Father’s Day is fast-approaching, and that means lots of pats on the back and neck ties of questionable taste for the many involved and present married fathers, single fathers, stepfathers, and grandfathers in our lives. Way to go, guys! You’re doing great – enjoy that beer.
But as we celebrate dads this year, let’s keep in mind that 30% (approximately 10 million) of America’s families with children under the age of 18 are single-parent families. And 75% of those families are held together by luck, prayers, and single moms.
In a twist that shocks absolutely no one, single mothers outnumber single fathers 3 to 1 in this country.
In fact, 80% of American children living in single-parent households reside with their mother only. No co-parent; just a mom doing it all 24/7; solo.
The emotional weight and physical/mental demands are exhausting.
And we see you, mamas.
We know you bring home the bacon and cook it, too. You work long hours and odd jobs to make ends meet. You pay the rent and track the bills. You oversee lawn and car maintenance while keeping the fridge stocked and the lights on.
The few precious hours you don’t have to spend at work have you wearing the hats of chaperone, cook, housekeeper, tutor, bookkeeper, and activities director.
You attend parent-teacher conferences alone. You get those kids’ butts in the church pews on time alone. You handle sports physicals, immunizations, dental check-ups, and trips to the eye doctor alone.
Fevers and ER visits? Alone.
The sex talk? Alone.
First jobs, college applications, and graduations? Alone.
And it’s not that you’re stronger than the rest of us, although your strength is undeniable.
We know you’re sick of hearing, “I don’t know how you do it!” because you don’t know how you do it, either.
You do what you have to do because you don’t have a choice, and your kids deserve the best whether their dads are or aren’t in the picture.
You make one paycheck stretch until it’s so thin it’s nearly transparent. You take the 24 hours in a day we’re all afforded and cram twice as much into them.
You don’t get the rest, self-care, and “me time” you deserve.
But your children are watching you hustle. They know you’re up before the sun and don’t go to bed until way too late. They know that you have their backs – that there’s nothing you wouldn’t do for them. They see what it means to truly sacrifice for the good of others, and they are learning from you a work ethic that will carry them through young adulthood into their professional years and parenthood.
So this year, as we celebrate fathers in all shapes and forms, we include you on the list of hard-working, dedicated role models in our children’s lives.
We know it’s just another typical day for you, but we hope you know your efforts do not go unnoticed. Building a legacy isn’t easy, and we’re all watching you and taking notes.
You’re doing great – now go enjoy a cold beer!