Can we do away with the Daddy/Daughter dances already?
While we’re at it, Muffins with Moms and Donuts with Dads can go too.
Full transparency here: My children‘s father passed away unexpectedly last year and maybe it’s made me less tolerant of weird societal pressures. I’m ok with it.
Nothing will make your heart ache as much as seeing children grieve. For us this past year, as I’ve watched my children mourn the loss of their father, I’ve become increasingly aware of the programs and events that make my kids feel left out. Different. Less than.
On Thursday, I invited myself to Donuts with Dads at my son’s preschool because: newsflash, he doesn’t have one. The very idea of being there makes me want to curl up in bed and cry. Having to sit amongst a room full of fathers and make awkward conversation does not seem like my idea of a good time. I gave my son the option of staying home with me or having me go with him and he chose the latter. So I go. For him, to advocate and to help him feel a little less left out. He’s five, and still thinks Mom is cool. In a couple years, having his Mom show up for Donuts with Dad day is going to be just way too weird though.
The thing is, we all know my kids aren’t the only ones. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 19.7 million children, more than 1 in 4, live without a father in the home. (source)
There are children without one or both parents in every single school in this country. Why are we holding tightly to things that cause sadness in children? As adults we have tools and language to compartmentalize a little better, but I’ll never forget the look on my 2nd grader’s face when he recounted a conversation from school earlier that day. “Mom,” he said. “No one else in my class has a Daddy who died. NO ONE.” He hadn’t yet realized just how unusual his situation was. Unfortunately, the learning process began rather quickly after that.
Maybe schools pick a night, a day or a morning to celebrate caregivers of all kinds and show appreciation to whomever is at home filling the role of parent. Maybe we can try a little harder to stop separating our children into the haves and have nots. Maybe we can agree to seek inclusivity for the tenderest of hearts. I know our family would appreciate it and I have to imagine we aren’t the only ones.