It’s graduation season and a time of great celebration. But for single mothers who have carried the full load of parenting, this can be a time of mixed emotions. A friend of mine text me and two other moms to share her joy at her daughter graduating high school. My friend is a single mother. She was so filled with joy, pride and relief. She was about to watch her daughter go from girl to a young woman heading to college.
However she mentioned that there were several other single mothers who weren’t too happy before the graduation ceremony because they have to tolerate the sight of their kids’ fathers on this special day. On a day that celebrates the wonderful achievements of their children, these women are upset that their children’s fathers are allowed to sit and equally enjoy this moment when these fathers didn’t equally share in the work. According to my friend, these single mothers felt like they got their kids to the finish line and now they have to share this pivotal moment with these court-order daddies who did nothing. They paid nothing on time, came to no games, not one parent-teacher conference, and the moms are sitting there looking at them like, “Now you want to show up for graduation!”
First of all, this day is about the child, the graduate, who has had to overcome the strained relationship of his or her parents, along with the pressures of high school, to make it to the graduation stage. This is the time to focus on the kid and celebrate his or her achievements. It’s also a time for the single mother and custodial parent to also celebrate her accomplishments. Successfully getting her child to this level and ushering him or her into the next phase of life is no small matter. She should be very proud of her child and herself. This is a time of great joy and celebration, not drama.
If there are still unresolved issues with the child’s father, this is no time to embrace the hate. Let it all go today. Dwelling on issues of the past with this man only makes him more important today than he should be. The focus shouldn’t be on him but on the child you nurtured into adulthood. Have lingering issues? Get help, counseling. Seek therapy; so this man can stop living rent free in your head and holding your heart and emotions hostage.
At this moment, the moms must make a serious choice: You can’t be mad and glad at the same time. You’ve got to choose a dominate emotion and go with it. Just be careful which one you allow to dominate. Choose to be happy. You’ll be glad you did.