Celebrating Father’s Day When Your Child’s Dad Isn’t in His Life

Father’s Day is Sunday. I’m a single mum (Jack’s dad chose not to be in his life when I was pregnant), so people can’t help but ask what we do to celebrate, like it’s some big complex thing. Well, it’s pretty simple. On Father’s Day we’ll celebrate the father figures and people in Jack’s life that love him and show up for him. We’ll hang out with my dad—who has always been a huge part of my life and is ever-present in my son’s—as well as my two brothers who do everything for Jack.

But that doesn’t mean my son is A-OK with not having his dad—a dadin his life. I know he feels the burn and confusion and rejection and anger; it’s not fair. It’s pathetic. 

Jack is nearly 7 and he asks about his dad sometimes, especially this week. He wonders what his dad is like and what his house looks like, if he likes pizza and tacos, and if his kids like football (because Jack loves football). It’s all very innocent and sweet and I answer his Qs the best I can. 

I showed him a picture of his dad (he’s seen it a million times and they look alike). I easily answered that he likes pizza and tacos. As for football, I know nothing about my ex’s young kids, but I shared with my son that his dad is a really good runner and that Jack gets his fast moves and long legs from his dad. “Cool, Mum!” And then the conversation just diffused. Phew!

It’s emotional to talk about my ex and remember things. To say nice things about him, when he’s never done a nice thing for Jack or me. But I have to. He doesn’t have to remember me or his child. Or be nice. When Jack was younger, it was cute to call myself a mum-dad; even though I do all of the parenting on my own, I know that I’m not some filler for a real live dad in the flesh. Just this week, Jack told me how it was: “You’re a girl, muuuuuum. I made Father’s Day cards for Poppy, Uncle Carlo, and Uncle Bri. THEY ARE BOYS.” Yikes, but it’s the truth. 

In the past, Jack has always given me a Father’s Day something with a little card, so this will be the first year he actually understands that his other friends aren’t giving their mums gifts this Sunday. I respect his choice and find it organic—and I’m so grateful he made presents for the cool guys in his life. Maybe one day he’ll want to make something for his bio dad. 

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