By Tiffany Markman, copywriter, editor and mom to an almost-four-year-old, who tries to balance her workaholism with cuddles, books, caffeine & reining in her intrinsic kugelry. Follow her on twitter.
Fathers’ Day can be a toughie for those without dads, as I’m sure Mothers’ Day is for those without moms. But my mom and I have a special way of doing things that makes us feel better about having to survive without Dad for so many years.
Well, Mom certainly feels better, because… She is celebrated on both days.
My father passed away when I was six years old, from an unexpected heart attack. I am my mom’s only living child, so it was just the two of us from then (with welcome support from my half-sisters, late gran and assorted aunts, uncles and cousins).
But Fathers’ Day sucked. So we decided Mom would be honoured as a dad as well (and she has, for the last 25 F-Days because, in all of the real ways, she was.)
She did all of the ‘traditionally mom things’: lift schemes, homework and project assistance, grocery shopping, fashion advice, boy/man advice, hair/nails/facial guidance, and showing me how to be really kind and engaging to all strangers.
She did all of the ‘traditionally dad things’ too, but with a twist: solo bread-winning, solo disciplining, getting experts in to paint and change lightbulbs, out-sourcing my driving lessons to a pro, teaching me how to give brilliant service in business, helping me to buy a flat, teaching me to be a self-starter, teaching me to love wine.
And when it came to the things Mom wasn’t naturally brilliant at, like financial management, investment and policies, legal advice and technology, she made sure I had access to all of the people who would teach me what I needed to know.
So, while I certainly missed Dad in particular and having a father in general, I have a strong feeling of not being hard done by as a kid, and of my mom doing just as fine a job in raising me as they might have together, if that had been possible.
If you’re the child of a single mom (or a you have an amazing uncle, aunt, cousin or friend of the family who’s stepped into the breach), here are 6 Fathers’ Day tips:
1. Write your mom a Fathers’ Day card, and in it, list all of the things she does for you that aren’t traditionally mommy things.
2. Take her out for Fathers’ Day brunch, lunch or dinner (breakfast’s just too early) and celebrate with manly food and drinks: boerewors, burgers, beer.
3. Schlep her off to see an action movie. In 3D. If she/you can bear it.
4. Buy her a present that’s functional rather than pretty. But nothing crap like a tie, socks, soap on a rope or a pack of biltong.
5. If she still lives alone, ask her for a list of all of the crappy DIY she needs done: hanging art, re-locating pot plants, fixing appliances, updating virus protection software, etc, and then go do it. All of it. Without whining.
6. Take her to a spa. They’ll be quiet on F-Day, and you’ll both enjoy it.
And if you’re a single parent yourself? With little kids? Tell them you’re going to celebrate Fathers’ Day anyway, starting this year. It’ll give them something to be excited about at school and on the day, and it’ll make them feel more ‘normal’.
At least, I did.
Now all I have to worry about is how to (afford to) spoil four fathers: Mom, my husband, and his father and grand-father. Any ideas from the mommy gallery?