I will never forget the day last year, when I watched my 7-year-old daughter walk out of her elementary school building, tears streaming from her eyes as she thrust a brightly colored piece of paper into my hands.
“It’s a pizza party for kids and dads,” she told me, before wiping her tear-stained cheeks with the back of her hand. “The teacher said it was for kids to get to spend some time with their dads.”
Taking the paper in my hands and smoothing out the wrinkles, I scanned the flier. My eyes settled on phrases like, “it’s important for children to have a strong role model they can learn to count on,” and “it gives kids important bonding time with their dads.” Then, suddenly I began to feel my own eyes welling up with tears.
My child does not have a dad. I’ve been an “only parent” for the last four years now, and in that time I have watched my daughter struggle with the fact that she does not have a father in more ways than I could possibly count. Parenting is hard work, and it becomes even harder when you’re up against statistics that tell you fatherless children are more likely to end up pregnant, in jail, or addicted to drugs than in a positive, healthy, happy life. Because of that, I’ve always done my best to find her a stand-in dad for things such as the Daddy-Daughter Dance, and yes, even that pizza party for kids and their dads, because it’s important to me that she isn’t left out. Yet I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I can’t help feeling like she knows that she still doesn’t have what other kids have, and that she is just politely enjoying her consolation prize. So when she brings up the fact that she only has me, I try my best to assure her that I’m enough, and I am willing to be both mom and dad for her in every way that I can.
But last Thursday, a single mom from Fort Worth Texas took my intentions to a whole new level when she decided to literally become “Dad” for a few hours to her son Elijah. “Today at my son Elijah’s skewl as I was dropping him off i ask him why there was so many cars,” Yevette Vasquez posted on her Facebook page last Thursday. “He said Donuts with Dad, so we quickly went back home cause I wasn’t about to let him miss out.”
Go home she did — but not so she could shelter Elijah from the reality that he didn’t have a father. Instead, Vasquez transformed herself into a dad for him — even if only for a few heartwarming and humorous hours. “I saw that same sad look on his face, and I didn’t want that” Vasquez later told CNN. Living just minutes from the school, she raced home and let Elijah help her change from mom, to dad. “He kept telling me what I should wear,” chuckled Vasquez.
With Vasquez all decked out in a plaid shirt, baseball hat, a pretty awesome adhesive mustache, and even a spritz of cologne, mother-and-son returned to school as father-and-son, where they captured the memorable event in a series of pretty epic photos.
I have nothing but respect for Vasquez, and a ton of admiration. Because the truth is, she did what so many single mothers have been doing for years — playing both mom and dad — and was creative enough to turn it into a memory her son won’t soon forget.
As she told CNN, Elijah had a great morning, and even though it was her first time dressing as a man, it may not be her last. “I may need to do it again next year” Vasquez told CNN, noting that her other sons want a chance to take “Dad” to school, too.
I gotta say — maybe she won’t be the only single mom at school dressed as a dad next year, because I may just need to try this one out myself.
If pizza parties at school and Donuts With Dad are all about bonding with our kids and giving them a role model they can count on, then what better way to prove that than by truly showing we’ll do whatever it takes to be there for them?
So way to go, Mom. Thanks for not only being the parent your son needed last Thursday, but for also reminding the rest of us single parents that sometimes, the only thing standing between a child being left out, and an amazing display of love, is an adhesive mustache, a little bit of cologne, and the dedication to do whatever it takes to be there for our kids.More On