A Single Mother’s Father’s Day—by Jamie Levine

I am a very fortunate single mother by choice because I have an amazing father who is a significant presence in my daughter’s life. Jayda’s Poppy Jack—whom my sassy six-year-old now simply calls “Jack” (a name which he happily accepts because as long as she’s addressing him, he’s thrilled)—loves Jayda so ridiculously much that he insists on being a part of every event in her life—from watching my daughter’s ice skating lessons and field day games to being her Barbie doll and hair salon playmate to driving her to the ER at midnight when she’s been sick and I needed an extra set of hands and support. Thus, Jayda’s never lacked a positive male role model in her life for a single moment. Nor have I for that matter. And I’ve never sweated over Father’s Day like other single mothers because I’ve always known that my daughter and I have someone with whom to celebrate.

This year was no different. But what is different is that Jayda is finally starting to understand that some day she may have her own father if I ever get married. She never understood that concept before. And lately she has been telling me she wants me to have a boyfriend. I have been dating a variety of men for years—but Jayda doesn’t know that—so her new interest in my love life is surprising. I’m not sure if she suddenly wants to have a father or not…and she hasn’t been saying so. But when Jayda brought home her Father’s Day project from school last week, she blurted out, “Mommy, next year, if you got married, I would have a problem on Father’s Day.” Knowing very well that I won’t be married next year—as I’m not even dating anyone very seriously right now—I remarked, “Really? Well, tell me about it, and we’ll work it out…”
Jayda responded, “I don’t think my teacher would let me make two projects…”
“Two projects?”
“One for my new dad. And one for Jack.”

Oddly enough, after this episode, Father’s Day came and went without any mention of a future husband for me—or even a boyfriend. Jayda excitedly shook Poppy Jack awake at 6:30 a.m. to give him his card and gift (as well as my card, too, which she insisted on presenting to him, as well), and after spending an hour at the gym daycare while I worked out, and enjoying a long brunch with Jack and the rest of our family, Jayda spent most of the day with me. I took her on a bike ride to the playground, I played with her, I made her dinner, I gave her a shower, I combed her hair, I read to her, I helped her pick out her clothes for school, I brushed her teeth, and I put her to bed. I also got angry with her, I told her not to lie to me, I disciplined her, and I told her that I would always love her, but that I didn’t like how she was acting and that I was disappointed in her. I did what mommies do. And I did what daddies do. Because that’s what I do. Every day…and every night.

I’m so grateful to have an amazing father in my life. And even more importantly, to have him in Jayda’s life. And maybe someday, there will be another man in my life who will try to follow in Jack’s footsteps. But in the meantime, Jayda and I are doing just fine. And we don’t need just one special day to celebrate that.