It's Father's Day this Sunday (18th June), which for many people means treating one of the most important men in their life to a pair of socks, a new tie or some other stereotypically "manly" gift, and a nice card.
But for many others, it's a day tinged with sadness. It often acts as a reminder to single mums and children, whose fathers are absent for whatever reason, that their household doesn't conform to the idealised nuclear family model, which our society still valorises above others.
Not content with this state of affairs, one man sought to change the way many mums feel on Father's Day with a new range of greetings cards. Stevie Rowing-Parker, who was raised by a single mother after his father died when he was 5 years old, has created three super-stylish – and gratifyingly gender-neutral – cards, on sale through his company Happy Father's Day Mum.
The cards' slogans are no-nonsense and exceptionally Instagrammable. "If you do both jobs, you should get both cards" reads one. Another asks, "Who needs a dad when your mum has balls?" while the other wants to know "Who said the best dad in the world can't be a mum?" All highly valid points, which we're surprised hadn't been directed at single mums sooner.
The idea for the cards came about one Father's Day a few years ago, Rowing-Parker said. "I thought that if my mum did both Mother and Father roles so well, why shouldn’t she get both Mother and Father’s Day cards? So I started to graffiti regular Father’s Day cards by crossing out the 'Dad' in ‘Best Dad in the world’ and scribbling 'Mum' instead."
Rowing-Parker's mum Maria filled his childhood, along with his brother Tim's, with love and encouragement all by herself. "She wouldn’t spend a penny on herself so we never went without. She let us support whichever football team we wanted, something my dad never would have allowed. She never dated because she didn’t want a man creating tension in our home when we were (very) awkward teenagers. And she encouraged us to be kind, hard-working and open-minded men.
"In short, she poured every last ounce of energy into giving us an amazing upbringing against all odds," he said.
But when Father's Day rolled around each year, Rowing-Parker felt he needed a way to reassure his mum they hadn't "gone without" or been "deprived" by not having a dad. So he started Happy Father’s Day Mum to remind single parents everywhere how proud and appreciative their children often are of them.
Maria said she "couldn't stop smiling" when her son first sent her a Father’s Day card with 'Dad' crossed out and 'Mum' scribbled on instead. "Single mums rarely have time to stop and reflect on everything they’ve done, they just get on with it. But when you receive a card saying thank you for being Mum and Dad, thank you for putting us in front of anything else, you can’t help feel a little bit proud."
What's next for the company? "Launching anything is tough so now it's launched hopefully the fun can really begin," Rowing-Parker told Refinery29. "The next thing to focus on is 'Happy Mother's Day Dad'. It's only fair to big up all those amazing dads doing it on their own, too."
If you want to get your hands on one of the cards for your own mum, place your order today or tomorrow (Friday 16th June). It will be posted first-class and should (hopefully) arrive in time for Sunday. Make her feel valued on a day she'd least expect.