Parenting Solo: A Father's Day list of thank yous

When I had my children, part of my parenting plan involved staying married to their father forever. That didn’t turn out to be the case. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how many revisions my initial plan has had over the years.

Most women don’t want to have be single mothers. It’s not our first choice. There’s always chatter about how children of single mothers fare poorly, and I’ll admit that when I was married I was privately dismissive of divorced, single mothers. Now I know better, and I bristle whenever I hear someone spouting that tired refrain.

My boys have done quite well, thank you kindly.

But the truth is, I haven’t done it alone. Some years I had more support from their father, sometimes less, but I have always had friends whose advice I could seek when presented with a particularly boy problem. The “boys have penises, girls have vaginas” sex talk was easy compared to the the myriad of nuances that boys learn by emulating the males around them.

Fatherhood isn’t about a return on an investment. It’s not a quid pro quo. It’s not conditional. Fathers don’t play favorites and they don’t ever, ever give up. I could tell my boys that over and over, but when you’re a guy, some things are easier believed from another guy.

So on this Father’s Day, I’d like to take a moment to thank the men in my children’s life whose contributions to their lives helped me be a successful parent.

From my brother who taught my boys how to change spark plugs, to my brother-in-law who surreptitiously slipped me Home Depot gift cards and the occasional plane ticket when my finances were low, to my (former) brother-in-law who took my boys to dinner once a week when their father hardly (if at all) spoke to them;

To my childless neighbor who was always available when there was a “project” that needed more than mom’s handy girl know-how; to the teachers in my family who reinforced my constant prodding (the boys would say harping) on the importance of education; to the coaches who taught my sons about the comraderie of men;

To my friends and siblings and cousins who are fathers and who have happy, stable marriages, you gave my boys the finest example of what a dad can and should be;

To my dad, who taught me that fathers love unconditionally, that they trust even when it near ’bout kills them to do so, and that they cheer for your success no matter how old you are. He never doubted that I could do anything I set my mind to, and his faith in me was his greatest gift.

To all of them, to all of you who I missed, I say thank you. This Father’s Day is for you. I know you’ll agree with me that the boys did us all proud.

My dad and me, circa 1968.

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