I will never forget when a dozen roses showed up at my door Father’s Day weekend, just one month after my world was rocked and my ex had a protective order against him. They were from my boss with a note that said, “I’m sure this is a tough weekend. Thinking of you.”
She was right. I had been dreading it. The kids had just made a “Best Dad Hands Down” t-shirt at church with their little prints on it, and I was so angry that they didn’t have the best dad. This entire weekend set aside to honor dads, and theirs was no where to be found.
Like so many things in life, you don’t know what you don’t know. The experiences that shape your life, like having a traditional nuclear family with a mom and a dad, may leave you blind to the pain I felt when my kids had to make Father’s Day gifts at school the year their dad left and then the year after he passed away. While I would never want to see schools and daycares stop making those adorable handprint gifts, I want them to be more inclusive.
If your child’s teacher is unaware of the situation at home, tell them. The teacher can very easily encourage the child to make a gift for a grandparent, uncle, or even mom. Whether you are a two-mom household, a solo mama, your kid never knew his dad, he passed away, etc—just know that there are dozens of reasons why a child may not want to make a Father’s Day (or Mother’s Day, conversely) gift for a parent. And maybe they have someone else special in mind.
You can also celebrate someone or something else. Maybe it’s celebrating your dad for the weekend. Maybe it’s celebrating the first day of summer, which usually falls around that day. In our case, we made the weekend about my son, who has a birthday around that day. Even now that I’m remarried, we tend to celebrate his birthday as our primary focus. This may shift as he gets older, but for now, it works for us.
And finally, just treat it like any other Sunday. Do you normally go to church? Well honestly, I’d skip this one because a lot of churches do some nice celebratory things, and I find it kind of painful. So what about a big brunch somewhere? Or a day at the pool or an amusement park? Just go have a good, summer day with your kids and soak them in.
You can read more about our journey without dad in my first book, The Other Side of the Door, which is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.