This Sunday was Father’s Day; you might have noticed. We don’t really celebrate Father’s Day in this house; S doesn’t have a father in her life, and my dad died almost eleven years ago. That said, I’m a big fan of the concept of the Double Parent and the idea that I’m a double, rather than a single parent. I play both parenting roles in this house.
With that in mind, I made a post for Facebook saying “Happy Father’s Day to all the single mothers who are both parents, all year long.” My intention with this post was to acknowledge the fact that many children of single mothers don’t have a father in their lives. Their mothers are “double parents” rather than single parents, taking on both the traditional role of the mother as well as the father.
I put the post on Facebook, and then carried on with my day. When we came home, I was pleased to see the post had reached more people than expected. There were mostly positive comments on it, with people tagging their friends who were presumably also single mothers. I felt pleased my post was resonating with so many people. Hey, I might even get a couple of page likes from this!
Later in the day, I found a couple of negative comments from people saying I shouldn’t be trying to hijack Father’s Day or take it away from the good dads out there. I replied saying I wasn’t trying to take anything away from dads who were celebrating their day; I was just trying to add single mothers who play both roles to the list of people who should be celebrating. I wasn’t trying to court controversy; if I was, I would have written a post about how a lot of dads don’t deserve to celebrate Father’s Day when they’re a waste of oxygen the rest of the year round. Something like this:
Those parents (regardless of sex/gender) who are living up to the title of good parent won’t be offended by this. It’s…
But I didn’t; I posted something I thought was positive and uplifting.
Apparently, others disagreed. It was “utterly, utterly stupid.” One man said he sensed a lot of anger. There was “why do women always get involved in men’s stuff” (I was tempted to reply with “oh, like voting and being the main wage earner?”) I was told “no mother could ever replace a father; get real” (just you watch me, buddy) and there was, of course, the obligatory “I don’t want to be a dick about this, but…” – and we all know what follows an opener like that.
A lot of the negative comments were from women, which was surprising to be honest. I suppose I thought other people might feel the same way as me on this, and I started to feel a bit down. I considered deleting the post… and then I gave myself a metaphorical slap. At the time of writing, that post has reached over 196,000 people. It’s been shared over 1400 times, been liked over 3000 times, and has dozens of comments – the majority of which are positive. I also have more than 70 new likes on my page, which has never happened before. And realistically, even a negative comment from a narrow minded idiot means that my post will show on that person’s friends’ timeline – and some of them might like what I have to say.
This Mother’s Day, I invited my mother round for roast dinner. I cooked everything; she rocked up at the time I’d told her dinner would be served, and not a minute earlier. I served the dinner and sat next to S, who was feeling tired and grouchy and spent most of the meal trying to lay on my lap, so I didn’t get much dinner. Half an hour after we’d finished eating, my mother left and I washed up what felt like every plate and bowl in the house. Nobody took my daughter to the shop to buy me a card or flowers or chocolates; the fact I was “celebrating” Mother’s Day was overshadowed by the fact my mother wanted her roast dinner and as such, I didn’t have much of a day. A lot of single mothers have days like that; relatives often don’t think to take our kids out to buy silly gifts. On birthdays and Christmas, I effectively buy my own gift from S, but give my sister cash to take her shopping. That’s what celebrations are like when you’e a single mother: a half celebration where you pay for your own gift, if you get one at all.
So why shouldn’t single parents claim another celebration? Why shouldn’t we acknowledge the fact that single mothers often end up playing the role of father as much as mother to their children? Why shouldn’t I say to my fellow single mothers, hey, I know Father’s Day sucks if your kids’ father isn’t there to celebrate with them?
So yes, I accidentally turned Father’s Day into a controversy. But I didn’t take the post down, and I’m not sorry, and I’ll do the same next year. So there.