A reminder to my boy that his father is not in his life.
Reminders everywhere. School. This year, my boy’s class has been preparing. For weeks.
Weeks of reminders. Of what a ‘family’ should be.
A smiling happy family in a Bunnings advertisement.
If it’s not, there’s something wrong. With you. With your family. Ironic as there are so many families with two mums at my boy’s school. How do those children feel? Like they are not normal.
They’re not allowed to be normal. Our Education Minister banned the film Gayby Baby from being shown in schools. The trailer looks amazing. Sums it up. ‘Family’ life today.
More than 60% of families in Australia are single-parent families. More than half. So that’s a lot of kids not living with their mum and dad.
Yet despite the array of family structures that now exist, the Western world keeps up this façade. The smiling family on the Bunnings ad.
Mother’s Day can bring the same mixed emotions. I know a few kids who have lost their mums to cancer. Or just lost their mums. Mother’s Day is a reminder. A reminder of what they don’t have.
‘I want to write a letter to my dad,’ says my boy. I smile. ‘Sure, hon, what do you want to say?’ Inside I die a little.
His dad. The dad that has never paid a cent towards his well-being.
The dad that never asks to see him.
The dad who last bought his son a birthday present when he was one year old.
The dad that has forgotten his birthday ever since.
The dad that walked straight past his son in the supermarket less than a year ago.
I look into my boy’s big brown eyes. His innocence. His purity. His vulnerability. His desire to belong.
‘I want to tell my dad about my holiday to Vietnam.’
‘Ok, l’ll get some paper.’
I die a bit more inside. I don’t want him to hurt. To feel rejection. Or abandonment. It’s not his fault. It’s not his fault we’re not a smiling Bunnings advertisement.
I talk to my boy about all the types of families in the world. The ones with one parent, with two mums, two dads, step families, extended families.
And the families you create yourself. Your friend family. That powerful network that carries you through the good times and the bad.
I tell him a family is a place you feel loved and safe. It doesn’t matter who is in it. It’s a feeling. It’s a connection.
So I deal with my mixed emotions on this day the way I deal with things I struggle with. I cook. I write.
My man’s boy is living with us for a while. I want to make it special. My man makes many of my days special. Many of my boy’s days special, too.
I appreciate him. Every day. Good people should be celebrated every day.
I’ve been cooking for two days. The theme is Indian Street Fair. I’ve used spices I didn’t know existed. I’ve been consumed in new concoctions, methods and ingredients. It’s absorbing.
I lash out in my diary. Write out my pain. Unleash my anger. Silent tears of frustration.
Today I am sharing my feast, my creation with the people I love. My boy, my man, his boy, our lovely friends. I’m going to fill their bellies with good, wholesome and delicious food. Nourish them.
I want them to feel loved. Cherished. Satisfied. Full.
We will celebrate us.
Not an imaginary figure. Today will not be about an ideal so many people can never reach.
It will be real.
It will be Appreciation and Respect day.
Because we could all do with more of that.