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Monday, June 16, 2014

Father's Day

Yesterday, all social media was a veritable smorgasbord of Father's day gratitude and wishes. While I'm grateful as hell for my step-dad, and my grandfather was the best dad ever, it's not my bestest day ever. Interestingly enough, my daughter doesn't jump for joy on Father's day either. I like to think that I'm far beyond my past experience, that we make our own future in spite of ourselves. I will always believe that we choose who we become, and that at a soul level nobody can influence who we choose to be. We are in charge of ourselves.

It's tough, though, to overcome some ideas. If, in your experience, almost every man you know has lied, cheated on you or bailed out entirely, trust is not wildly abundant. I dislike my mistrustful nature, it's something I struggle with and am trying to overcome. But at the same time, it's pretty difficult to dismiss a lifetime of experience. I wish so much that I could have provided my daughter with something better, a different understanding, but you can't make people be compassionate, connected or responsible, even when they appear to be all those things (well, as long as they are getting what they want, anyway).

I was already feeling somewhat bummed out when a friend posted an aggressively ignorant (and over-the-top offensive) comment about "lazy single mothers". I won't use the language I would like to here, but I hit the delete button pretty quickly yesterday. If a person can believe for a moment that a single mother has the luxury of being lazy (job, no job, either way), then that's a special kind of ignorant. The kind that doesn't take into account the MAN who is 50% of the equation. Women make mistakes. Some of us start our lives believing only the best in people. We believe the words we are told, we believe "I love you" means just that. Sometime we make ourselves sick believing it, we so need to find that human compassion in another person. Is it OUR fault then, that we were lied to? That we were left holding the bag? Please, explain to me how? How is it our fault that we can't read the deception when someone lies with sincerity to our faces? Should we just assume all men are cheaters and liars, then?

I won't do that. I won't judge an entire group of human beings based on the egregious behavior of a few (unlike my ignorant "friend"). All the same, the things I've learned stay with me. I have learned that if I want it done, I have to do it. That in a pinch, I can count on me. I have learned not to give my trust away. Now it has to be earned. I have learned that my strength and resourcefulness is unlimited. I learned the hard way. Unfortunately, so has my daughter. I know what it's like to fall on my face while others thrive at my expense.

We're okay, my daughter and I. Better than okay because we're careful and smart. Neither of us is the sad "If I don't have a boyfriend I'll just die" type. I feel sorry for those women, always depending on a man to define who they are. I love that we can stand on our own two feet. I learned how to do that from my "lazy single mother". The one who raised two children without child support (I only raised one child without child support), and yet still managed to give us her time and her love. She didn't run our father down, but told us the good things about him so that we may feel good about all parts of ourselves. Our "lazy single mother" encouraged all our endeavors, even if it meant working more hours to support them or finding more hours in an already-too-short day to make things happen. She did it all with a sense of humor (she wrote her master's thesis on the health benefits of having a sense of humor) and in spite of the struggle our house was warm and full of laughter. She never said "you can't do that, you're a girl". We believed we could do anything, because she showed us we could.

So, to my aggressively ignorant "friend", and to those dads who are whining about single moms getting Father's Day cards, deal with a dose of reality, if you please. While I'm certain of the value of a good dad, there are many of us out there who know that sometimes, men bail. We women won't take the blame and we DO deserve the credit for picking up the broken pieces of the family left behind.

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