It’s hard enough dating and even harder as a parent!
I remember the teenage years fumbling around along side friends and every kiss felt like love. A euphoric time where societies constraints hadn’t quite set in yet and the only thought was that of how you felt. A phase in our existence that now twenty five years later feels more like a dream.
As a teen dating I’d get a lot of comments of how I was just like my father, followed by demeaning opinions like I wasn’t in the room. It took years to comprehend the paradox’s adults spoke. When my father was around women praised him and when he was gone they hung him like dirty laundry. I went through many step-moms, some soft like a sing-song Walt Disney voice and others mad and frothing from the mouth. Hard to understand that my dad was a man as well as a father.
At moments in life I vowed to not leave a path of tears behind me and at other times I could not fathom why it didn’t work out.
At the age of thirty it happened.
After ten years and four children it was over. A surreal moment where nothing makes sense and almost every habit or pattern in life needs to change in order to move on. Courts and arguments like a UFC event that divides family among the bleachers picking sides and taunting your choices.
The loneliness sets in and it hits you harder then ever before in life. Either all your friends are still married or like me you made life decisions and moved across the country for your spouse. It’s even harder if your one of those children that has had the phrase burnt into your head “Your just like your Father”. Now I have come full circle and looking into my children’s eyes I hear the voices talking through them, asking the same questions that I myself was confused about. This has got to be the hardest moment for a parent. Helpless and vulnerable. Then after the kids go to bed it’s dead silence. Even on the good days you turn, in joy, with no ones there to share.
So you reach out!
This isn’t the teen age years and dating isn’t even close to the same. This very moment is when most people are angry and hating the opposite sex, whether they want to admit it or not. That innocent gaze is replaced with scrutinizing defenses which raise alarms that you may be just like their ex. Paying for sins on both sides of the sex’s due to your amour being just as strong. No one wants to go to that point again.
Meeting someone has changed exponentially. No more high school social or easy places to mingle. People wear their scars for you to see and have either started to self medicate or drown the pain away. At times it feels like you’re anchored if the person is without children and have to say no too many nights for the greater good. While you watch others spend more time out than with their kids. The days of meeting someone through a friend have ended and dating APP’s are the new introduction methods. A feeding frenzy of lonely fish swimming in a cyber sea.
My father had passed away years ago but i had never felt more close to him than now.
As a dad dating you meet many types of women and if you are unaware you may get caught up in the many webs they weave. I don’t say this lightly and with no malice. I have learnt from every woman that has come into my life whether that be a good example or a bad one. Some people just don’t want to move on and live in circles chasing their tails with the fear of getting hurt creating reasons of why this won’t work. Others don’t have the coping mechanisms to live on their own and jump from one partner to the next in a self destructive denial. I’ve met women that couldn’t or did not have kids and you realize that it’s not you they want but who you are protecting. Truth be told everyone’s raised different and connecting is like figuring out a combination lock with thousands of possibilities but only one code to open.
My father lived through the first generation of single dads as a main stream and I have so much respect for how many hoops he must of jumped through to keep me safe. The government gave out a mothers allowance and the system wasn’t ready for the mass numbers of divorces. Most dads went with societies picture and left the home creating a stigma of dead beat dads. This stained men and the critical opprobrium they have generated.
I am the second generation of single fathers. The dad that goes to school to pick up his children and stands alone, or the customary head nod of men walking by each other. We don’t circle in groups or plan play dates, meet at the park after school or car pool as moms go for coffee. Mom’s bond together in cliques. A support system that’s been there from the dawn of time. Even in dating and if that man isn’t exactly what they want, he’s ostracized across social media as a narcissist or worse. Heaven forbid it wasn’t just the wrong combination or in my case too many children.
When the man and the dad become one.
Raising children does something to you. When you give yourself to it a growth happens. For the first time a true relationship. It educates you in so many ways and at the same time it builds a strength like a Jedi brain, with the constant bombardment of “dad”through out the day. You get to be a part of the learning possess which creates a better comprehension of people. I became soft and loving in front of others and most of all understood that the bro code did not exist. I would do anything for my children and think through this process I’ve gain the appreciation for the Golden Rule- “It’s not about me”. Men don’t understand this but dads do. There is a difference between the two. I’ve seen full grown men throwing tantrums like a child to get their way or an under appreciation for their wives and how much of themselves that they give on a daily basis.
And through dating I’ve seen this on both sides.
The happy ending
Everyone has a Cinderella story and everything will work out in the end. Don’t chase or compromise who you want to be for your kids.
I still identify myself as a single dad. I still raise my four children and now my niece and nephew on my own. I still get up every morning and drive my kids to school and pick them up after. I am still that rock they call dad but this road has led me to a woman. A mother that does the same as me on her own. She has a strength that I admire, which i thought only existed in stories. A beauty that radiates from within and every time I kiss her its like I’m sixteen and that euphoria takes over. She can lip sync every Walt Disney movie and dance like an angel. She shows me a love that I have never experienced before. Loving what was created when the man and the dad became one.
Even though we live two separate lives and meet in the middle. Only get to see each other on planned days or because one of us just happened to have all our kids in the car and took a left after the trip to the store, instead of a right. I know this is the one.
A princess to this peasant and the shoe fits.