I’m the one who explained why you left, the one who dealt with their anger, their frustration, and their tears.
I have defended you because it’s better than telling them to give up on you.
And because it hurts less than hating you.
I have paid for all their flights to see you, and even some of yours, so you saw them at all.
I reminded you to call them on their birthdays, to text them during their bad weeks, and then pretended I didn’t.
But I am the one who has been there since day one and every day in between.
I’m the full-time mother, the part-time father, their financial adviser, their #1 fan, their Lyft service, their advocate, their therapist, and their life teacher.
I planned all their birthday parties and checked off their Christmas lists.
I reemed them when they missed classes, praised them when they got As, and consoled them when they didn’t get the grades they thought they deserved.
Then I helped them look at colleges, filled out their financial aid forms, and edited their college applications.
I signed their car notes, reviewed their leases, scheduled all their appointments, taught them how to budget and cook themselves dinner.
I have had the hard conversations with them, the ones about sex, heartbreak, adulting, and how to care for their mental health.
I watched and hurt with them for every single disappointment they’ve had since you left, and to be honest, even all the years before that.
I have taken all of their calls, including the scary ones that came in after 2 a.m.
I picked them up, literally and figuratively, when they were lost.
I taught them about love and loyalty, and also what bullshit smells like.
And while you complain about child support, I have creatively found ways to pay the other 90% of their expenses you’ve always thought you shouldn’t have to cover.
I am the ride-or-die parent, the real-deal-superwoman single mom, who has sacrificed much to give them lives that don’t lack, despite your absence.
So, when you ask me with callousness and undeserved annoyance, “What the hell do you want?” my simple answer is this:
Be a good dad, a better man.
Respect the mother of your children.
And show some gratitude that while our children may carry your name, they bear all of my heart.