Whether you’re a gay Mama or a gay Papa, sometime in the next few months you will face a holiday for whom there is no one in your family to celebrate. At our house, it’s Father’s Day, so we’ve got awhile to prepare. Gay families are hardly the only kind of family to face this challenge, but that doesn’t make the situation any less troublesome.
No matter how proud and supported your children may feel, at some point in their childhood they will likely be handed a few crayons, some construction paper and the instruction that they create a card for a parent that they don’t have. As a child who had a gender-appropriate parent for every occasion, I can only imagine what this moment might feel like. If you’ve read this column (or my blog) for any length of time you won’t be surprised to find out that I have indeed imagined this scenario many times and in considerable detail. In most iterations, the real punch of the moment comes with the element of surprise.
There sits little Yogi eager for a craft project when suddenly the F word rears it’s ugly head. Father’s Day. He never even saw that one coming. I am certainly projecting all kinds of anxiety on my son that I pray he will never feel (perhaps I can do it for him?), but crazy or not, one thing is certain. When the crayons come his way, I want Yogi to be ready for them. Here’s some ways to do just that.
Make it Your Own
Who ever said that Father’s Day is only for Fathers? Unless your family is totally off the grid (in which case, how are you reading this?) there is no escaping a Hallmark holiday. You can try to pretend it doesn’t exist, but it will be sure to find you. Since avoidance isn’t possible, I suggest finding a way to make that pesky “other” holiday work for your family.
The plan at our house is to take the non-traditional, traditional route. As you might have heard, in the eyes of the law I am the Father of my children and I even have the birth certificates to prove it. Perhaps owing to the fact that I am also an only child, I’ve never been particularly good at sharing. Taken together, these two facts lead to the in my mind obvious conclusion that Mother’s Day is for my wife and Father’s Day is for me. Beginning this year (our oldest is not yet two) we will celebrate Mommy in May and Mama in June. Perhaps Mother’s Day and Mama’s Day? June 17th here I come!
Another idea for couples who actually enjoy sharing holidays would be to use the other holiday to celebrate someone special in your child’s life. This might be another family member like a grandparent or an uncle or it could be an important friend of the family. Whoever it is this should be a person who has a significant relationship with your child and (of course) be game for such an honor.
The world may not be made for our families, but with just a bit of creativity we can make it work for us. I’m looking forward to creating some new traditions at my house! How does your family approach these holidays? Leave your ideas in the comments.