In case you missed the memo, I’m a single parent.
I was (briefly) married. And now I’m not.
Of course, there’s a story that goes in the middle of those two sentences, but it’s one of those tales that’s oh-so-familiar to many of us, and it certainly isn’t blog fodder. And to an extent – it’s ancient history. I have been divorced since 2007.
Five years down the line, my ex and I are very different people.
For example, since we split up my ex-husband has completed three Masters degrees, just for fun. Recently, he wrote a 10,000 word dissertation on whether it’s rational to be afraid of death.
Since our divorce I’ve watched every episode of Gossip Girl and Gilmore Girls, and written a lot of questionable blog posts about things like accidentally flashing the local headmaster, and singing songs about masturbation in the supermarket.
Like I said, we’re very different people.
But this weekend is Father’s Day and while my ex isn’t tethered to me these days, he’s still a big part of our daughter’s life – and rightly so. I’m not one of those people who wants to cut their former partner out of the family.
I tend to think that Flea has a Dad and it’s part of my job as a parent to protect that relationship as far as I’m able. I know some women remarry five minutes after the ink on the divorce papers is dry and more power to you, if it makes you happy – but it doesn’t feel like the right thing for us. I spent much of my childhood in foster care, and I want Flea to grow up in a family that feels secure, and permanent, even if we’re not all under the same roof. So her Dad is important.
Having said that, I’m not so evolved that the issue of Father’s Day doesn’t bring some headaches. I mean, what’s the etiquette on Father’s Day presents when you’re divorced? Do I buy something and write Flea’s name on it? Should I give Flea some money to choose something herself? Would it really be so wrong to let Flea buy her Dad that ‘Wonder Woman’ t-shirt she’s set her heart on? Would a good Mum spend Father’s Day with her ex? Help make the card? How far do you go?
I’ve always rabbited on that it’s really important for Flea to understand about buying gifts, and the importance of choosing something nice for someone she loves, but I do get a bit itchy and uncomfortable when it comes to choosing what sort of socks my ex-husband might like, or which novel he might enjoy. It feels – intimate – somehow. Which isn’t really a word I think either of us want to associate with our relationship these days.
When you’re a single Mum you’re also basically footing the bill for any gifting that goes on, which means buying your ex-husband a present. Honestly? It’s a far, far better person than me that doesn’t begrudge that – just a little bit.
So – I need advice. Do I suck it up, and buy a present? Send an e-card? Or get Flea to make something artistic and present that on Sunday instead? What do other single parents do on special occasions like these? I’d love to know.