Each year around this time, I get flooded with messages of best wishes and celebratory notes in regard to my role as a single parent.

But I ask of you, please, don’t wish me a Happy Father’s Day this year.

I remember the first time this happened 6 years ago. My daughter was an infant and I was going through a divorce.

“Hey Erinne, I know you’re playing both roles so I just wanted to wish you a Happy Father’s Day.”

Well, isn’t that sweet (and accurate), I thought to myself. I took this remark as a compliment. The next year, those types of messages increased. Finally, people are getting it! Each year I expressed my gratitude to those who recognized “what I was going through.”

Over the years, though, I’ve realized the only thing benefiting from this mentality of “doing it all” was my ego. Not only that, but parents don’t need the added pressure of having to be “both parents.” Regardless of how much the “other” parent is or isn’t involved, there’s no reason for mom to try and be dad or vise versa.

Before my daughter was aware of holidays and family dynamics, I used to worry about how to approach things like Father’s Day. Would she feel sad that her dad lives far away? Should I skip the day entirely and pretend it doesn’t exist? While it certainly wasn’t my responsibility to play the role of father, my role as a mother is to make her feel comfortable, confident and happy. If I were to walk on eggshells when it came to which family members would be present at school functions and at the holiday dinner table, then she would most definitely feel “different.” But if I show (not tell) her that we have all control over how much fun we have simply by choosing to do so, then these various situations we label as a time for parents, families, etc. will be embraced as her “norm.”

Often we hear something along the lines of “kids need their fathers around.” But more importantly than a presence, kids need to know they are loved. Kids need to know there are varying levels of love and even if their parents aren’t married, they still love each other. When children ask why mommy and daddy aren’t together anymore, we are doing them a disservice to say “we just fell out of love.” What is that teaching our kids about love? That we can potentially fall out of love with them, too? As much as we have days when we do not get along with the other parent who helped bring our children into this world, try to remember that we all love as best we can, keeping in mind people reveal this love in the only ways they know how.

Early in my divorce, I wanted to make sure my daughter’s father knew just how much I did as a parent. Comparing the tasks I did versus what he didn’t do certainly did not make be a better mom. In fact, I found myself taking photos just so I could say “look what the two of us did today. YOU missed out.” I created a competition with someone who didn’t even live in the same state. Thankfully, I realized how counterproductive this was for everyone involved but especially for my daughter.

When perusing the aisles of the local department store, don’t turn an eye to the “World’s Greatest Dad” gear. Being the “Best Dad” is a relative term. But a good measure of our success as mothers is when our children believe they do indeed have the best dad in the world, regardless of his actual presence.

And in the case where dad is not involved at all, do not assume his role. Just love yourself and your kids in the best way you know how and I promise that will be enough.

You may also like:

Divorce Was Not the End of My World

I Was Better Off Divorced

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Erinne Magee

Erinne is a Maine-based Mom and writer. Her work has appeared in publications like: New York Magazine, Teen Vogue, The Washington Post, Redbook, USA Today, Prevention Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Men's Journal and more. For more, visit: http://www.erinnemagee.com/

Organized Sports Aren’t Everything

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young girl with Alpaca, color photo

Today I watched my little girl walk an alpaca. His name is Captain. Captain is her favorite. He’s my favorite too. I met his owner on Instagram of all places. She thought I was in college; I thought she was a middle-aged woman. Turns out, she is in high school, and I am a middle-aged woman. This random meeting led to a blessing. We call it “llama lessons.” We take llama lessons every other week. It’s an hour away on the cutest hobby farm. Our “teacher” is Flora, who boards her llamas at the alpaca farm. She wants to teach...

Keep Reading

I Had to Learn to Say “I’m Sorry” to My Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mom hugs tween daughter

My two oldest kiddos are at the front end of their teen years. I remember that time in my own life. I was loud, somewhat dramatic, I let my hormones control me, and I never—ever—apologized. This last part was because no one ever really taught me the value of apology or relationship repair. Now, I could do some parent blaming here but let’s be real, if you were a kid whose formative years were scattered between the late ’80s and early ’90s, did you get apologies from your parents? If so, count that blessing! Most parents were still living with...

Keep Reading

5 Things Your Child’s Kindergarten Teacher Wants You To Know

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child raising hand in kindergarten class

I am a teacher. I have committed my life to teaching children. Of course, before I began this career, I had visions of standing in front of a group of eager-eyed children and elaborating on history, science, and math lessons. I couldn’t wait to see the “lightbulb” moments when students finally understood a reading passage or wrote their first paper. And then I had my first day. Children are not cut out of a textbook (shocking, I know) but as a young 23-year-old, it knocked me right off my feet. I was thrown into the lion’s den, better known as...

Keep Reading

To the Extended Family That Shows Up: We Couldn’t Do This Without You

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Family visiting new baby in a hospital room

This picture—my heart all but bursts every time I see it.  It was taken five years ago on the day our daughter was born. In it, my husband is giving her her very first bath while our proud extended family looks on. It was a sweet moment on a hugely special day, but gosh–what was captured in this photo is so much more than that. This photo represents everything I could have ever hoped for my kids: That they would have an extended family who shows up in their lives and loves them so deeply.  That they would have grandparents,...

Keep Reading

You’re Almost Grown, But You’re Always Welcome Back Home

In: Kids, Motherhood
Teen in room studying with computer and smartphone

Dear child, In the days before you could walk or talk, there were times when you would wail—when my rocking and shushing and bouncing were seemingly futile—but it didn’t matter. Each day and night, multiple times, I always picked you up and welcomed you back into my arms. As a toddler and a preschooler, you had some pretty epic meltdowns. There were times when you would thrash and scream, and all I could do was stand by and wait for the storm to blow over. Eventually, you would run to me, and I would welcome you back with a warm embrace....

Keep Reading

No One Warned Me About the Last Baby

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding newborn baby, black-and-white photo

No one warned me about the last baby. When I had my first, my second, and my third, those first years were blurry from sleep deprivation and chaos from juggling multiple itty-bitties. But the last baby? There’s a desperation in that newborn fog to soak it up because there won’t be another. No one warned me about the last baby. Selling the baby swing and donating old toys because we wouldn’t need them crushed me. I cried selling our double jogger and thought my heart would split in two when I dropped off newborn clothes. Throwing out pacifiers and bottles...

Keep Reading

Parents Are Terrible Salespeople for Parenting

In: Kids, Motherhood
Tired mother with coffee cup on table, child sitting next to her

As the years of fertility start to wane, many of my childless peers are confronted with the question, “Should I have kids?” With hesitation, they turn to us parents who, frankly, seem overwhelmingly unhappy. They ask sheepishly, “Is it worth it?” We lift our heads up, bedraggled, bags under our eyes, covered in boogers and sweat and spit up, we mutter, “Of course! It’s so fulfilling!” It’s like asking a hostage if they like their captor. Sure, it’s great. We love them. But our eyes are begging for liberation. Save me, please. I haven’t slept through the night in years....

Keep Reading

Soak in the Moments because Babies Don’t Keep

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Roller coaster photo, color photo

I love marking the moments, the ones that count—making a note and storing them for memory. But I often miss out on them when it comes to our oldest. ⁣ ⁣The day he wanted to be baptized, I was at home with another kiddo who was sick. He called me from church excitedly, emphasizing he was ready and didn’t want to wait. I couldn’t argue with that, so I watched him go underwater through videos my husband and sweet friends in the congregation took. ⁣ ⁣On the day of his fifth-grade graduation, we found ourselves at the pediatrician’s office. Instead...

Keep Reading

Sometimes a Kid Just Needs a Sick Day

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy outside, color photo

My middle son stayed home from school today. He said he was sick. I’m not sure that is the truth. I was lucky enough to have a mom who was an amazing caretaker, especially when you were sick. She pulled out all the stops. A cozy clean space to be, a thermos with ice cold juice by your side, Mrs. Grass’s soup, and Days of Our Lives on the screen while she tidied up the house. It was the best feeling in the world to be home and cozy with my mom when I was sick. It felt cozy and...

Keep Reading

Sometimes We Need Someone to Just Sit With Us in Our Struggle

In: Kids, Motherhood
Sad woman sits on floor, black and white image

Early this morning, I told (yelled is more accurate) my sons to get up with the same furious ferocity I use every morning when I realize they should be ready to go, but are still unconsciously snoozing away. One son lazily said, “I’m up, Mom” (even though he was very much not up). The other son, who typically has no problems getting up, had overslept and immediately freaked out, thinking he would be late to school. He proceeded to have a mini-meltdown from the dark recesses of his bedroom. That overflowed into the hallway where I found him lying face-down,...

Keep Reading