Watching The Wheels

Another evening, another great night.

Tuesday night, my daughter is safely in bed, stuffed puppy curled in an arm, one pillow under her head, one to the side, a pink elephant by her side.  She’s six years old now, she’s with me quite a bit, and I couldn’t be happier.  Actually, that’s a lie; I could be happier, probably, but… right now, how?

Funny.  It doesn’t seem like it was long ago that I worried about when she would start reading, when she’d show interest in things besides eating, hiding behind a pant leg, and watching cartoons.  Now she’s concerned about overeating, taking ballet and making new friends, and watching Disney “tween” shows.   Now I worry about things like her spelling, if she has enough kid friends in the summer, and where we’ll go on vacations that would have some practical value.

A few months ago, someone told me that these I’m reaching the point of my life, as a parent, where time will move impossibly fast, and that it would seem as though one day I’d wake up and years would have gone by in my daughter’s life, and I need to pay special attention to what I do, what we do, and now I have no doubt.  My daughter remembers everything now.  Working days slip by, and I barely know where they went… but go they did.  Culture has changed; Britney Spears became Lady Gaga, Harry Potter begat Twilight.  So I stepped up, too.  Insurance has been bought, college funds are growing, major project established, plans have been made.

Yet, still, I walk by my daughter’s room, as often when she’s here as when she’s not, wondering if I’m succeeding.  Wondering if she really minds the dresser that could use a fresh coat of paint.  Wondering if she really liked what I had to throw together for dinner at the last minute.  Wondering if she’s always like those Dora brand yogurt that can be so hard to find.  Wondering if she really still appreciates the fact that I still make sure that every night before she goes to bed, the last words that she hears from me are, “I love you, Gracie.”  And wondering if she still does appreciate it now, will she always?

My every night is filled with questions with no answers.  None yet, anyway.

Only time will tell the tale.

It’s an amazing journey, this one of being a single parent, and it’s one that I’m still learning as I go.  I suspect that I still have so much to learn.

But I’m not just watching the wheels turn.

Maybe what I’m attempting to say today is that perhaps none of us should.

The Power of Half: Review and Philosophy

In the life of this single parent, even nights where I don’t have my daughter, I still have a lot to do.  There are flash cards to prepare for a spelling test on Friday, clothes to wash and put away, a little girl’s bedroom to organize, and tonight, serious project work to complete.  It’s the same thing that I do every other night that Grace is away; work like a fiend to get ready for the nights that she is here.

Somehow, though, through this, I managed to pick up and read a book called The Power of Half by authors Kevin Salwen and his fifteen year old daughter, Hannah, on their family’s unusual quest to give away half of their assets to fight poverty.

Hannah is the spiritual leader of this often tumultuous journey, which in some ways validates a belief that has at times has ruled my life, which is this: if an adult listens carefully enough to a child, teen or otherwise, sometimes their seemingly innocent observations can spark profound positive change.

From the quest to sell their opulent home and move to a house half it’s size to the Salwens’  interactions with adult and younger friends and co-workers, this story tells a frank, humorous, and altogether human tale of one way that a family begins to grow, communicate, and share on a different level than many of us will ever even attempt.

Inspirational,  remarkable, and to some people, no doubt, ridiculous, the story recounted in this book just might have the ability to give the reader the spark and gumption necessary to change the world for the better in their own way; perhaps not on the scale that the Salwens’ hoped to achieve, but in a way that’s appropriate for them.  In my world, the steps to a better place for us all is measured not just by miles and feet, but by inches.

I enjoyed the The Power of Half, and whether you are like me and believe that giving hope is one of the most profound gifts, or if you are often disappointed at the lack of positive stories that the world occasionally has to offer, I have to think that you would enjoy this book as well.

The Best Job I Ever Had

Sitting in my apartment, watching HBO, with my almost six year old daughter sleeping peacefully in the room next to this one, it occurred to me that I haven’t written in a while, and I have decided to start writing again.

Certainly it isn’t because I have more time than I’ve had in the last several months, I’m not bored,  not depressed, nor morose.  I’m happy.  Why?  Not because Grace has begun to really show aspects of her personality, and I’m sure over the years, I’ll see things that I don’t like, although I haven’t yet.  It isn’t because I’m satisfied, because I’m neither that nor overly comfortable.  Life is still a challenge; I still have many, many goals to fulfill.  So why the quick change?

I’d like to think that I’ve embraced my life and that is the reason for my attitude.

I am a parent.  Like many of you, I’ve faced roadblocks and problems.  All single parents do.  I suspect, also, that there will be many, many more to come.  However, I am a parent; a single male parent, with a ex, with a girlfriend, with a home, with a job, with responsibilities that often times seem to be more than I can keep track of at one time, but I’ve learned, managed, and will continue to get even better at being the best parent that I can be.

Better yet, I have embraced my destiny, and for parents, non parents, and people, I truly believe that there may be no lesson more important than this.

I might only have my daughter half the time or sometimes a little less.  Bills will continue to grow.  School problem might loom.  Anything could happen.  But right now, my daughter’s room is not empty, and my skills will continue to grow, and I might not be totally prepared for the future, but I am working on it.

Some people are forever changed by a religious conversion, or a marriage, some other life changing event.  I, however, believe that at this moment, the path that began when I first saw my daughter’s face six years ago in the hospital was the ultimate jumpstart to realizing exactly who I was, who I could be, and how I could get there.

I am a father.  And I am working towards exactly what I need to do, which is to bring a wonderful contribution to our world in the form of my daughter, who I hope becomes a truly remarkable young woman.

It’s the ultimate job, and it’s the most difficult vocation that I’ve had yet.

But I think that I like it very much.

How are you meeting other single parents?

This might be interesting – probably only to me – because it’s something that I’ve never tried before.  I’m interested to see how other people are meeting other single parents.  Are you doing it the old fashioned way, or using the internet to do it?  I wonder for several reasons.  Notably, I’ve seen successful internet romantic relationships happen… well, never.  But I’m not in the market, so don’t get excited… or frightened.

I have seen other types of relationships happen and be fulfilling for others, though.  I think this is where I give a shout to Yelp and Meetup.

Take the poll!

A Parent Looks At 40

This post is overdue, because 40 started last year.  Try not to hold it against me; my brain really only became 40 in the last few months, so bear with me.

I began Single Dads for a couple of reasons.  One was to serve as a constant reminder what it was like to be a single dad with daughter, from the beginning, and the other was to have a first hand source of the thoughts, emotions, and trials of a single parent available for my daughter to read when she became old enough to view it.  For quite a while now, it’s done exactly that.  I believe, however, that this blog enters a new age, as tonight, I came to some realizations that I’m finally able to share is some intelligent way.

A long time ago I wrote a post called The Empty Room, about how I felt walking by my daughter’s empty room when she was away with her mother.  Grace’s room isn’t empty any more.   As I write, her room is filled with stuffed animals, music boxes given to her as gifts from me and her grandparents, Barbie dolls used and unused, woodland fairy and princess outfits, and the best children’s books (she loves Kitten’s First Full Moon – seems like I read it 3 times a week).  These aren’t the signs of an empty room, but a room filled with memories and love.

So finally I have realized, it wasn’t the room that was empty, it was, in fact, a metaphor for my emptiness.

Now, here I am: a self-aware, semi-actualized single dad, who, between running his daughter to dance class and movies, still hasn’t figured out how to find and spend quality time with other people with whom I have parenting in common.  Still having single friends without children who have to be tired of attempting to relate to my personal struggles, still woefully lacking in age appropriate play dates, still trying desperately to figure out what’s next for me.  That all is getting ready to change.

Now I know.  Now I know why that woman with the two young boys was so nice to me in line to see that kid’s movie.  Now I know why the singular mother is always so nice on the playground when we go.

I understand why I miss going to single “social events” less and less, and why like the Disney Channels more and more.

I get it.

I think it might be time to start filling up my own room.

Homage To A Master

I haven’t said much about anything lately, especially about Death staging a huge celebrity sleepover last week, but for some reason, this struck me as a classic, appropriate of the classic Michael Jackson. You want proof on how much the King of Pop has influenced culture? Look no further. For your amusement: Prison Thriller.

From one single dad to another, rest in peace, Michael.  I might not have “gotten” everything that you did (I never believed some of the more disgusting allegations), but damn, did you leave a legacy.  Thanks for that.

The Bratzification of Little Girl Culture Continues Unabated

First they came for Barbie, but I wasn’t concerned, because I don’t buy my daughter Barbie dolls.

Then they came for Strawberry Shortcake (making her hair long other cosmetic ‘grown up’ changes, but I said nothing, because I still had the old Strawberry Shortcake videos.

Then they came for Dora.

From the Washington Post:

The original Dora the Explorer was an adventuresome girl who appealed to kids regardless of gender. She first aired on television in 1999 and is known for loving baseball and her untraditional pet monkey Boots. She’s an outdoorsy girl who wears shorts and is always exploring.

This fall, though, Dora won’t be the girl many kids have grown to love. She’s growing up. And in the Mattel/Nickelodeon world, that means dumping her shorts for what Dora’s marketers call “a whole new fashionable look.” Though they aren’t revealing Dora’s new look officially until fall, Mattel and Nickelodeon gave a glimpse in silhouette. She’s got longer hair and is wearing a short skirt and pointed shoes. Gone are the shorts, backpack and sneakers of little girl Dora.

This can only end badly. Was there a memo that I missed saying that Dora needed to grow up? Was there an intense national debate on the beautification of female toddler icons? Is this Dora next?

i102.photobucket.com
Que horror!
Obviously we learned nothing from Bratz dolls.