injustice is when we negate those connections. When we pretend they are not important. Or that someone can fulfill both when in fact they cannot. I won’t negate my daughter’s feelings and I won’t negate my own feelings. I know the loss, and therefore, if Father’s Day for us is a day of mourning then that is what we feel and we want our friends and family to understand that and be supportive of our feelings.
Love to all, to both fathers and mothers, but most especially to those who feel that gap, that loss of connection. I pray one day that it will be filled and if not, then I send out a *hug* for all those who can use one.