Yesterday was Father's Day. A day, that for the last 22 years, has taken on a very different meaning for me, and one I tend to struggle with. It is a day reserved to recognize those men who are actually active participants in the lives of their children. Men who know the value of the little lives they helped create.
One young mother, who is in a very similar position to the one I was in for many years – made a post on her Facebook about being a mother who has taken on the role of the mother and father. She used a term that struck a chord with me. Only Parent! (thanks Hannah)
That was me! The Only Parent!
Being a “single parent” is hard, but being an ONLY PARENT is 100’s of times more difficult! At least single parents have the other parent part of the time. Only Parents do not!
While raising my boys, I did what psychologist recommended. I NEVER put their dad down to them. I never belittled him and I would often use “work” as an excuse for him when he'd fail to show up for important occasions – or even for visitation when he had made a promise only to break that promise and break two little hearts in the process.
You see, when I look back on those special occasions – I have a picture that has stuck in my mind, even to this day, when my twins are now, grown young men, establishing lives of their own. THIS is MY Image:
I remember watching them as they would look out the window, waiting for their dad to show up. Watching every pair of headlights that would come down the road – getting excited that he was coming – only to watch the car drive right on by.
Still, I never let my anger and disappointment show to my children. I could only hope and pray that one day, they would SEE the man for what he is, was and, most importantly, all that he was not.
Yesterday, on Father's Day, one of my boys sent me a text and an image, wishing ME a Happy Father's Day. The image he sent was:
As small as the act may seem to some, to me, it was HUGE! It meant the world to me – because I know now that they KNOW all that I did, and all I tried to be, JUST for them. I KNOW they are becoming the fine young men I raised them to be and all those prayers I prayed, for them to develop their own opinions and see LIFE as it was, with their own eyes, were answered.
As I look back as all the photos of them growing up, I realize just how fortunate I was to have been there for EVERY single, important event and milestone. And as hard as it was then, going without financial and physical presence of “the father” at all, I wouldn't change a single thing and I would go back in a heartbeat to do it ALL again.
To all the young women who find themselves in similar, ONLY PARENT situations, I can tell you from real experience, it will be worth it. It IS worth it NOW! Take every precious moment you are given now. Take tons of pictures, savor every precious second – because in the blink of an eye, you'll be watching them leave home and embark on their own journey in life.
Take the time now to mold the adults your kids will become. Let them be kids, but know that you ARE the greatest influence in who they will become. The pride that fills my heart now is immeasurable! You can have that too if you just focus more on your kids and just how valuable a gift you have been given to be the ONLY PARENT!
In the end, it really IS a very precious gift.