The Only Father for My Kids Seems to Be Father Time
This afternoon, as I was setting the table for Thanksgiving with the usual three place settings, I remembered what I told my daughters last Thanksgiving and I became profoundly sad. “Maybe next year, there will be another setting” I said, half-jokingly. Truthfully, I have been making that same feeble joke for more than a couple of Thanksgivings now. Don’t get me wrong peeps, the Three Musketeers are doing just fine on our own thank you very much, and we have been for quite some time. It’s just that during the holidays, I notice that my children seem to feel the father-void so much more, and I can’t help but feel more guilty than usual.
By guilty, I mean that it was up to me to give my children a strong father figure and role model to replace the father who permanently exited their lives so long ago. The truth is that I have failed in that responsibility. The only father that I have managed to secure for my family is Father Time, and he hasn’t been all that good of a replacement. When I hear myself say those words, I cringe, because God forbid I come across as one of those needy women that can’t be happy without a man in her life. It’s not that way at all. I am a tough chick who is capable of starring in my own life story without a leading man. It’s more about my kids, and how important having a male role model is in their lives as they begin their journey into adulthood.
When my daughters and I began this trio act about 7 years ago, my first thought wasn’t to find a new man to fill the empty space their father left. At that time, all that mattered to me was making sure that my children knew how much I loved them and to help them navigate the pain and loss of abandonment. At the time, my babies were scared and confused, and what they needed most of all was solid ground to stand on and one parent that they could count on. The last thing on my mind was dating and taking away any attention that my daughter’s needed. I know that they felt the void of losing one parent, but I was determined to love them enough for two parents. So nope, finding a “replacement dad” (I’d watch that movie) was the last thing on my mind.
As time went on, the possibility of having a real father-figure just seemed to dissipate. All around me, people were getting divorced, and then getting remarried, only to get divorced again— while time just kind of stood still for me in that department. One day, I asked my kids “Are you guys okay? I mean with just us three.” They kind of looked at me blankly like I asked the stupidest question possible. “Um, yeah mom, why?” “I don’t know” I said sheepishly, “I just wondered how you felt about not having a father.” More blank stares and a lot of reassurance followed.
They must have taken that conversation to heart and how bad I felt that I hadn’t put much effort in looking for a replacement dad for them, because that following Father’s Day, I received a card and flowers.
Watching both of my daughters try to navigate their way through the ups and downs of relationships without a father has been one of the toughest things about not having a male role model in the household. The relationship between fathers and daughters is such a special and important bond, one which I have not been able to give to my girls. I can be there for them, but all I have to offer is the female perspective, and well, let’s face it, sometimes a girl just needs her dad. Somewhere inside of me, I know that at some point I have to kick Father Time off of the premises in lieu of a real, living and breathing father for my kids, and no, I don’t believe that there is a cap on when it will no longer be a valuable asset in their lives.
If I could give them a father today, I would, but I can’t just go out on the street corner with a sign that says “Seeking father for my kids”. Well, I could… but God knows what I might end up with. All that I can do is continue wearing the hat of both Mom and Dad. and stay open to the possibility for my kids’ sake. Hey, Christmas is a whole month away, you never know! Maybe this year, there will be another place set, and it won’t be for Father Time!
As a single parent, do you also feel the pressure to fill the mom/dad void? How do you help your kids cope? Share your thoughts with us.
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