Being A Single Mom On Father's Day Is Brutal

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single mom holding baby

The gift of being his mom still leaves me in awe, but it doesn't make being a single mom on Father's Day any easier.

I will never forget that cold, sterile, nameless hotel in Dublin, Ireland.

I was curled up in the fetal position on the bathroom floor after just finding out I was pregnant and the man I had fallen in love with was not going to be involved. All of the grand romantic gestures, the “I love you’s,” and the hints of forever had all fallen by the wayside once his cowardly reaction set in.

It has been over nine years of being a single mom on Father's Day.

I am a single mother to the most incredible human being I have ever had the blessing of knowing, my son, Ayden Lyric Nicholas.

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The fact that there is a person out there who has chosen not to know him leaves me baffled on a daily basis. Any person should be so lucky to have even five minutes of Ayden’s time, let alone get to share his life with him.

Unfortunately, there are many women who can identify with that sentiment. Regardless, we have persevered and we are beautifully intact.

That doesn’t mean there aren't struggles that come along from time to time with the absence of his co-creator (as I like to call him). “Father” or “dad” are not words worthy of him. One of these struggles involves my version of the “F” word, Father’s Day.

Every year, I dread it. There are events at school, projects being made, a barrage of advertising, and a slew of new questions from my son.

There are clips on PBS and Qubo, with children proclaiming their love for their dads and listing all of the cool things their father will let them do that their mother won’t.

Ayden just sits in silence. He is a good, kind, strong little boy — far wiser than his years would lead one to believe. I can’t help but wonder though, what he might be keeping beneath the surface.

For years, I have conveniently used geography as an excuse as to why his father is not in his life. It isn't that I'm unwilling to be open with him. It's quite the opposite, actually.

I put together a book for Ayden with pictures of his co-creator and the story of our relationship together. I have just chosen to selectively share with him in appropriation to his age.

As Ayden has gotten older, he has started asking more in-depth questions. His curiosity is growing and his suspicions about what really happened are becoming more evolved. He knows that we have been to Ireland twice, and even in those times, he has not seen or met his co-creator.

Then, there was the jerk of a girl in kindergarten who told him (in front of me), “There are airplanes. If your dad really cared about you, he would be on an airplane to see you. That’s what my daddy does.” Yes. She was as much of a gem as you can imagine and yes, I called a kindergartner a jerk.

Now, here we are. Another Father’s Day.

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I thought for sure by this time I would have been snatched up on a white horse, or at least a white limo, to become a “complete” unit. Ayden would have some great guy playing that father role.

We would be acceptable to society. Nobody would be looking down on us or feeling sorry for us. I wouldn’t have to be trying to figure out how to handle another Father’s Day with Ayden missing out.

That’s how the outside world sees it anyway.

Here’s the real truth, though. Ayden and I have an amazing support system. The relationship between my mom and my son is one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed.

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We are not lacking love or connection. Plus, we get to make life choices together. As a team. The two of us. Where he goes to school, what he does during summer break, what we cook for dinner. We don’t have to part ways while he bounces back and forth between homes.

We have a bond, unlike anything I have ever known.

I am very much his “mommy ” (as he calls me), and I admit that balancing the dad role is easier said than done. But I do it the best I can.

Ayden knows that at the end of the day, his mom loves him bigger than all of the stars in the galaxies. He also knows that he will respect me. He will be held accountable. And he will conduct himself like a gentleman.

I believe the world is getting a special gift when it comes to children raised by single moms.

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Yes, society can look at us with a bleeding heart. It can be a tough job. But the rewards are immeasurable and have the ability to change the world. I truly believe that.

If you are a single mom navigating your way through another Father’s Day, you know exactly what I am talking about.

One of the best pieces of advice and encouragement I ever received was when I was pregnant. My good friend, Matt (a father to two children), told me, “Melody, I know you’re nervous about doing this on your own and being a single mom, but at the end of the day, you get to be someone I will never be. You get to be a mom. When you see an athlete win the championship, what’s the first thing they always say? ‘I love you, mom!’ There is no role in a child’s life like that of their mom.”

Nine years later, those words ring true.

I cannot take the place of a father in my son’s life but I can support him as he finds his way through it.

Life does not have to look the same for everyone. There’s beauty in the differences, and, from our viewpoint, life looks pretty incredible.

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Melody Alderman is a writer, photographer, and single mom. She has an irrational fear of sharks and once brought home a little leprechaun from Ireland. Her work has been published globally.