Friday, June 13, 2008

happy father's day, MOM

I was 10 years old and it was the last week of school. The Sunday after the last day of school just so happened to be Father's Day. Final grades were already turned it, so the last week of school was all fluff and nothing academic. So my teacher made us create Father's Day cards as 'art.'

With my father having passed away 8 years ago, I didn't have a father to give my Father's Day card to. As everyone started to paint and glue and draw, I sat in my desk, idle and numb. Suddenly, I had a thought. I'll make a card for my mom instead. After all, she was the person in my life that I looked up to. She was both my father and mother as she was raising me on her own. She deserves two celebrations: Mother's and Father's Days.

Determined in what I wanted to do, I went over to the teacher's desk and asked her in a whisper, "Can I make my card for my mom instead?" Understandingly, she replied, "Yes, of course. That's a great idea."

Happily, I returned to my seat and proceeded to create my masterpiece. As I was putting the finishing touches on the front of my card (which boldly read, "Happy Father's Day, MOM"), a bully in my class came over to see what I was doing. His parents knew my mom very well and he was well aware that my father had died. But that didn't stop him from saying out loud to the whole class, "Happy Father's Day, mom? That's dumb. Father's day is for fathers, not mothers. You're so stupid."

I remember this moment quite vividly. The way my heart broke. How my excitement in making my mom happy changed to sadness over my father's absence immediately. The way my face flushed red by being called out as a fatherless child in front of my classmates. I became upset and started to cry. The teacher gave me permission to run to the bathroom, where my bawling continued.

Ten years later and nearly 28 years after my father's passing, Father's Day hurts a little less but it still hurts. Instead I focus on my mom and the endless sacrifices she made so that I could have a relatively normal childhood. I wish I had known my father. But I've got an amazing mom that almost makes up for his absence.

Because of this, I've realized that fathers come in many different forms. Sometimes they are the much wiser older brother. Sometimes they are the uncle who raised you or the grandfather who made sure you never went without. Or maybe they're the family friend who taught you how to ride a bike and then took you to get your drivers' license. Whoever your father is don't forget to remember him this Sunday. A phone call and an "I love you" can go a long way.

As for me on Sunday? I'll be telling my mom that she's the best dad a girl could ever have.


lacochran said...

Brilliant post! Your mom is lucky to have you, too!

Mme. Meow said...

That's lovely, Lizzie. I feel very similarly to you, and agree.

(And that bully deserved many nasty things coming his way.)

Anonymous said...

Excellent post!

I found a great site called that carries things with this sentiment

Raised like you were I thought it was a great message