Father’s Day 2002.
I remember the day this photo was taken clearly. That was fifteen years ago, ironically, Father’s Day. This was the day I found out that I needed to be brave and be single. Little did I know HOW brave I needed to be. Months later, I was divorced, financially broke, and my ex became a paraplegic.
That year, I did my best to just hold everything together with a safety pin. Jake and Tarah deserved that, at least. I felt tired, broke, and hopeless. I had learned to scrimp on everything and live off very little. McDonald’s was an infrequent dining experience, free videos from the library saved a trip to Blockbusters and the hefty $3.69 rental fee, garage sale shopping became an art form, and trips to Target were only made to acquire necessities.
I learned to be both mom and dad. I know it is stereotypical, but mom is the “go-to” for a hug, permission, or an encouraging word and dad steps into the light, front and center in matters of money, direction, or maybe unwanted disciple. My kids never knew when they approached me if they were going to get “mom” or “dad”. If they didn’t like the answer they would quip, “Where’s mom?”
Here are seven lessons, I learned about being a dad and a single mom.
1) Dad typically makes the money and has the burden of being the provider. No one holds mom, out on a line to dry, for losing her job.
2) Dad’s don’t get the luxury of whining. You need to put on your suspenders holding up your trousers and “ Man-Up.”
3) Dad’s don’t get be cute. They hold the heavy plate of responsibility. You want cute, “Go to mom!”
4) . There is no game of “tag-your it.” You are always it. So take a time-out and learn to sit on the sidelines kick back and enjoy a good “cigar” or a big bowl of ice cream.
5) The decisions are always yours. There is no democracy. There is no polling. It is all you, but thankfully it is all YOU. There is no “second-guessing spouse” playing, “Monday Morning Quarterback. Call your play, get your team in position, and go for it.
6)Dad is usually the “heavy hand”. If I had a dime for every time I heard, “You just wait until your father comes home,” … Own up! Being the dad isn’t for sissies.
7) Being dad is a thankless job. Mom gets all the cute handmade cards throughout the year. Dad is remembered today.
It may be a thankless job, being both mom and dad but occasionally you may get surprised.
Fifteen years ago, I struggled to mask my tears as my six-year-old son whispered to me, “Mommy, are you alright?” “Yeah, honey.” But I was unable to convince my smart boy.
“Don’t worry, Mommy; ‘God will meet all your needs.’ Philippians 4:19.” I realized nothing gets passed God. He had the big and small details of my life and used my own little boy to teach me the biggest lesson.
Today, the little boy is 21 and my little girl is 20. I am proud that I am their “Go-To” with their tough questions, as I happily pour myself a scotch(or Fat Tire), kick back in my recliner ( my beach towel) and breathe in the sweet taste of a Cuban ( or salt-water breeze) and listen to the Whisper Within. Happy Father’s Day.