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In Ten Years

In Ten Years

As I reacted to the natural call of my offspring (“DAD!”) for the 1,528th time this weekend, I recognized that I was starting to sound annoyed in my responses. Annoyed. Annoyed with what? Being needed? Loved? Not alone?

Overall I consider myself to be a pretty good dad. But every once in a while I stop and see myself as being a complete ass. I allow my ever evolving, busy life to cloud my judgement and get in the way of valuing what’s really important. It’s the moments when I’m in the middle of something personal or maybe working from home (which I’m remarkably fortunate to be able to do from timeIMG_8576 to time), maybe typing an e-mail, that the adolescent piranha that can be my children, all seem to peck away at my aura simultaneously each with their own specific need, ie.”DAD can you make me a snack,” “Dad, my computer won’t work,” “Dad,where’s the remote?,”  “Dad I’m bored,” “DAD!, blankety blank didn’t flush,” “dad have you seen my … oh there it is.”

I’ve at times asked them to give me a minute so I can focus on the task in front of me assuring them that I’ll be with them in a minute. By the tenth time, I know I can come off somewhat rudely. Something about the same question being asked ten times within five minutes will cause that.

Yet, it’s those moments when I get made at myself for reacting that way. Because the truth is; in another ten years, I’ll miss the beckoning. I’ll long for just one, “DADDDD?!!!” And wish to God one of them would need me to find the brush their sister took without asking.

Remember, the days with our kids are limited. Embrace every moment, answer every question and once in a while, let the rest of the world wait and be the dad!

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2016 in choices, Uncategorized

 

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So, Are You Seeing Anyone?

A common question for the divorced dad is, “are you seeing anyone?”

I’ve shied away from the topic of dating for a number of reasons. Probably the biggest is the fact that quite frankly, that’s kind of personal. However it struck me recently as I’d seen other people I know who have been divorced for a couple of years; how easy it seemed for them to just jump into a new life with a new partner and move forward.

Really? How the $&%@ did you do that?

It took me thirty-one years to find my partner. Sure a lot of that was on me. But still. That’s a long time. I was very career focused and had grown accustomed to being single. But when I met my wife I was convinced I’d found my soulmate. Then for it to all blow up in my face the way that it did, I feel a little jaded and even more cynical about relationships. So the thought of integrating another person’s life into myFatGuyCupid-300x298 own again is somewhat intimidating. Perhaps I take it all too seriously, but that feels like a big deal to me. Which is why I’m always amazed when I see other divorced dads married again or in a serious relationship after a year or so of getting divorced. Frankly it blows my mind. Kind of the same way I’m always floored when I hear that a guy has had a couple of affairs. I’m like, seriously? I had a hard enough time finding ONE woman. How the hell are you finding like, nine at the same time?!

To answer the question you’re probably asking, “why yes, I’ve dated some.” And truthfully there have been women I could see myself with. Women who represent many things I didn’t have in my marriage and whose company I very much enjoy. But here’s the thing. When you’ve gotten back into a mode where you make your own meals. Manage the house on your own. Make the bed the way you like. Pick the laundry soap you like. Wear a shirt that is completely hideous and not care. Lie on the couch for no damn good reason without fear of retribution. Manage the kids day to day on your own terms when they’re with you (albeit with some basic coordination with the ex as in my case). And basically do what you want when you want. It can be a challenge to consider the prospect of going back to a system that, in our case, didn’t work.

Listen, after a divorce, getting to a point where you feel strong as an individual and completely self reliant takes a lot of effort and is remarkably empowering. The thought of giving that up again and finding ways to balance it with leaning on someone else can be a struggle for some. That’s true whether you’re a divorced man OR woman. Let’s face it. There are many aspects about being single that are kind of cool. I like being independent. I enjoy being self reliant. I enjoy my time to myself when I can manage to get it. That’s not to say it wouldn’t be awesome to have someone to share it all with and someone to connect with. I would personally love that. But I think it’s reasonable to be somewhat skiddish and over protective of your mental state after what we’ve been through as divorced parents.

So to you guys who have managed to find your way into a new relationship. I applaud you. Would love to hear how you managed to cross that threshold. For those of you who haven’t. Don’t sweat it. Enjoy the positives of calling the shots and being independent. There are many perks. I believe if and when it’s supposed to happen it’ll happen. Until then; when someone asks, “So, are you seeing anyone,” just hold your head up high and proudly say, “Nope. Are you?”

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2014 in dating, Divorce

 

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Stop, Go, Stop, Go, Stop, Go

I live a life that is full of momentum shifts. As a freelance director I get waves of crazy busy and then periods of extreme quiet. It’s just the nature of the business. When you combine that with periods of three kids running amuck in the house and then complete silence for a few days it can really throw you for a loop.

I remember the first time my ex-wife had the kids for more than a couple of days. It was a complete shock to the system on so many levels. Emotionally, physically, mentally I was a basket case. Eventually you learn to adjust, but when your life is in a mode of stop / go / stop / go, you really have to be mentally aware and prepare yourself for theoriginal-723178-1 shifts.

You also have to be able to stop and enjoy the down moments rather than feel uncomfortable and uneasy. I once wrote a post about learning to ride the waves. It’s true. You really have to learn how to adjust to the ups and downs of your life and learn to appreciate both.

You’re going to have good weeks and bad ones. It’s just the nature of life in general. When you’re divorced with kids it’s even more so. And as difficult as it is for you to adjust, just think of how it is for your kids! Adjusting to two different parents and environments. Trying to keep up with changing schedules. Being passed back and forth against their free will. Be cognizant of their world and take a moment to help them adjust when they first walk in the door. Recognize that they just came from what is likely a very different atmosphere regardless of how much you co-parent. Take into consideration what they’re going through and take a moment to catch up and be with them. It’s important. Don’t just let em’ in and go back about your business. They’re likely to bring up things about your ex-spouse. Do NOT take this opportunity to pounce on any negative they may bring up. Just let’m talk, nod a lot and let them know how happy you are that they’re with you.

Divorce creates a lot of crazy momentum shifts for everyone involved. Do your best to be aware and plan ahead for the ups and downs. You really have to learn how to just roll with it from time to time. We’d all like things to go according to plan. But when you have kids that rarely happens. Throw an ex spouse into the equation and you can pretty much give up on that concept. So just be prepared for stop and go traffic. It’ll help you avoid getting whiplash and trust me, your kids will be watching to see how you adjust and will follow suit.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Connecting the Tots

Our kids are constantly connected with the world. Through the internet and their i-pod touch, they’re connected with friends, school, and quite frankly, millions of people they’ve never met before. And yet the question remains; how connected are they with you? Who is influencing them more about life? You or the rest of humanity? I’m going to go out on a limb and bet that they have a lot more one on one time on-line than they do with you. Our kids are desperate to connect with us, but when we fail to accomplish that, they likely go right back to the one thing they find it easy to connect with; the WiFi.

Complicating things even further, is that when you have more than one child, so much of their time is spent competing for your attention. This is especially true when you’re a single parent juggling life along with the kids. There’s no way to grab just one of the kids and run to Home Depot together. If one goes, they all have to go. And so, my ex-wife and I try to work it out once in a while so that when one of us has all three kids the other takes one of them to ensure they get some quality one on one time with each of us. It may be something as simple as a quick lunch, a pedi (usually my ex handles those), or just hangin’ at the other’s house for the day sibling free.

And even if you only have one child, their time is often spent competing for your attention with work, housework, chores, or errands. Don’t underestimate the value of blowing off the world once in a while and Barbie Human Connectiongiving your kid(s) 100% of your attention. Don’t think it doesn’t have a profound affect on them that lasts well past the time you spend with them. They simply need to feel important to you and valued.

Let’s face it, it’s not easy some times. Especially when you’re not used to dropping everything to get a lesson in Minecraft from an eight-year-old. Just keep in mind, the foundation you build today with your kids will likely affect how they react to you and the world five to ten years from now. As usual it’s about being aware and stopping every once in a while to take it all in and enjoy them while you can. It may also mean swallowing your pride from time to time to work it out with your ex. Just consider the big picture and what’s best for everyone involved.

I promise you two things: One; the pros blow away the cons. The kids benefit, you benefit, your ex benefits. It’s a classic win/win and gets easier the more you do it as do transitions, disciplining and life in general. And two; you will catch yourself more than once stopping and recognizing that the memories you just created will become your family’s most prized possessions down the road. And each of those memories will act as one more connection no one can take away from you.

Peace!

 

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Time Keeps on Slippin’ Slippin’ Slippin’

Steve Miller said it best. Time keeps on slippin’ slipplin’ slippin, into the future.

When you’re a single parent (or any parent for that matter), everything changes when it comes to your calendar. Not only is your plate full, but your soup bowl is overflowing, your salad bowl can no longer contain theto-do-list tomatoes, your bread dish is heaping and your glass is spilling all over the table.

It is easy to become overwhelmed with the “have to’s” let alone consider any sort of “me time” or maintaining friendships. Eventually you start to convince yourself that in attempting to make everyone happy you’re letting everyone down and the world is frowning on you 24 – 7. In addition to that, depending on how much of the time you have your kids, there is a new level of stress that enters the picture knowing that when you’re on … it’s all you.

And of course with spring comes a new season of sports activities to attend, games to cheer, practices to get to, new grass to mow, weeds to pull, flowers to plant and shrubs to trim. And let’s not forget the fact that school will be out soon which means camps to find, sitters to hire, vacations to plan … all of which means something else will have to be taken off the calendar.

Does this sound familiar?

As parents we want to ensure we don’t deprive our kids of essentials and experiences. But the reality is, at some point something’s gotta give. It’s up to each of us to set the priorities and recognize we’re not super heroes. We can’t do it all. Our first inclination is to simply extend the day getting up at 5 a.m. and going to bed FUTUREHEADS_THE_CHAOS_COVERat 2 a.m. But you can only keep that up for so long before you go mental. The reality is we have to be more realistic. It may mean missing a practice, or pushing a deadline, or letting the grass grow another half inch. It may mean working with other parents to help get kids where they need to be when you’re overbooked. It may be, God help me, saying no once in a while.

The world will continue to pull at you from all sides. How you handle it is really up to you. I wrote early on when I first started this blog, that adjusting to life as a single parent isn’t a race. There is no finish line. No matter how you pace yourself, there is always another step to take. ALWAYS. To enjoy each step and not completely burn out it’s important to recognize that simple truth. There is no finish line. Another truth is that whether you’re an introvert or extravert, we all need a chance to recharge. Be aware of when you reach that point and give yourself a chance to replenish your mental, physical and emotional capacity.

For me, I find that when I’m ‘thinking’ about everything that has to happen, I stress out. When I just start doing things I’m fine. Just knowing I’m tackling it, or at least attempting to tackle it, regardless of what “it” is, makes me feel better about things. It’s the first step that kills me. In the Futureheads song “Jupiter,” they state:

The first five thousand miles are the hardest steps to take
Then your autopilot kicks in for the journey’s sake
You’re impossible to break
Impossible to overtake

And it’s true. Once you get going, once you start moving, you start conquering. Eventually you get to a point where you’re system just rolls and you discover you’re capable of things you never imagined. The danger comes when you stop (like I did this weekend). Getting going again can be tough. But the point is, you forget how much you have to do when you start moving. You get focused and your mind can’t dwell on the mountainimages-23 before you.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

So, sit down, and consider what needs to be done. Make a list (WHAT DID HE SAY?). Yes a list. Then prioritize. Then roll. Get moving. Start checking things off. Maybe start with a small thing. But make sure you have your priorities straight. There will be days when you’re in a client meeting and the school is going to call to let you know your kid just threw up and needs to come home. That’s your cue to say, “you’ll have to excuse me, my kid needs me.” A day will come when they won’t need you any more and you’ll wish they did. So take advantage of these days while you can. Nine out of ten times people will understand. And if the people who are around you DON’T understand, then you need different people around you. But that’s another post.

You will get overwhelmed. Your plate will overflow. It’s part of the gig. But tomorrow will come. Trust it. Do what you can. Just don’t sit and stew over it all. Have your priorities in order. Put your body in gear and start moving forward. Little by little you’ll figure it out so long as you allow yourself to be aware of every moment and soak in the good stuff. The first 5000 miles may be the hardest ones to take, but they can also be the most rewarding.

 

 

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