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Category Archives: hurdles

Join The Club

Why would you read this blog? Well. If you’re a divorced dad (or mom for that matter), you’re kind of part of the club. When you got divorced, your friends and family likely rallied behind you and supported you in the only way they knew how. But as much as we appreciate the support of those around us, there is still an emptiness you feel unless you’re able to connect with others who are living the same experience.

I can demonstrate empathy for someone with a broken arm, but I can’t connect with them on a level of true understanding and compassion simply because I’ve never had to live day to day with the emotional or physicalpolls_alone_0603_585011_poll_xlarge challenges of having to survive with only one workable set of fingers.

Those who don’t have kids, can’t fully appreciate what a day with kids is like. Anyone who isn’t divorced with kids, can’t truly appreciate the level of energy true commitment to those lives requires to make it work. They can support, love, embrace, and encourage. But they will never truly understand what life as a single divorced dad is like unless you are a single divorced dad as well. At times it can cause you to feel alone in a crowded room. You need the support and appreciate the encouragement, but you can still feel alone when you don’t feel like people fully understand what you’re going through.

And so, this blog was created as a point of reference, written by a single divorced father of three who is attempting, like other single divorced dads, to make it through the hours, days, weeks, months, and years with a positive attitude and with the strength to raise well adjusted happy children.

It’s one thing for a doctor of psychology to tell you it’ll all be OK. Or to hear from your married brother that you’re going to make it. But it’s another when a fellow father struggling with getting the kids to soccer practice, their yearbook meeting, dance class, making their lunches, being there when they get home, having their favorite keep-calm-and-join-the-club-6jeans ready in the morning, making sure everyone is together for a healthy dinner, and coordinating with an ex who has their own set of demands to deal with, tells you that you can do it; it simply holds a little more weight.

And I’m here to tell you, you can do it. You’re going to make it. You’re not alone. There are others going through exactly the same thing. It sucks, it’s hard, it’s demanding and it’s draining. It will test you on every level emotionally and physically. You will fail, and you will succeed. You will laugh. You will cry. You will smile. You will scream. You will let people down because you’re simply at capacity and don’t have anything else to give. You will also celebrate victories with friends and family when you need it most. You will have days when you’ll feel like it’s all going to fall apart. But you will recover and recognize that it won’t. There will be victories. There will be hugs. You will find moments of peace and acceptance. You will recognize strengths you never would have known you had if it hadn’t been for the divorce. You will grow and so will your children. There are so many positives to look for. So many amazing moments. And so many things you can do to make it a positive.

My hope is that you can find a word or two here and there that encourages you to smile and get up ready to take on the world. A world that may be foreign to you. One that may appear overwhelming at times, but is manageable if you simply take it one step at a time.

So, from one divorced father to another; I assure you, you can make it. Oh, and welcome to the club. Glad to have you.

 

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What A Trip!

I wish I could take today, frame it and hang it on the wall. Not as a reminder of a birthday celebration or a softball victory. Nothing like that. I wish I could hang it up as a reminder of a day I wish I could have handled better. It wasn’t a horrible day. Many positive moments, victories and things to be thankful for, not the least ofHURDLES2-articleLarge which are my kids. But it was a stressful day. A monday in every sense of the word. And subsequently, I was a grump and edgy. If I had to give myself a grade, I would give myself a C-.

I had prided myself on keeping a positive attitude and for not letting things get me down or make me edgy. But today pushed my buttons for some reason. And like a lot of parents, I tripped over a couple of hurdles along the way. Perhaps a lack of sleep, a lack of faith, one straw too many. Who knows. The point is I found myself apologizing to the kids at the end of the day for not bringing my “A” game.

“We all have our days dad,” proclaimed my eldest. And so it is that my daughter helped me realized that I’d reached a point where days like today truly do stand out. Because they are not the norm. They are not the constant. They represent an old me and stand as a reminder of how far I’ve come.

So I wish I could frame it and hang it on the wall. For no other reason than to look at it tomorrow and recognize that the day was just that; a day. Not a week, not a month, but a single day filled with a number of seemingly harmless hurdles that ultimately I managed to make it over. With a bruise or two perhaps, but I made it.

 

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Emotional Tides

I’m of the growing opinion that, just as your ex will be a part of your life forever, so will the ever changing emotional tides that seem to come with a divorce. Hang on … looking deeper, I say divorce, but let’s be honest; they come with life. A point I keep making to my kids, but need to be reminded of myself from time to time.
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Our kids blame a lot of ‘bad’ things on the divorce. And we’re quick to tell them (at least I know I am) that being able to keep your room straight, get your school projects done on time and having to go with the flow are not the result of the divorce; they are part of being a responsible and easy going person. Our kids do not know a life that doesn’t include divorce and so they will always see that as an excuse.

I’ve been told, “Your parents weren’t divorced dad, how would you know what I’m feeling.” Which is true. But the point here isn’t about competing to see who’s childhood was harder. Deep down, as they get older, my kids are recognizing that each home has its own, shall we say, unique circumstances. Our job is to teach them that every human being on this planet has their own hurdles to overcome. Some bigger than others. For some, divorce would be a cake walk compared to what they’ve been forced to endure. The fact that our kids have two parents who absolutely adore them and love them unconditionally should be their first clue that they’ve got it
images-1pretty good compared to some. The reality is, we all have our crosses to bare. How we choose to carry it is up to us. Yes the divorce creates some obstacles and challenges, but most if not all of them can be overcome with a little effort and the right attitude.

The other lesson, is to not blame our circumstances for our downfalls. Take responsibility for your situation and take steps to correct things. Chances are your circumstances are the result of how you approach life in general. Not the other way around. We have to look at ourselves from time to time and remind ourselves that perhaps the emotional tides we’re blaming on the divorce are actually a part of our own emotional make up. How we got here is the result of a long list of choices and reactions. Not just a signed document from a judge.

Divorce or happy marriage, we’re going to be concerned about finances, work, the kids, the state of the world and whether our home owners association is going to send us a letter for having our garbage can parked in front of the garage. Just like the kids, we’re faced with this reality and it’s up to us whether we’re going to embrace it and adjust accordingly or blame all of our trials and tribulations on the fact that we’re single parents with a pretty big load on our shoulders. It’s also up to us to consider taking a look at how we approach hurdles and whether we need to consider a little internal remodeling as well.

Yes, life as a single dad can be hell. It’s a lot. And chunks of it are more painful than others, especially when it comes to the kids and what you see them going through. All the more reason we need to set an example for our kids and make the best of our situation. How they define divorce is partly up to us. Let them see that we’re not going to use the divorce as an emotional security blanket. We’re not going to blame the world (or our ex) for our struggles. Pull up your big girl panties and make the best of it. Be introspective. Take responsibility. Be accountable. Let them see that yes, life sucks sometimes and not every day is perfect. But how you approach the tides is completely up to you AND them. Help them recognize all of the wonderous things they do have which, hopefully, includes a dad who is completely in love with them and thrilled to have them in his world. A dad who is there to help them overcome their own emotional tides when they rise.

 

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One Giant Leap For Divorced Mankind

I think, just as either you or your spouse did when this whole thing started, you realize at some point something needs to change. There’s a little “ding” that goes off in your head that tells you; this isn’t working and it’s time to move on. I think for a lot of people the frustration sets in when they can’t decide what that means or what direction to go.

After a divorce, your first item of business is to survive. Your entire focus is adjusting to the new reality and overcoming the fear that your world is going to completely crumble. This is especially true if yours was a twoUnknown-1 income household which is suddenly down to one. Your mind is consumed with how this is going to work. When will you see the kids? Who pays for what? How do I juggle work and childcare? Can I afford it? Is it going to be a daily battle? All of it can scare the crap out of the strongest and most secure individual.

Through the ups and downs of the ensuing months, you find an offbeat rhythm and find yourself kind of making it work. But it still feels uneasy. Your first thought is, it’s time to move on and build a new life. And as anxious as you may be to create this new utopia, walking away from a marriage and attempting to start over is easier said than done; both physically and mentally. And everyone sees it but you.

Eventually, at some point, you wake up and realize you’re in divorce purgatory. You’re no longer married but you haven’t quite rebuilt your life either. You’re sustaining yourself, but not really progressing the way you had been prior to the divorce. You’re kind of stuck somewhere in the middle trying to figure out what’s next and how
do you get to a place that feels like you’re living again. You may even be sitting there wondering, “Is this it? Is this what my life will be from now on?”

Well, you can look at it that way. But to me that’s a sign that you’ve reached a new plateau. Your mind has wrapped its head around the situation and you’ve come to terms with some things that had been difficult to let
images-5go of. Perhaps it was guilt or aspects of your relationship that you were holding on to. In all likelihood you’re ready to move forward, albeit with a very small well thought out step.

I think what you have to decide now is, where do you want to go? As much as you may feel held down by the baggage you now bring to the table, the truth is you’re probably freer than you’ve been in years. You’re making choices and decisions you haven’t had the prviledge of making on your own. Whether the courts decided your time with the kids or you and your ex did; at some point your children will have a choice. The foundation you create today really is up to you. How you move forward is truly your decision, although it may not always feel that way. You can look as things as either a tether or as a blessing. It’s really up to you. Embrace your relationship with your children and ALWAYS put them first. Nothing else matters. I truly believe that. Just remember, there is a balance. You have to have faith in the cosmos. When you have to let go, let go. Just remind your kids how much you love them and how much you love it when they’re with you.

I was once told by a very insightful lady that we attract in life what we truly believe we deserve. At some point you’re going to recognize you deserve better. You’re going to recognize you have more going for you than you realize. You’re going to realize that what you’re managing is awe inspiring. When you reach that plateau and find that inner strength, you’re going to find it much easier to let go of the past and move forward. When you hit that point you’re going to want it all to happen tomorrow. But give it time. Trust it; and yourself. A divorce has a way of forcing you to man up. And once you find that strength my gut says you’re going to find it in you to take that first big step toward building a new and much better life for yourself AND your family.

Peace!

 

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Shadow Of A Doubt

So, you’re struggling of late are you?

Is it the finances? Summer vacation and child care needs? Is it your relationship with your ex? A combination of all of them? Maybe you’re just feeling overwhelmed.

I always promised myself that I would use this blog as a means of promoting positives and encouraging you to find the strength to make it through today because tomorrow will be better. The truth is, sometimes that’s easier said than done simply because, just like you, I struggle from time to time. There are weeks when it all
plato feels like it’s crashing down on me. The air conditioning breaks down, the house needs repair, the hot water tank … tanks, cash flow lightens, there’s an unexpected injury or illness which means unbudgeted doctor bills. Some days it feels like life is simply going through a check list and picking hurdles to throw at you. And it all can appear to cast a huge shadow on an otherwise sunny day.

Fast forward to last night when my daughter noticed a bug on the light in the middle of our living room. She said, “Dad, look at the huge shadow that little bug is making on the ceiling.” As if channeling Plato (read about the Allegory of the Cave) my daughter made an amazingly well timed point. I quickly related her revelation to some of the small stuff I’d been sweating. How big the shadow of the smallest of problems can appear to be. Have you ever noticed how the shadow of a small doll can appear to be a huge monster on the wall and ceiling? Perhaps some of our problems aren’t any different than the tiny bug or small doll. Their shadows can be huge and lead us to believe they’re bigger than they really are.

That’s not to say that some problems that come up like an unexpected repair bill don’t hurt. Or that a trip to the emergency room doesn’t have the potential to become a huge challenge. The point is, our lives will have plenty shadowhands_3of larger issues that are going to ding us up from time to time. The trick is to recognize when what we perceive to be a number of enormous problems are really nothing more than large shadows of doubt created by smaller problems that are easily tackled and overcome.

Eventually a gnat can become a huge pest, but an easy one to eliminate.  So if you’re struggling today, as I often do from time to time, take a deep breathe and do what you can to relax and focus on a few positives. Then do your best to see if some of the large shadows that are looming over head are nothing more than smaller issues that are simply appearing larger as they’re being projected on the ceiling in your head. Hopefully that will give you the energy to go after some of the legitimately bigger issues darkening the skies in your universe. Because those are the ones that need every ounce of strength you have. Wasting it on gnats accomplishes nothing but draining you of your spirit. No doubt about it.

 
 

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