Happy Father’s Day, to all of my fellow dads! Today I’m reflecting on my 10th time being honored on this day and my second as a single dad after an unexpected divorce.
In the last 18 months of being a single dad, I’ve had to grapple with the fact that I’m now prevented from keeping my original promise when they were born: I would always be there for them. I’ve had to adjust that promise from always being physically present to being emotionally and spiritually present in their lives. Often I feel guilty about the situation they’re in, and the ways they’ve been asked to adjust, in some ways, grow up more quickly than I would have hoped. I never asked to be a co-parent, and they never asked to split time between homes, yet here we all are.
Shannon and I were talking about Father’s Day and how ironic that many celebrate Mother’s and Father’s Days by the spouse giving the honoree the day off, away from parental duties. However, now being a single father, the parental duties are what made it an incredible Father’s Day. While it was still jarring to wake up without my daughters, with no Father’s Day snuggles, having them over in the morning and cooking breakfast together was a blessing. It touched my heart to get handwritten cards from them with beautiful messages. I loved playing Just Dance with them and having them make fun of my dancing abilities. I loved helping Clara make the Banana Ice Cream she had been wanting to make for weeks, then making them lunch. In the morning that we spent together, I had no downtime – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
As a single parent, I’ve really come to appreciate the love conveyed through the mundane tasks of each day, and how everyday activities become opportunities for learning and expressing love. I’ve learned that my love language is doing nice things for others, and I relish every opportunity to express it for my daughters.
It wasn’t easy when 12:30 rolled around and I realized that my allotted “Father’s Day” time was over, and now they return to the normal co-parenting schedule: my weekend without them. These long stretches, when I’m without my kids, try my soul. I’ve managed to fill the void with a lot of healthy outlets, relationships, and activities, but it still feels like a big part of my heart is missing until my girls are back home.
It goes without saying that I realize I’ll always be their Father, and my girls know that I’m only a video call away – but there is no replacing the joy I experience when I get to share the same space with them. I’m grateful that I got to spend Father’s Day parenting my daughters and relish every chance I get.