Bracing for Impact:: My First Father’s Day with My Fatherless Son


Bracing for impact – it’s something I do everyday since my ex walked out of my son’s and my life.

I do it in the grocery store where I get the sympathetic glance from an older woman as I try to juggle my son’s carrier, my grocery list, and the 100 other things in my hands, and her eyes automatically glance towards my ringless left hand. Nope, nothing there.

I do it when we sit in the doctor’s office and someone, whether it be a doctor or nurse, inevitably asks “Will dad be joining us?” Nope, it’s just me.

I do it when I sit down to pay bills and balance my checking account at the end of the month. It would be really nice to share some of this financial responsibility with someone.

I do it when I look at my sweet seven month old boy and wonder who is going to teach him to throw a football and shave his facial hair and drive stick shift. I can’t do any of those things.

I do it in the middle of the night, when the crying starts and I know there isn’t another parent to sayIt’s your turn,” to.

If I’m being honest, I spend most of my life preparing for the looks of disappointment, the uncomfortable conversations, the feelings of failure, and the sorrow that comes with knowing that my son will grow up without a father. It’s one of those things that once you think about it, you realize how apparent it is in your everyday life. In all of these cases, I stiffen a little. I mentally prepare for the wave of emotion that will follow the encounter. I harden my heart just a bit more every time.

This wasn’t part of the plan for his life. He was supposed to know the unconditional love of two parents. He was supposed to be raised in a home where he saw a healthy relationship and commitment every single day. Even when the relationship between his “father” and I failed, he was still supposed to know both of our love, just separately. It was all supposed to be different.

Instead, he just has me. 

So here we are. I am hurriedly walking past the Father’s Day displays in every store we walk into and scrolling quickly past all the adorable first father’s day ideas on social media. I am leaning on the other men in my life to be that male role model that I will not be able to give him as he grows up. Thank goodness for amazing grandparents and uncles. I am already preparing for the difficult conversations that I will have to have with him as he gets older and wonders why his family looks so different than most.

And, truthfully, it sucks.

Deep down, I know we are both better off just the two of us. Deep down, I know that even though I feel so alone in this journey, it’s not uncommon to raise a fatherless son. Deep down, I know that Father’s Day will pass and life will go on and one day my son will understand why things turned out the way the did.

But, today, I am bracing for impact yet again because there is nothing easy about spending your first father’s day with a fatherless son.

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Kelsey is the single momma to the light of her life, Asher Robert. She is a proud Marquette graduate, works for MU's alumni engagement office and is a part-time MBA candidate. She lives in downtown Milwaukee, but calls CHW her home away from home as she navigates the world of raising a special needs, medically complex child. She is a firm believer that all things can be cured by Ben and Jerry's ice cream, a good glass of pinot noir and long chats with her mom.


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