parent opinion

"It breaks my heart." 5 single mums share what they do on Father's Day.

There’s nothing like a completely fictitious occasion to help drag up your emotional baggage. Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day… and this weekend, we have Father’s Day.

For single mums, Father’s Day is a strange one, because while it’s not about us, it can bring up all sorts of feelings. It’s complicated and bittersweet.

I know, because I’ve been a sole parent for 10 years. In that time, I’ve felt all the feelings and come full circle.

I also know that it’s helpful to hear you’re not alone, and see how others in your ‘village’ are handling the day.

So, we spoke to four single mums about what they do (and don’t do) for their kids’ dad on Father’s Day. Here’s what they said, and I share my story too.

Angela Bishop talks to Mia Freedman about the transition to becoming a single mum. Post continues below.

Video by MMC

Elizabeth: “It still stings knowing I’m not a part of the days I used to dream about once upon a time.”

I’ve been separated for two years. Father’s Day this year falls on my weekend with my son, Ollie, who is three.

Co-parenting is like baking a cake; one of the key ingredients to getting it all nice and spongy and delicious is flexibility.

We’re raising a living, breathing, conscious human being whose needs and wants are changeable, and that requires us to be adaptable if we want any chance of doing a good job at this thing.

I know that on Father’s Day, Ollie needs to be with his dad. So, we’ve decided his dad will come and collect both of us in the morning, we’ll all go and watch Ollie play soccer, then they will go off to spend the day together doing as they please.

 

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When I was pregnant with my son, I never imagined sentimental days like Mother’s and Father’s Day would be spent separate. It still stings knowing I’m not a part of the days I used to dream about once upon a time.

But you know what? Co-parenting isn’t about me. It’s not about my grief or anger or resentment. It’s about my son and what’s best for him.

I often ask myself how I want my son to look back on his childhood when he’s an adult. I decided very early on I want him to look back at all the photos of me and his dad and see all of the happy memories – all the times, in spite of everything, we came together for him.

The times we spoke together on the phone and laughed and exchanged stories of our son, we attended important events together, united, and the times we selflessly took a step back to allow the other parent to step up and create special memories of just the two of them.

This Father’s Day is about them and their relationship, and I couldn’t be more proud of my part in facilitating that special bond.

Amali: “I’m the one who always makes the effort to arrange Father’s Day.”

My marriage ended badly five years ago, and I’ve had a strained relationship with Sam’s dad ever since, even though I pretty much have full custody and we barely see him.

The good thing is that now Sam is 10 years old, so he can see the situation for what it is: I’m the one who always makes the effort to arrange Father’s Day. I’ve resented it for while, because I feel like my ex does nothing for us, but I do it for my son.

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This year, I let Sam contact his dad himself and decide to see each other. They’re going to lunch for a couple of hours.

I feel like I’ve made that effort for Sam for enough years; and I know it would be emotionally easier on Sam if I protected him from the fact his dad doesn’t want to make an effort, but he’s got to learn the truth at some point.

While they go off, I’m having lunch with a friend, and then Sam and I are going to my parents’ house for dinner. So, for me, the day is not a total loss at all.

What I want other single mums to know is that it does get better as the kids get older.

And also, don’t feel bad if you don’t send along a present; sending your kid is gift enough!

Petria: “Her dad and I are still great mates.”

I’m very lucky – or rather my daughter Claire is. Her dad and I are still great mates, so we do all occasions together and it’s brilliant.

We’ve been divorced for three years, and even though Claire is now 15, it’s still really important that we do things as a family.

I know not every couple who’s divorced can do this. So, I’m grateful.

I always take Claire to choose a present, and book a really nice lunch somewhere, and pay for it. My ex does the same for me on Mother’s Day, and seriously, it’s so much better that we can do this than dwell on the past about the things we hated about each other!

Joana: “It breaks my heart to send my son off to do Father’s Day on his own.”

Our situation on Father’s Day is complicated.

I share my eight-year-old, Harry, with my ex-husband. I also have a daughter with my current husband.

So… what usually happens is Harry heads off to spend the day with his dad, which means that the time spent together as a family with both my kids is limited on that day.

I know the day is about the dads, but it makes me sad. It’s an extra layer of emotion that sort of muddies the day.

It breaks my heart to send my son off to do Father’s Day on his own, too. It’s not the way you think things will be when you first have a baby.

But still, I always make sure I send a present that we’ve picked together, so Harry understands that I respect his dad as much as I respect his sister’s dad.

That’s my job – to make him feel safe, so that’s what I’ll always do as long as he needs me to.

And the good thing? We still get Mother’s Day together!

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Nama (me): “I’ve earned it. I can’t wait.”

I’ve been a sole parent for 10 years, with no shared custody – not even one night – so I feel like I can absolutely celebrate my amazingness on Father’s Day.

Although, if I’m honest, I pretty much do that every day anyway.

We’ve lived in a different city from my 12-year-old’s dad for a couple of years now, but my son spent Father’s Day each year with his dad before that.

It was important to me he did that, because he should still experience what it means to respect and celebrate someone; and so he knows what to do for the family he may have in the future.

And yes, I also encouraged him spending time with his dad on Father’s Day because him being picked up at 9am would mean I could go back to bed!

 

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This year, being in different cities, I’ll ensure my kid calls his dad first thing, and then we’re heading off to our favourite restaurant to stuff our faces with pasta.

I’ve earned it. I can’t wait.

How will you be spending Father’s Day? Tell us in a comment below!

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