Yesterday was Father’s Day and I, for one, am glad it’s over. I normally feel the same on other ‘special’ days … like Mother’s Day and my late Mum’s birthday. These days are designed to celebrate but for those of us who have experienced loss, in whatever form, they are only designed to highlight that someone is no longer in your life.
My youngest son doesn’t see his father … it’s complicated, as these things often are, and all I’ll say is that it’s for the best. But Father’s Day is incredibly hard for him and, as the parent left behind, consequently for me.
What it does mean, however, is that I am not only a mother to Dexter … but also a father. In fact, I’m pretty much everything to him and that’s a whole lot of responsibility. So when Father’s Day comes round, I do my best to show him that as much as ‘our situation’ is far from perfect, he will be OK. I do my best because that’s pretty much all I know how to do.
We started the day as most weekends should be started … with a big fry-up and Sherlock on Netflix. It was lovely actually as my eldest is home from Uni and so the 3 of us sat on the sofa and over-indulged in eggs, bacon AND sausages. We then drove my eldest to work and stopped at the cinema on the way home to watch Maleficent. (As an aside, it’s a great film if you get the chance to watch it – don’t be put off by a) Angelina Jolie being in it, she was great and b) it being ‘too Disney’ … bearing in mind there wasn’t a Transformer in sight, it had mine AND Dexter’s attention for the duration – nigh on impossible normally as I always fall asleep.)
Dexter normally likes to play PS3 on a Sunday afternoon if we’re at home, he doesn’t really spend that much time with me. And I understand. His PS3 is his equivalent of going out to play with his mates … they’re all online and none of his friends live near us and so it’s the modern day version. It’s not ideal. But yesterday was different. He didn’t want to leave my side … and I can totally understand that. I know what it’s like to lose a parent, to not have a parent in my life, and you just want to be around the family you still have left. However, in my case, I rarely see my Dad – he has a new life with a new family and unfortunately that doesn’t seem to include me and my boys and I really struggle with that. I love my Dad, and I’d love for him to want to spend time with us, but we’re not on his radar anymore. So I also know what it’s like to have a parent but for that parent not to want to be in your life … so Dexter and I can relate to each other. We have that horrible thing in common.
We chilled on my bed watching Harry Potter and The Cube on TV. We found a random yellow balloon and played keepy uppy (still sat on the bed) for hours with Dexter changing the rules as we went on just so there was no chance at all of him ever losing. We ate Dim Sum and fruit in bed.
And then he started to cry. I knew it was coming. He’d been so, so brave. I don’t know what sparked it particularly, but I think it had been a build up of the pressure of the day. A day designed to highlight loss as much as to celebrate family.
“Who will look after you when I leave home Mum? I don’t want you to be on your own forever. It makes me so sad.”
“Son, you’re 10, you shouldn’t be worrying about things like that. I will always be OK.”
“But you look after me … but don’t have anyone to look after you.”
This concept made him cry that little bit harder.
“Dexter, I don’t need anyone to look after me. I promise you I will always be OK. Plus, you’ll never get rid of me … I’ll always be knocking at your door so you and your wife can make me dinner.”
This made him laugh … the thought of me as a little old lady, knocking on the door of his family’s home.
He’s a born worrier and it’s my job to try and laugh him out of situations as best as I can. It’s also my job to console, to encourage, to comfort. To allay his fears. To tell him everything will be OK, even when I’m not sure it will be.
It’s my job to love him as much as 2 parents.
And I do it because I know what it’s like to not have a parent. To not be loved. To feel like there is a massive void in your life … so I spend every day filling that hole with my stupid jokes, my silly faces, my willingness to always watch Harry Potter when he feels sad.
It’s what lone parents do. We love twice as hard.