Fathers, who haven’t been divorced, are [insert unfair, generalizing, controversial, upsetting statement].
Weekdays: Get up, go to work, come home, go to bed.
Weekends: Work on something, hang out with friends.
Oh! Don’t forget to play with your kids. But when does it happen? After work? Before dinner, after dinner? Before bed?
Before getting divorced, as the “bread winner”, (I still have yet to “win” any bread…just saying) I was unable to play with my kids from 8-5, because of work, 7-6, to include getting ready and drive time. I would play with them while dinner was being made, unless I was making it, but at their age, it was more often damage control rather than stimulating play time. Put in the swing, take out of the swing, put in the crib, take out of crib, find pacifier, insert pacifier, change didy widy, bounce on knee, rinse, repeat. My fathering skills were, classic, “traditional Dad”; Don’t show love, emotion, swoop in when there is upset, over correct bad behavior, when it’s convenient (proximity), lay down the law, or hold the baby for a second. On weekends, I was usually busy doing something else, and interaction with my kids was generally only when I had to hold them.
Then, it was time to fix life. Divorce felt inevitable at a certain point. Life in, life out, fight after fight. And then, one pivotal conversation flushed our lives into the ever-spinning toilet of divorce. An apt metaphor on many levels if you really think about it. Ever felt great after using the toilet? Yeah, then you get the reference. Turmoil, pain, fighting, chaos. Making the decision is easy. It’s dealing with the fact that your kids won’t always be there, anymore, that is gut wrenching. That’s the true decision. Do I put up with this abuse spewing cuntcano psychopath for another 16 years and still see my kids everyday, or do I end the madness and settle for less time with my kids. I can’t find a good way to illustrate the weeks of confusion and difficulty involved with making the final call. In the end, obviously, I made the decision, got the bumper sticker; ”This car climbed Mt. Cuntcano”. Moving on.
During the divorce you just, stare. Constantly. Everywhere you go. Nothing smells, or tastes. It just is. Except for a few short hours each week.
For a few hours, two days during the week, and every other weekend, I have the pleasure of hanging out with two, bubbly, happy, human beings, painting life back into color. ”Holding the baby” is now an experience; warm, soft, squirmy. You notice and feel eye contact, little microscopic facial hair, specks in the iris of the left eye. You remember the grip strength of four fingers and a thumb wrapped around a finger. Stuffed animal forts are something you build with them, not something you remark “that looks nice dear”. Every second is slurped up and savored. I was there, both physically, and emotionally. I was it, the “one”.
I was Mom and Dad.
I was the whole shooting match, their entire world. For “half” of the time. This changed me instantly, from a spectator, to the coach. This “game” depended on me to make the right calls, develop great plays, run solid practices. I felt this very powerful shift away from being “proverbial Dad” to who I am now.
It is possible that some of these things I was, back then, are due to the shell of a person I had become, due to the relationship I was in. I could have been “father autopilot” based on the relationship, and if given the chance to have children for the first time in a full, healthy relationship, things would have been different. How many people do you know are in “perfect relationships”? Probably a handful. I’ll give humans that much credit, there are some really great relationships out there. Especially ones that nurture, life in kids. But for all the bad ones that are still together, (and always might be, for better or for worse), please at least put your energy into thinking about how awesome you are parenting, or could be.
It’s been 6 years and I still guard my time with my kids. I still jockey for more time with them, around every holiday and vacation. I still don’t schedule anything on the days I have them. And I always will.