“Happy Father’s Day!” can evoke a plethora of indiscriminate feelings to the hearer. As we celebrate Father’s Day across the world, there is a wave of emotion being felt by anyone impacted by a father. Maybe today you are feeling joy, anger, grief, bitterness, nostalgia, pride, or gratitude— or perhaps something else entirely. Today I find myself in retrospective reflection as today marks the second Father’s Day that isn’t mine to celebrate.
I became a single mom when my only child was 5 months in utero in January of 2011. I never thought it would happen to me. This was no time for a pity party. I had to put my big girl panties on and face the music. I stayed a single mom for almost 3 years. During that time, single motherhood taught me a lot about myself and about fatherhood, because when you’re a single mom, you’re “Dad” too.
The first thing to go up are walls and defenses. You’re an island now. You have to be the image of strength and security for your little one while maintaining soft motherly repose that whispers, “Everything’s going to be ok.” All you have is each other. The first prayer that I prayed when I got home from the hospital after Matthias was born and continued religiously afterward was this:
“Lord please maintain his innocence and protect him from abandonment issues. Raise Him up to be a mighty man of God who is secure in You as Father.”
I was the Grizzly in Proverbs 17:12. I was a fortress. No one was getting in. I began to resent the stigma of being a single mom and made sure to never come across as needy or “woe is me”. Single mom means you’re a stain on this thing called Christian Marriage. Congratulations you just became another statistic. At least that’s how I felt about it. I felt the need to over-share with people that didn’t know my situation. Nothing is worse than the assumed child-out-of-wedlock-scowl.
So when Angel dared to lift the moss covered, rusty door knocker of this locked down fortress despite having a baby in tow, I was crystal clear about my standards. The crap cake was indeed cut that day. Anything beyond platonic friendship was a packaged deal where my 2 month old at the time was concerned. After about 50 rounds of “Are you sure?” followed by my self deprecating list of why you should run, not walk away from this mess, he was able to calm my insecurities and abandonment issues.
Never had such love in one’s eyes and a frank “yes” from one’s mouth still the fear stirred up in my soul. Two and a half years later he made good on his word of commitment with rings on both our fingers and the adoration of a 2 year old boy. Here I was wondering what to do about this identity of single-mom that I had taken on even though I resented everything about it.
Suddenly Matthias and I had more than just each other and I didn’t have to be Dad anymore. It was scary. When I was single all I wanted to do was put my son’s heart under lock and key to make sure he would never feel the hurt that I felt before he was ever born. But now that the door of that fortress is unhinged by the love of a great man and father, I now know that risking it all is the best thing that has happened to us.
So Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, biological or otherwise.
Happy Father’s Day to all the single mamas kicking butt. Do not lower your standards and keep doing what you do for your babies, because I promise you that you are doing it right.
And to all the ex-single moms like myself, honor the man that has stepped up to be a father to your children because he is exuding the Spirit of Adoption on your babies in the same way that The Father lavishes over us so that we can cry out, Abba Father.