By Alicia Harper, REDBOOK
Aiden and me.On Father's Day, my Facebook newsfeed will undoubtedly fill up with well wishes to "all the good dads out there" (emphasis on "good") and "all the single moms who have to play the part of both 'father' and 'mother.'" Every year, these status updates appear in my newsfeed, and every year I cringe a little while reading them.
Then, there are the folks who wish me a "Happy Father's Day." I guess they see me as the single mom who has to play both roles. In the past, I never really knew how to respond to those remarks because, quite frankly, it made me a bit uncomfortable. This year, however, I fully intend on dishing out a response along the lines of "Thanks, but I'm not Aiden's father." (In a polite way, of course.)
I know that these folks have good intentions and that these kind words are coming from a good place. Often times, single mothers have to do twice as much as their paired-up counterparts-but with half the resources and extra hands. I believe that single mothers should be acknowledged for their efforts and resilience. However, we have Mother's Day. That's our day to be recognized-not Father's Day.
I'm not Aiden's father. Although his other** parent may not be as involved in his life as I'd like him to be, he is out there somewhere in the universe. (Actually, he's right across town, but that's another post for another time.)
If I don't acknowledge that I cannot play both roles in Aiden's life, I'm setting him up for some sort of false expectation in my opinion. Children need male and female mentors in order to be well-rounded. I can never be the positive male role model that Aiden needs in his life for the simple fact that I am not male - I don't have the testosterone level.
They say "it takes a village to raise a child," so I've gathered up Aiden's "village" and rallied up his troops. I've hand-selected his support system and, man, are they divine! These positive male role models are champions, and they love Aiden to pieces. They'll have our backs through thick and thin, and I know that I can depend on them to help mold Aiden into a socially competent, responsible, respectful, honest, and caring young man. A true gentleman.
I can't do that. I can tell Aiden and talk until my mouth bleeds, but I can't show and model for him what a true gentleman looks like. I can rock it out as one heck of a Super Mom (a badge that I'll wear proudly from here until the end of time), but I can't be Aiden's father. And I'm okay with that.
So this Father's Day, don't wish me a "Happy Father's Day." I already had my day last month, and it was well spent at a boozy brunch in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and a fun outing in Prospect Park with my favorite little guy. (That would be Aiden, in case you didn't know.)
Let's save the "Happy Father's Day!"s for the dads who are active and present in their child's life. They deserve those well wishes and so much more.
**Due to the nature of my relationship with Aiden's father, this is the way I feel comfortable referring to him.
Alicia Harper, M.A., Ed.M. is a single mother, freelance writer, blogger, and recent graduate of Columbia University who's now a mental health therapist. Her life is filled with all things pink, except for the one bit of blue-her rambunctious 4-year-old son. Together they make a great pair, and Alicia chronicles the trials and triumphs of being a young, single mother living in NYC at Mommy Delicious. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.
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