Category Archives: Personal

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.

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.

What Do Families Do In Denver?

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m rapidly becoming the “doing things” Dad for my 4 year old daughter. I’m not sure how it started, but I kind of morphed into the fun persona as I only get Grace with me a limited amount of time a week, usually on the weekends. Of course, we’ll still do things like read books, color, and watch various cartoons or movies (Disney! Oooh, they’re cunning ones, they are), but I also like to take the the little one out for excursions to art museums, festivals, parks… anything that the Rocky Mountains have to offer.

Of course, doing these things usually takes time, for researching the various activities, and money, for paying for them.

Or, at least one would think.

In my sidebar you’ll notice a link to KidsPages.org, an organization that has a website with various tips, hints, and activities both paid and free for families. They have become my weekly lifeline to largely free stuff – perfect for a guy like me that is busily trying to save money for his daughter’s college choice, lose money from my 401(k), and still maintain a relatively happy techno-geek life with his girlfriend. Yes, it’s all a challenge, but KidsPages.org makes it much easier.

Take a gander over there this weekend. I’m pretty sure that they have a dead tree (paper) version out there as well.

My First Book Review

LibraryThing Early ReviewersYou probably noticed that I haven’t been writing a whole lot lately.

It’s no coincidence, and yes, I’m still alive. I’ve just been busy. Besides doing some writing for Divorce 360 and my own blog, POW – The blog (although that’s been suffering recently – I need to go back to my roots), I’ve been hanging out with the four year old, working quite a bit, and now… reviewing books. As a member of the website LibraryThing, I signed up for the Early Reviewers program. It has its perks.

So, here’s my first review – that I’m going to put with my first freelance paycheck stub and my first volunteer freelance letter. Be kind, because God knows that I have no idea what I’m doing.

Yet.

But all is falling into place. I think.

To say that I fancy myself a poet is not exactly accurate; somewhere in a trunk at home there is a folder with Lord only knows how many pieces of poetry that I wrote in the 80’s and 90’s, when things for me were much bleaker and introspective. I even had some success writing a poem that was published a very long time ago.

Therefore, I looked forward to reading How To Write A Suicide Note by Sherry Quan Lee, a multicultural womanwriting about her grappling with suicide, growing up different, and finding herself. To say that I “liked” the series of “poems” (many of which read more like prose than poetry to me – that seems, in retrospect, apt) is not quite the correct word. This was a great series, but in some ways, was so emotional and passionate, that I actually had difficulty reading them. But then again, I’m often dramatic when it comes to topics of this nature.

This was a very good book that I would recommend to people interested in mental health issues, multiculturalism, self-help, poetry or real-life essays, and if you are a parent, read this and learn.

Let me know what you think. The curiosity is killing me.

Yet Another Of The Talks That I Hope To Give My Daughter

Hey, all! Yes, I know, it’s been quite a while.

I could probably type until my fingers were sore on what I’ve been doing lately, since I was such a regular blogger and all for such a long time, but I won’t. Not because it’s boring (it isn’t), but it’s late, and I’m a bit tired, a bit sick, and a bit blue. But only a bit.

The thing that I forgot, though, was that writing always helps, and so, lo, again I’m here to write to you all, apologizing for my long absence from blogging. Hope that you all are doing well!

Here we are, in the midst of the American Silly Season (others might call it Election Year), and I’ve been spending a lot of time with the 4 year old, Grace, to whom this blog is dedicated. It’s been a trying year, but one of change, and that is, I think, a good thing. But my thoughts turned to post that I wrote quite a while ago called One Of The Talks That I Hope To Give My Daughter and, by jove, I think I have another one.

That post was about drugs. This one is about a topic just as dangerous: relationships.

Being that I’m a single dad, one might surmise, correctly, that my luck with women has not been the best. But, as this man approaches 40, I’m beginning to catch a whiff of what might be a working theory. I’m pretty sure that it would work for women, too.

It would go something like this, I think:

“Grace, you’re getting older now, and I’m sure that you’ll want to date, if you haven’t already. Most of those you might not even tell me about. I hope that you do, but you might not. Before you do, though, let me give you a little advice from an old dad who has been dating for a while.”

“You’re going to meet a lot of people. Some of them will like you for who you are, and some, compulsively, will try to change you. Of those two types, realize that once you realize who you are, and you probably haven’t yet, you won’t change too much. You might pick up or lose a habit; you might gain or lose an interest. Fine. But the whole of you, the person that is you, won’t change, so finding someone that you have something important in common with might be…big.”

“But that isn’t the lesson.”

“The real lesson is to try to not be that person who tries to change the other. That path will not make you happy, and I doubt that it will make the other person happy. Be the best person that you can be, care about the one that you love, respect the relationship that you have, never be afraid to communicate with that person, but be ready to drop and run if you have to.”

“Grow together, improve together, encourage each other, and share everything. EVERYTHING. From the dash of your hairspray, to the bills in the mail, to the joys in your lives. Share it and relish it all. Because, Gracie, if you don’t share it all, the good and the bad, the ugly and the beautiful, you’ll have secrets, and you will not be a couple. You might be a relationship, but not a couple. In the end, that will probably not make you happy, when your being happy is the only wish that I will ever have for you.”

I think, think that is what I might say.

I don’t know, though. Seems a bit long winded. What do you think?

8 Things To Do With Your Goofy Self After The Divorce

After going through the hell of getting divorced, you’re spent.  You’re tired.  You’re lonely.  You feel like you’ve been hit by a car, landed on train tracks and run over by a passing railcar, then knocked into the path of an oncoming bus.  Worse, these seem to be your good days.  But after all that passes, the realization sets in, and you are confronted by a question:

Now what the Hell do I do with myself?

At some point in everyone’s post-divorce aftermath, this bitter but realistic question rears it’s ugly head, and idleness is the Devil’s playground.  Here’s what I do to stem the tide of emotional trouble.

1.  Sign up to and attend functions for Meetup.com.

Meetup.com is a website that helps you to arrange actual face to face meetings with others that share your situations, hobbies, or interests.  I’ve been to a couple of meetups for a couple of groups myself.  I’ve yet to regret it.

2.  Attend local festivals and events.

Summer in Denver is the height of the festival season.  I missed the People’s Fair this year, but if you know where to look, you can always find cheap and free events that have the added bonus of helping you to forget the ex that ran off with the waitress from the bar down the street.  In Denver, you can find these amnesia-producing nuggets at the Denver.org site, and in many cites, you can look for free gatherings in your local independent newspaper of choice.

3.  Spend time with friends and family.

If you are like me or a lot of the people that I know, friends and family FREQUENTLY get kicked to the curb when things start to go sour in your home life.  Now that you’re divorced, there’s absolutely no reason to let that continue.

Reconnect with family and friends.  In the end, they will help you more than you thought possible.

4.  Read a book, then go see the authors of the books that you enjoy.

I’m way behind on my book reading lately, but if you’re so inclined, book reading is a great diversion from ex-spouse wallowing.  Here’s a list of books that I’ve read in the last year or so, and as you can see, I’ve done a lot of diverting.  Even better, you can get your social on and then buy the book and go to a book signing, class, or meet and greet at places like Barnes and Noble, the Tattered Cover, and even your local library.

5.  Enjoy the outdoors.

As the brain becomes addled with breakups, pain, economic hardship, and all, people tend to forget about the wonder of nature – that force to which we are all connected, like it or not.  When was the last time that you walked barefoot in the grass?  Ran in the surf?  Went for a hike?

If you find yourself not remembering when the last time you noticed a fragrant, growing and living flower or watched nesting birds fly overhead, then you haven’t been outside in the air enough.  Make time to do it.  You’ll feel better, I can almost guarantee it.

6.   Spend time with your kids, if you have them.

Perhaps I’m fortunate here.  I get to spend a LOT of time with my daughter.  Plus, she’s an absolute joy to spend time with, which makes life even easier.  But I believe that spending time with your progeny is extremely important.

Here’s a pic to share with you to prove my point.

Grace, with Bear

I call it Grace with Bear.  I believe we had come back from a fair that day.

Years from now, I will have the pictures to prove that I was there.

7.  Get a hobby.

As much as I love surfing the Internet (and this site in particular,) that is not a hobby.  Photography is a hobby.  Scrapbooking, although not recommended, as thoughts of the ex will surely pop up, is a hobby.  Mountainbiking is a hobby.  These things keep your mind engaged, and will keep you from dwelling on the past.

8.  Align yourself with other similarly situated people.

Shameless plug:  I joined Divorce360 for exactly this purpose.  I get information, support, and sympathy from people.  Sometimes that helps.

There’s eight things that I do pretty regularly that help me in my post-breakup life.  Perhaps you can add to the list!

Notice, though, that nowhere did I mention the idea of “exacting the perfect revenge.”  I must be better off than I thought.

Think, Parents!

A cautionary tale for parents, divorced or otherwise.

Yesterday, I was at the park with my daughter, Grace, her half-sister Noelle, and their mother.  It was a gorgeous day, and the playground was relatively close to the kids’ school and two other schools, but when we arrived, there were no other children there.  We stuck close and let the kids play in the sand.

I scanned the area.  Nothing particular was out of whack; it was, quite simply, a very simple park, with playground, a port-a-potty (yuck!) and a large, fairly well restored plantation-looking house that I could only assume was some sort of neighborhood gathering place or clubhouse back in the day.

At about the time that I started explaining to Grace that the loud pecking that we heard on the house was simply a very loud woodpecker, I noticed one thing out of place.

One middle aged man in a lawn chair.  Sitting about a block away from us at the other edge of the park looking at nothing in particular.

My parental instincts made a loud buzzing sound.  It was very similar to the sound the inside of my head used to make when a good-looking woman was within some distance of my personal space, but I hadn’t seen her yet.  I used to call it a Spider Sense, after the character.

While watching and playing with the kids, out of the corner of my eye I kept looking at this pudgy, middle aged man.

After a while of only having one other kid come to the playground, my ex and I watched as two children, then three, of about third grade or so came from the public school nearby and start playing… with the parents nowhere in sight.

We made plans to leave.  However, I wasn’t planning on going anywhere with these kids on the playground, and some grown man across the park, who was still looking… wherever.

Finally, the man folded up his chair, after sitting in the park for what had to have been an hour and a half, packed it into his van (which I know sounds cliched, but it’s true, it was a van) and drive away… after circling the park for a block.

It wasn’t until the van was out of sight until we finally picked up the kids and left.

People.

You might be a single parent.  You might be a couple of parents that both work.  I don’t know what scenarios you might have.  However, the lesson here I think is a good one:  pick up your young children from school.  You never know who might be watching, and if that individual – who might have been no more than a person watching cars drive by in the park, mind you – had harmed your children because they were vulnerable and you were simply too busy to pick them up from school on a regular weekday… well, where would you be then?

Just a story with a happy ending.

Today.