One Mother’s Day, years ago now, I was told I was a crap mother. The fact that it was said on that day, and that it was said by the father of my children (who was having a bad time of it I’ll admit with lashings of hindsight forgiveness), poisoned the barb as it thrust into my heart.
I’m over it now – obviously – but I was thinking about it yesterday as I pondered the role of Dads on Mother’s Day. I think they do have one, I don’t think it’s a day for them to get on with the paper and a spot of fishing whilst the womb fruit pamper Mum with botched bacon and eggs and homemade pressies. And the fact that so many Dads literally don’t rise to the challenge irritates the hell out of me.
None more so that the divorced/separated/bitter Dads who seem to have forgotten the huge role their ex has played in raising their children. If you really want to wound a woman so completely that recovery is slow and painful, then completely diminish all that she has sacrificed, and given to raise the children.
My heart heaved as I read a friend’s blog post last night in which she explained how Mother’s Day for her would be a painful one as her children have been ordered by the Family Court to live intestate with their father, and she would most likely not see them on the day itself. What’s more the weekend mail had already been and in it was sweet-nothing. No homemade cards, no pictures..nothing at all.
For my dear blogging friend who has been through so much and tried so valiantly to fight the rubbish that’s been hurled into her life, for the sake of her children, this is beyond painful. I’ve got to ask – where is the father in all this? Why couldn’t he remember to get the kids’ cards into the mail? Or send some flowers? Or something?
And what message does this send to the children themselves? This absolute dishonouring of their mother? Apart from being appalling parenting, it’s an equally dismal role model for the kids.
I know what it feels like to be so shamed, as I said above, I’ve been there.
I’ve been known to grab kids by the scruff and march them off to M&S to grab a ready meal so their poor single Mum didn’t have to make a meal on Mother’s Day, and to volunteer to take another widow’s daughter out to buy a Mother’s Day card and a gift, because I know what it’s like.
Of course there are many, many great Dads who manage to rustle up the kids at grumpy o’clock and oversee burnt toast and weak tea and who preside kindly over last minute trips to the shops to get Mum a card. Thousands of Dads, Step-dads and Dad-figures who step into the breech and help disorganised kids stretch their paper round money so Mum can have a bunch of flowers or a cute card that they’ll sign in coloured pencil
Those Dads! We LOVE them.
We love those Dads who despite the bickering between them and their ex-wives can see the commitment, love and care that have helped their children flourish, and are prepared to honour that. Those good men who are able to put their anger and bitterness aside and put their kids’ needs first.
And those Step-Dads who step in and help the kids treat Mum on Mother’s Day, they too are good men.
For just as every family, whatever their makeup – whether married, divorced, estranged or together-but-bitchy – needs support to grow great children, so too do they need time to reflect on and honour the roles of father and mother – whoever plays them.