Dear Single Mother on Father’s Day,
I never realized, growing up, what a challenge it must have been for you to balance all of your roles: working mom, single parent, breadwinner, discipliner, comforter, teacher. You worked hard every day at your nine-to-five — and beyond that as a cosmetics consultant or a part-time bookseller. You shopped, cooked, cleaned, mended, shuttled us to appointments, kept the car maintained so we’d have reliable transportation, and somehow managed to find time to study the Bible and share with us what you learned.
You were tired, and it showed. You were broken-hearted, lonely, fearful for the future. The emotionally charged dynamics of our all-girl household seemed at times to amplify your flaws. It was easy to notice your shortcomings, without a partner at home to support you, help you shoulder the burden.
You were rarely thanked for your hard work.
Almost every weekend, you sent us off to Dallas to visit our father and his domestic partner, trusting us to make up our minds about his lifestyle and the choice he made to leave your marriage and our household. Sometimes we’d come home aglow from swimming, partying, listening to loud music with the car windows rolled down, and eating out at restaurants you could not afford. Other homecomings were soberer, following clashes between the values you taught us every day and the selfish, harmful ideologies espoused by Dad and his friends. Each time, you were there to welcome us with open arms and a tender-hearted concern for the development of our young minds that I only understand now as a mother of two girls.
Your belief in and empathy for us were rarely recognized.
You cooked and baked with us. You took us fishing. You kept on top of our schoolwork, ensuring we studied and did our projects on time. You taught us to drive a stick-shift car in the empty high school parking lot. You met first dates at the door with a stern, sometimes fumbling, always cautious greeting. You prayed every day for us to have the lives, the education, the relationships, you never did.
You made it all happen: violin lessons, acting classes, summer camps, oil changes, college applications. We loved you, argued with you, honored you on Mother’s Day, and made the best effort two adolescents could to celebrate your birthday apart from the surrounding Christmas holiday.
But we hardly acknowledged you for taking on the mantle of both parents.
Now married, I appreciate the distinct role my husband fills. He applies everything he’s got to providing for his family’s needs and comfort, from yard work to car maintenance, and from resolving disputes with appliance companies to researching major purchases. He is firm with the house rules when tiredness tempts me to be lax, and level-headed with discipline when my emotions overwhelm me.
I have learned what being a father looks like from watching him. And I have come to realize how far you stretched to be a father to us as well as a mother. You provided and managed. You taught and nurtured. You punished and soothed. You didn’t do it perfectly, but you did the best you could.
Thank you, single mother on Father’s Day. You are appreciated and loved to the top of my heart.
The Fort Worth Moms Blog hosts 20 Neighbor Groups via Facebook, including the Tarrant County Single Moms group. These groups are free to join and offer online and offline opportunities to build relationships and gain resources from other moms in the area.