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I vividly remember, it was in December 2004 and that was a very special day of my life. I had received a note from the day care center of my daughter in Tokyo who was then 7 years old. It was about celebrating Father’s Day in her kindergarten class. The plan was to have all the fathers come to the day care to spend the afternoon with their children reflecting what mothers do on a regular basis and share a snack with their child.

That day I was at work and had to attend meetings till 3 p.m. Luckily I had already received special permission from my boss that I could leave the office every day at 4:30 p.m. to pick up my daughter from the day care. I didn’t want to make another request to leave earlier than that. As a single mother, originally from Nepal, I was also a bit hesitant and unsure of what will be my daughter’s reaction, when she sees me in the day care. Will she be happy or sad? Will it remind her of not having a father, who was Japanese and was not in this world anymore. I was also not sure as to how I myself would feel in a room full of men with their children to celebrate Father’s Day.

I thought about this and decided no matter, it would be best if I showed up at the day care center as her mother even on Father’s Day. I left the office anxiously and in a great hurry to get there on time. Of course, Murphy’s law usually works at the most crucial times. This was the day when the traffic was also uncooperative, and I was stuck on the road for quite some time. I finally reached the day care center late and some of the fathers had already started to leave. I met the principal in the lobby, and she told me that my daughter was feeling very sad and was also crying. As I entered the room, I saw her with tears rolling down her cheeks sitting with her arms crossed and was also visibly angry. There was a paper plate on her table with a slice of half a banana, a cookie and a cup of tea, not the type of goodies she would really crave. She was eagerly waiting for me to come. As soon as she saw me, she came running and hugged me as if she was meeting me after a long time. That very moment, her gloomy mood changed in a few seconds and her usual smile was flashing back on her face. I sat down with her and shared a cup of tea, piece of banana and rice cracker along with the those precious mother-child moments on that Father’s Day. In fact, we chatted as usual, made faces at each other, giggled and enjoyed our daddy cum mummy time for a few minutes.

I learned a lasting and a very important lesson that day. I figured out it was perfectly all right to be a mother and a father in the room that only had fathers with their children. It didn’t matter to my daughter if I was a male or a female. She just saw me as her parent and her caregiver. My presence was more important than my gender and her affection was not based on the importance of the day, but it was based on the feeling that she also had a loving parent like anyone else. My daughter is already a graduate now as we continue to celebrate Father’s Day and Mother’s Day with the same enthusiasm and spirit!

Grishma Poudyal
Koto Ward, Tokyo

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.