My dad walked out of my life when I’d just started to take my first steps, but I’m glad I had my mother to fulfil two roles in one
June 19, 2022 9:23 am(Updated 9:25 am)
I’m really grateful that my biological father walked out on me and my mum when I was three years old. It’s not the usual approach for a daughter to take – usually they would be heartbroken, resentful and full of hatred.
But when Father’s Day rolls around each year, just like today, I’m reminded of how full and bright my life is without my dad. Not only this, but I think of this annual celebration as an extra chance to thank my mum for everything she has done for me throughout my life – especially because she has taken on the role of both mum and dad for me.
For so many other people around the world, Father’s Day is a day to celebrate dads in all their glory and to thank them for all they have done. From teaching their kids to ride bicycles to providing them with a roof over their head, nagging them over their clothing choices and lending them a house deposit when they’ve flown the nest – dads do so much for their kids, but mine just didn’t. Walking out of my life when I’d just started to take my first steps, my dad left and never looked back – even demanding a DNA test when my mum went through the relevant channels in order to get financial maintenance from him when I was 14. Not once checking in on how I was doing, if I was healthy, happy or doing okay at school.
In 2019 there were around 1.8 million single parents in the UK, with around 90 per cent of these parents being women, reported single parent charity Gingerbread. And like so many of these women, my mum has also taken on the role of two parents, which means I use Father’s Day as an extra opportunity to thank her for everything she has ever done and continues to do for me. Carrying out duties that a father would usually do for their daughter, my mum has stepped up to the plate and proved herself worthy of both titles: moving areas when we couldn’t find a good school, making sure I had everything I could ever want or need, and giving me love in abundance so I didn’t even realise I had a parent missing in my life. Because of the stellar job she has done, when Father’s Day rolls around each year, I’m not sad that I don’t have one.
I’m not “anti-father figure” though, and I don’t think that Father’s Day should necessarily switch the focus from dads to mums. I actually grew up dedicating the day to my grandad, who sadly passed away in the early 2000s. My mum misses my grandad, her dad, so much – and I do too. So each year around Father’s Day, his birthday or Christmas, you’ll find us making things and writing letters for his grave, remembering all the wonderful things about him and watching old home movies – Father’s Day is special for so many and a great way to celebrate other men who have been father figures. From uncles to legal guardians and close family friends – the fatherly figures in our lives deserve to be celebrated.
But aside from celebrating male figures in my family, Father’s Day is a great way to celebrate myself, my mum and just how far we’ve come without my biological dad being in our lives. After he walked out my mum and I experienced numerous struggles – almost homeless and always worrying about the future.
And because of all of this, I’m more grateful for my mum than I ever thought possible. Understanding struggle from a young age and experiencing things that my peers never did, I knew I needed to work hard to forge a life and career for myself, so I could repay my mum somehow. So yes, every Father’s Day will be a day dedicated to my mother – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.