Category Archives: Human Interest

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.

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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.

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.

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.

How To StifleThe Pain of Separation

Not long ago, I received an email from a single dad who is going through something similar to what I went through a couple of years back when Grace’s mother and I broke up.  This guy’s marriage crumbled, and he wanted to know how to, paraphrasing his words, avoid the accusations and feelings of abandonment and guilt.

Well, single dads and single moms, here’s my thoughts.

First, let’s be realistic.  Breaking up with a longtime partner or spouse is bad.  Really bad.  I’ve heard it be described as everything from feeling like you were in a serious car accident every day for years to, in one friend’s words, “simply worse than you can possibly imagine.”  I never knew what he meant until a few years ago.

Now, however, I know.  It’s bad.

Feeling of abandonment and guilt, whatever the prior situation, are bound to occur at some point, especially if you have kids, assuming that your family life held a high priority to you.  To put it bluntly, you can’t avoid it.  I might argue, even, that you shouldn’t.  Divorce and separation can feel like a death in a close family; sometimes, you just need to mourn.

But don’t go crazy.

In the situation where you left a spouse or loved one and left children behind, STAY ON TOP OF THE FAMILY SITUATION.  You love your kids, most likely, your kids love you.  You’re a parent, and become no less of a parent because you’re not there 24/7.  The dirty little secret is that very few of us are actually there 24/7 anyway.  But don’t lose track of what your kids are doing.  Ask questions: about school, friends, home, what their likes and dislikes are, everything.  If your kids are too small to answer back, play with them.  Watch movies.  Read with them.  Take them to parks.  In short, be an active parent.  You’ll be amazed at how much less sulking time that gives you.  I still get fidgety if I don’t see my daughter within a certain time period.

Another suggestion I would give would be to learn to tune out the noise.  Obviously, if you’ve been with your partner for any appreciable amount of time, they are going to know you alarmingly well, and one of those things that they will most certainly know and will almost positively take advantage of is which buttons to push.  Listening to the pertinent information and eliminating the noise is a skill that takes time to master, but it will be necessary for your mental health – and it will be your mental health that will allow you to thrive without your significant other.  Remember that, and achieve a zen-like comfort level.

Finally, and this might not seem to be obvious, but get a lawyer if you can.  This person is more than just a person that knows the law, it’s a person that knows the law that you are paying to be on your team.  This simple knowledge will give you an important, and at least in my situation, unexpected emotional boost.  Really it helped.  Also lawyer will give you all sorts of information that you knew, but somehow forgot about when it comes to separation.  It sounds strange, but it works.

Those are a few things that come to mind.  I know that I’ll come up with more.  I’ll keep thinking.

Hang in there!

The Cautionary Tale of Jamie Lynn Spears

Gentlemen,

Watch yourselves and the ones that you are with. Please.

The National Enquirer is reporting that 17 year old Jamie Lynn Spears is now expecting for the second time just three months after giving birth on June 19 to baby Maddie Briann.

And before you say anything about it being from TNE, just remember, they were right about her being pregnant the first time….

They say that Jamie Lynn is desperate to keep the shock­ing news secret and some people close to her are urging her to consider ending the pregnancy.

This newsflash comes courtesy, which probably isn’t the right word, of the Daily Stab.   If true, and one must consider carefully the source, then there are two responses that a responsible Single Dad could give.  One is:

The second thought?  Men, teach your daughters something, please.  PLEASE.  It’s impossible to relay how important being a good father really is to the welfare of your children, and especially girls.

This is not to say that Jamie Lynn doesn’t have a good father; I’ve never known or talked to the man.  But we know for a fact that at least some information on babies didn’t sneak through the adolescent filter.

Family is all important, so much so that I now tend to measure my wealth in familial terms.

Somehow, I doubt we’ll be seeing any more books on the raising of the Spears’ children anytime soon.  I hope not.