Tag Archives: Personal

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.

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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?

One Thing Can Improve Your Co-Parenting Life… And I Have Evidence

A while ago, I wrote a post called A Fact And Forgiveness where I basically said that forgiveness is the key to being in a relationship with your children and your ex, and that accepting your ex as part of your family would eventually make your situation much better.

Well, I have a secret.

I didn’t know that for sure.

Sure, I can talk a good game, but in all honesty, I didn’t know for a fact that forgiveness was the key.  After all, I was in a situation where things were relatively contentious between myself and my daughter’s mother; we would argue or wouldn’t speak at all, and the relationship was strained, to say the least.

So.  It’s would great pleasure that I tell you that I was actually correct.  Tomorrow, with the blessing of the State of Colorado and Grace’s mother, my daughter will be having an extended, meaning weekend, stay over at my apartment.  I would jump for joy, but my legs are a bit sore from an rigorous workout today (ouch).

Sure, I’m quite sure that working hard, paying child support, providing health care, and participating in school events had something to do with it too.  But in the end, my head had to change – and once that it did, everything else fell into place.  And there it is – in the end, I did what needed to be done.

Forgiveness works, people.  Fight when (and if) you have to, but seriously, as the phrase goes, you catch more bees with honey than vinegar.

An Exercise

I was reminded recently that an excellent exercise for both the newly or not-so-newly divorced that I find useful is to actually list out what it is that you are thankful for.  Why?

Well, giving thanks for what you have is a great reminder for what great things you have and for the great things that you have yet to do.  Everyone needs a refresher every once in a while.

With that in mind, here is my list:

I’m thankful that I have a wonderful family, with parents, aunts, uncles, nieces, and cousins all in town within a short distance.

I’m thankful for the fact that my daughter is growing up to be a wonderful little girl.

I’m thankful that I love to cook and can afford to buy some of the good stuff.

I’m thankful that I live in such a wonderful apartment in such a great part of town.

I’m thankful for the view from the living room balcony.

I’m thankful that I at least try to quit smoking, and especially thankful that: 1.  My daughter has never seen me smoke, and 2.  This time, it may take.

I’m thankful for my health insurance.

I’m thankful that I have pets (parrots).

I’m thankful that I have enough space in my apartment that my daughter can have her own room.

I’m thankful that I’m not the only one in my neighborhood that recycles.  So many people are doing it that the recycling bins are continually full.

I’m thankful for this and countless other things.

What are you thankful for?

A Fact And Forgiveness

I would expect that one of the things that lots of divorcees with kids grapple with is relationships with the ex. Speaking from experience, I can say equivocally that this happens… everywhere. You broke up with your ex for a reason, be it infidelity, finances, emotional abuse, or whatever it is… and if you have kids, there is some sort of split relationship, most likely, involving them.

People. People. Let me enlighten you on one irrevocable fact.

You WILL be dealing with your ex for the rest of your life, unless you are in one of the extreme cases where it’s unsafe for you, or your children, to be near the ex. You can’t avoid, ignore, or otherwise shut them out. You may think that there is, but there is not, because the kids are involved, and will be forever.

What does this mean for you, the traumatized, or on the other hand, insufferable other parent?

It means that you will have to get over it. Deal with the other parent. When you have to, converse with the other parent. In fact, consider the other parent, as distasteful as it might be for you or them, part of your family, because when it comes down to it, that is exactly what they are. Not a conventional family in the way that you might like, but a family, nonetheless. Existing children will guarantee this fact. Surely, you will still recall what it is that made you so unhappy with them, fine. You can remember that if you like.

But the key emotion, and the hardest to learn, is this, with all apologies to Don Henely:

Forgiveness.

Even if you don’t love them anymore.

Use Child Time Wisely

I love Saturdays.

Lately, my daughter has been spending a lot of weekends here, which, I have to admit, is wonderful for me. In the past, I’ve heard of a lot of other co-parenting fathers taking their time with their toddler kids to do the fun things, like go on trips, go to playgrounds, and just simply play. The very first excursion that I took Grace and her sister on together when I was still with their mom was to the Art Museum – and Grace was still a little, little baby at that time.

I like to do “fun” things with Grace but I love to plan activities that count towards her future development.

Our most recent weekend adventures involve the “learning” Leapfrog videos. If you’re not familiar and have a toddler, I can’t recommend them enough. Right now our family is a little obsessed with the Letter and Word Factory DVDs, which are fun for me and for her no matter how many times we see them. Better still, the DVDs come equipped with learning games that teach your kids skills, like recognizing words that rhyme, or letters. She gets to acquire skills that she will be able to use for the rest of her life; I get to swell with pride at her increasing ability to communicate like a big kid.

You can’t get a better win/win situation.

Being that I have no idea what she’s learning when she’s with Mom, I figure that exposing her to as many opportunities to learn while she’s with me is the best thing that I can do for both of us.

But we also went to the playground.

Ah, the wonders of the toddler attention span.

Protect Your Name And Your Reputation

Something that you need to definitely have to do when you divorce is watch yourself, and watch your name. Google it if you have to. I have personal experience with this phenomenon.

My present girlfriend had the wonderful experience of being stalked by her ex. He started a website solely for the purposes of trying to make my girlfriend look bad, put her down, and talk about personal information. He would put pictures on his site and allude negatively towards her work habits, personal experiences, and et cetera. Absolutely a prince, you might say. Eventually, it took a threat from the FBI, local law enforcement, and various websites being pulled from free sites for violations of terms of service to make him cease and desist.

My ex is similar, but does a different kind of stalking. On her MySpace page, (a page that which I read regularly) she describes how miserable she is and attempts to slam me as having a drinking problem and being an irresponsible and deadbeat dad… despite my regular OVER payments for child support – never missing a payment, regular visits, and general overall support. The reason that I am not with her is that we don’t get along. I DO want to be with my child 24/7. It’s a huge difference, and an emotionally and legally expensive one.

Solutions? I’m not sure that I have one, and if anyone has any great ideas, then I’m all ears. I’m already considering legal action.  However, if your breakup with your ex was acrimonious, then learn to use Google. Be your best private detective. Keep a journal It can be a little annoying and perhaps may cause you fume a bit, but make sure that you have all the possible information. At least that way, if you decide to follow through, then you’ll have all the information. Over at WiredSafety.org, they have a lot of great information about cyberstalking and a number of other Internet crimes.

Here’s one that you can write down; despite any odd thing that I might see in her behavior, actions, or choices, you will never see me slam her in print. That’s no better than gossip, and despite the fact that our relationship didn’t work out, she does have good qualities for someone else. That won’t stop me from being the dad of a three year old.

Remember as well; self improvement is the best form of revenge.