Monday, June 22, 2009

further thoughts on weekends and Father's Day

Another single-dad blogger noted the difficulty of making the transition from full-time dad to soloist for the summer. Such transitions can be full of nuanced emotions — from happy to have some "adult" time to melancholy and downright sad to see the empty bed in the kid's room — and if you're on a schedule like mine, the mini-roller coaster can hit every other week.

It goes without saying that you're always "on duty" when you're a parent. When you're a single parent, that constant sense of duty can be even deeper and thicker. This makes the times when you don't have that responsibility feel like even more of a let-down. The silence of not having the kid there is even louder. The emptiness seems even stranger. The (not) funny part is that it doesn't matter how much I try to pack into those weekends (or weeks for part of the summer); I still end up missing the kid and thinking ahead to what we need to do (or want to do) after she gets back.

This week, I felt melancholy rather than ecstatic when I went to get her. It was Father's Day, and I'd harbored a vague hope that there would be a card or something waiting for me. After all, I'd made a point of helping the kid get a card when Mother's Day was approaching. It didn't seem like too much to expect reciprocation, but I suppose it was. As a friend put it later in the day, there's a reason we aren't still married. And I suppose after all is said and done, if you watch the attention the "holidays" get, Mother's Day is practically sacrosanct, while Father's Day is an excuse for sales on power tools and barbecue.

In any case, Father's Day last year came with the first lost tooth. It came with a picture drawn for me that morning. It came with waffles. It came with the kid really starting to swim. It came with a trip to my Dad's for grilling out. Somehow, it all seemed more auspicious. We certainly had fun this year — playing and grilling at the pool with friends and family — but on balance it felt a little more melancholy.

I'm not really sure what grand point I'm trying to get to here. It could a rant about the way fathers are often seen as secondary parents, while mothers are revered. It could be a rant about the dynamics of divorce and custody. It could be another deep exploration of the ups and downs we go through as single parents — even when the rest of life seems pretty fortunate and good. Or it could be another entry in a blog that is partly an exploration of all of those things. It could also be just another acknowledgement that even great times come with mixed emotions.

Melancholy aside... Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!