Moms, No Matter How Hard You Try, You Will Never be Dads

I came across this meme on Facebook and it instantly made me hot under the collar. I don’t normally anger easily, so it took me a moment to figure out why it hit a nerve.AA

First, you should know that I am not a single mother, but I was raised by one and that’s the point of view I’m writing from today. As a child of multiple divorces, this meme totally pissed me off. Why? Because no matter how hard moms try, they will never ever be dads.

When my dad exited stage left, my mom gained a ton of new responsibilities that she had to tackle without support. She had to go to work full time and make ends meet when child support cheques were sporadic. She had to find us a place to live and feed us on a tight budget. She had to look after me and ensure I still had a childhood. She had to nurse her broken heart and try to put her life back together. Her job description expanded exponentially. But, she never became my dad. She couldn’t.

Implying that my mother could become mother and father, would have negated my need for a father, negated the gaping hole his absence left in my life. There was a hole. There is a hole. And that hole was impossible for my mom to fill. She was a good mom, but never for a moment did that make up for the fact that my dad left us. I’m glad she didn’t have the outlook conveyed in this meme. I’m glad she recognized that she couldn’t be my dad and that instead she strove to be the best mom she could be.

Dads own a special dynamic within the parent/child relationship. I’ve watched my own children with their dad, like one watches a wildlife documentary, thinking, “So this is how it would have been to have an attentive father.” I could never replace him in their lives.

I have other family members who were raised without their father—they’re all the same, they want to know their dad. They desire a relationship with him no matter how much of a douchebag he’s been. If moms could take the place of dads, no one would feel that way. And yet we do.

Hats off to all you moms out there going it alone. I remember my mother’s tears, her exhaustion, her frustration, her quest to give me the best of everything even though she was suffering. Be a great mom. But, don’t be a dad. That’s something that will just be missing. It always will be missing, even if you don’t want it to be. If you can recognize the loss and stop pretending that everything is a-okay, everyone concerned can heal, learn how to move forward and learn how to live each day without Dad. It hurts. It just does. 

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Nobody Wants to Hear About My #Failures, or Do They?

IMG_20150502_162838Over the past few days I’ve had a couple of new, stretching experiences that I count as successes.

On Saturday, I participated in Authors for Indies day, a campaign to support and champion independent bookstores. As a guest salesperson at McNally Robinson Booksellers, it was my job to help connect customers with great books. I was super nervous coming up to it because I’m not much of a salesperson and I do have trouble walking up to people and initiating conversations. IMG_20150504_141632316_HDRStationed in the children’s books section, I had the opportunity to connect with a couple teachers, a librarian and some young readers and their parents. I had a great time and will definitely sign up to do it again next year.

On Monday, I had my first radio interview. I was so nervous coming up to it that I almost ended up in tears. Some stern self-talk kept me from slipping over the edge. The interview was on a Winnipeg radio station, IMG_20150504_135829453680 CJOB on the Dahlia Kurtz show. I came prepared to talk about different aspects of my book from the writing process, the struggle to get published to Enslavement’s theme of dehumanization and how the idea for the book came to me. The interviewer immediately put me at ease and though I could feel my hands shaking, I got through the interview. If you’re curious, click here for a listen: https://soundcloud.com/680cjob/melinda-friesen?in=680cjob/sets/dahlia-kurtz

Both of these opportunities were exciting. I pumped them up on my social media sites. But, yesterday I took a moment to go over my SM posts and it struck me how I’m trumpeting my successes, but silent about my failures. Do people want to hear about my failures? Do they want to hear how I’m struggling through my most recent edit? Will it come off as whining or as me being real with my readers?

Rejection ScreenshotFor the first time in a long time, I opened up an email file called “Queries.” It’s a positive name for a file full of rejections. I didn’t bother counting. There are a lot and I got weary of scrolling through all the rejections I’ve received for my novels and short stories–and that file doesn’t even include old rejections I didn’t transfer to my new computer, hard copies that were mailed instead of emailed and those who just never bothered to get back to me. I suppose I want my readers to know that I trumpet the successes, but behind the scenes there are at least 40 failures for every small victory.

I want to focus on the positive because focusing on the negative would drown me. But, I admit, it makes my life sound idyllic. Look at me living the dream while you suffer failure after failure, which simply is not true. This is a tough road, no, it’s not even a road–it’s a jungle you hack your way through inch by inch.

What do you think? Do you want to hear more about others’ failures? Does hearing about failure make you feel like you’re not alone, or does it make you feel hopeless? Does hearing about the successes make you feel envious or does it give you hope? Where is the balance between the two?