Father’s Days After a Husband Has Died

My son recently asked me the question I have been WAITING for one of my children to ask for years.

“Mom, how come you get a Mother’s Day and we don’t get a day?”

Haven’t you been waiting all of your adult life to answer that question just like your parents did?

“Because every day is Kid’s Day.”

I never understood that as a child, but now as the mom of three small children, I wish I had a tattoo across my forehead that said it.  I would be a hit at Chuck E. Cheese.

Have you ever noticed how Father’s Day tends to be the day that the dads get to take off and go play golf or something that is decidedly away from the rest of the family?  And that Mother’s Day seems to involve a lot of family bonding and yard work?  How exactly did that happen?

It confirms my belief that these two holidays were invented by a card company to increase sales and that that card company was run by a man.  Probably the brother of the guy who invented pantyhose.  Otherwise, Father’s Day would be in May–just in time for spring clean up.  And Mother’s Day would be in June–the perfect weather for laying by the pool and sipping frozen alcoholic beverages.

I guess we moms should count ourselves lucky that Mother’s Day doesn’t fall on “National Clean Out Your Pantry Day” or something.

I was strangely oblivious to how hard Mother’s Day would be the first year my husband was gone.  I knew Father’s Day would be hard, but my husband was never big on spoiling me for Mother’s Day.  It took 5 years of very strong hints for him to realize–I didn’t want to be with any of them on Mother’s Day.  I wanted a break.

I know that sounds terrible, but you were thinking it too.

I always knew that Father’s Day would be a heart-wrenching day to get through and I’ve gotten used to the feeling of dread that hits at the beginning of June.  I’ve made all of my kids’ teachers aware of the fact that my husband is no longer with us, so all of the Father’s Day crafts have the name Pop written on them and are bestowed upon my dad when we go over and pay homage.

In the last three years, we’ve gotten into a routine on Father’s Day that includes going up to the mountains (where my husband’s ashes are buried) and releasing balloons.  Last year’s balloon release hit a little snag when, as I was putting the three balloons (one for each child) in the back of my minivan, a huge gust of wind came along and blew one out.  This sent me into such a panic that I quickly slammed the hatch shut, popping a second one.  I managed to convince my crying children that one balloon was enough, and Daddy would know that it was a family balloon.

I’m envisioning at least two extra years of therapy for my kids due to the Father’s Day Balloon Incident of 2009.

This year, my kids have been planning to write notes to Dad and send them up with the balloons.  They have been asking me over and over if it’s okay.  This has started to make me nervous that the notes might say something like, “Help!  This woman doesn’t know what she’s doing and we may be on the verge of juvenile delinquency!”

Anyway, I was kind of surprised at the depths of my sorrow on my first Mother’s Day without him.  That was when it occurred to me that there was no one here to remember the 200 hours of labor I went through to bring three children into the world.  That even though my parents had been around to greet the kids when they finally made their appearance, my husband was really the only one who was there.

He may have been slightly hungover for the first one, but he was present.  And he may have almost missed the second one, but he made it.  And he was the one who was sitting beside me at church the third time around, when my water broke and we decided to go to brunch before the hospital because we knew we wouldn’t be fed for awhile.

It hit me that these memories weren’t ours anymore, they were mine.  That’s a big concept to swallow.  I am fortunate that my kids, even though they are young, get unreasonably excited about Mother’s Day.  They start planning well in advance the things they are going to do for me.  Last year, I figured out that they were planning on bringing me breakfast in bed, and I quickly went out and bought a donut for myself so they could pamper me in the way they saw fit.  I just had visions of my 4-year-old trying to navigate the stairs with a full bowl of Cheerios and milk.

After three years of widowed Mother’s Days, I’ve gotten used to being “spoiled” by my kids and not having the anticipation of a special treat from my significant other.  They were rare, but I always lived in hope.  Hope of a surprise pedicure appointment.  Hope that he would say, “You deserve a break.  Why don’t you go to the movies?”  Hope that he would just take the kids out of the house and leave me in peace for 10 minutes.

I will say, though, that I kind of miss not having anyone around to ask, “You didn’t get me anything for Mother’s Day?”

Wait, now that I think about it, maybe that was his gift.  Because there’s nothing a mother likes more than a good guilt trip.

That sneaky devil.

Catherine Tidd 2010

Catherine Tidd

More Articles Written by Catherine

Catherine Tidd is a widow and the Founder of www.theWiddahood.com, a free social support network dedicated to anyone who has lost a significant other. She is also a writer, public speaker, and mother to three young entertaining children. She received a degree in English from Rollins College in 1998 and has since worked as a writer, editor, Marketing Manager, and Event Planner. Originally from Louisiana, Ms. Tidd currently lives in Denver, CO. To read more of Catherine's work, visit http://widowchick.blogspot.com


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  • Mrs Hulya Santini says:

    Catherine you make me laugh as I read your theory why we have mother’s and father’s day because my other significnat half said the same thing that is scoop to make us but cards to sell cards.

    I dread the frirst father’s day for the children and me without him. I bought one card for him and we are going to buy ballons tomorrow for his … We have two children, a girl and a boy, the eldest is my daughter she is a gem and so like her dad and my boy looks like him.

    I always going to be married to my husband and father’s day is/was always celebrated just like mother’s day but we do not buy cards but make it with a breakfast in bed. That is it! For my husband to celebrate mother’s day was at the beginning normal after my second child five years later, he tried to abolish the card trade,,,. but I told him why would he miss the opportunity to get a proper day off and the kids have to slave( doing chores) for him. Let me tell you, he saw sense in these words and yes the kids have slaved(baking cakes and making him cappucinos) out of love!

    Everything you wrote I totally can relate but my children remember their Dad so clear a hero a father and their protector. The wound are fresh and this father’s day is going to be a killer.

    This is my first time looking into the sit.



  • Tinabou says:

    My husband passed away from cancer 2 days before this past fathers day. Without any foresight (because I was/am still living a blurr) I packed the kids (8,10 and 13) up and went off to church hoping for some semblance of spiritual light that might help me make it through another day. We got through sacrament and I watched one of the 10 year old kids walk up to the front when it finally hit me…”Oh oh – BAD mistake, now we’re going to hear all about how wonderful fathers are!”. We made it about 7 more minutes before I realized I couldn’t have possibly been more insensitive to the kids (and my) feelings. All 3 of them were sobbing, as was I. I vowed I was not returning until I was more stable. Like THAT’s going to be any time soon.

    Our history with those two occasions is spotted with bits of resentment. In the 15 years we were together (married almost 13) he only acknowledged the first one – we didn’t even have kids, I had a cat and a dog and he gave me a card from them. This past mothers day he was waiting for hip surgery in the hospital and said nothing until the end of the day, when I told him a friend of mine had wished me a happy mothers day. His response was “I would have too, but you are not my mother”. Sounds crass, but actually it was a somewhat lighthearted comment, we both laughed – although mine was a bit forced. I remembered thinking “he better damn well make it to fathers day”. He didn’t. and to boot, this was the year my birthday fell on fathers day.

    It was actually the best birthday I’ve had in my adult life. ALL my in-laws came together and got me a cake and helped my kids pick out birthday presents for me(because they were all here waiting for the funeral) – another thing my husband was never too keen on.

    Now that it sounds like he was such a toad – he wasn’t really. He just didn’t buy into those kinds of celebrations. I used to joke with himm that he was probably meant to be Jehovah’s Witness.

    Anyway, here I am at the 1 week and 1 day mark – which I managed to get through mostly with medicinal help. I am dreading these milestones for the next few years – all 3…mothers day, fathers day AND my birthday. In the meantime all I can do is hope the next chapter of my life brings something really good to make up for the triple whammy I have just gone through.

    • Tinabou…

      My husband was the same way! I think the superior attitude towards the holidays was just his way of covering up his own procrastination. And just when I’d just about had it…he’d get me something really good. Always kept me on my toes!

      I am so sorry that this is so new for you. Church is STILL rough for me and it’s been 3 years. We hardly ever go because I just sit there and cry…I don’t know why. In most areas of my life, I feel like I’ve finally gotten a grip…but not there! A pastor that helped me a lot after my husband died told me once that after HER husband died she didn’t go to church for 4 years. I just posted something on the Widow Chick Facebook page about what things have been unexpectedly hard, and church was a biggie. Give yourself time…it’s hard to not try and rush into everything that kept our lives normal before now that things have been turned upside down.

      I’m so glad you had a good birthday! And I’m so glad you took it for what it was…a good day. They do still happen!

      Thinking of you….