The Hardest Part

You are in for a real treat today because I have twisted Twindaddy’s arm and wouldn’t let go until he guest posted. Lucky for him, he’s a really fast typist (and I’m tragically weak and easily distracted). I am a longtime fan of his writing because he is massively versatile; he pivots between his irreverent Blunt Life Coach posts to tender, gorgeous writing about his kids and fatherhood with ease. Today, I’m excited to have him share his story about single fatherhood. If you aren’t already, be sure to follow Stuphblog on Facebook and Twitter.

I am both thrilled and honored that Emily asked me to fill her space up with my inane words. I choose to believe that she asked because she actually thinks I’m good writer instead of the likely reality that she just didn’t have any ideas for today. Please don’t burst my bubble.

Emily dubbed this here weblog The Waiting along with the tagline “It’s not the hardest part.” Or, at least, that was the case at one time. It’s true, waiting is not the hardest part. Let me tell you what is.

Being a part-time father.

Sadly, I’ve been through a failed marriage. Or two. There were many things addressed during the separation and resulting divorce. How to talk to your children about divorce. Don’t talk about your former spouse negatively to the children. Let the children know that none of this was their fault. Ensure the children know both parents still love them. This is all great advice and, quite frankly, I found it all to be common sense. I didn’t need to be told these things. Watching your parents’ marriage fall apart is hard enough without having the added trauma of one of your parents spouting disparaging remarks about the other.

The twins were six when I left their mother. They were old enough to know something horrible was happening, but not old enough to truly comprehend exactly what. All they knew for sure was that daddy didn’t live with them anymore. The next few months resulted in a major bout of depression for me and an incessant barrage of questions from them. Why can’t you come home, daddy? Why don’t you love mommy any more? Mommy said you’re a cheater, what does that mean?*

*I did not cheat. Never have, never will.

Answering those questions was emotionally draining. I hated, absolutely hated, breaking my children’s hearts. In addition to the questions, there was the separation. The time away from them. I hadn’t spent more than two or three days away from my children in almost 7 years. I went from seeing them on a daily basis to seeing them maybe two days a week. I often laid in my bed (which at the time was a couch) crying at night. I’d often break down at work and have to take extra breaks so I wasn’t crying in front of coworkers or, more embarrassingly, customers. I was alone and morose. My heart and mind were vacant. The lights were on but no one was home. I missed them terribly. I was a wreck. I was put on antidepressants. They helped to an extent, but did nothing to fill the gaping maw in my heart.

Not being able to see my children on a daily basis was something I struggled with for years. Five years, in fact. It was just after my third child was born five years later that I no longer noticed the constant assault of little feet on my floors was missing. Five years until I didn’t notice the endless cries of injustice directed towards the Xbox. Half a decade until I didn’t notice the house wasn’t a wreck because they weren’t there. It took that much time and the birth of a new son for me to finally come to terms with what I had lost. I no longer felt the leviathan void in my heart. At least, not like I once did. It had lessened considerably, but it didn’t really affect me like it had. I no longer felt that hollow pang when I walked by their deserted room. I no longer bawled when I walked into their uninhabited room, staring at the particular spot on the futon where they would sit and play Xbox.

Once I realized that I had finished weeping over the lost time with my sons I felt guilty. Why didn’t I miss them as much as I used to? Why does it no longer affect me? Does this make me a bad father? The reality is, it has been 7 years since their mother and I divorced. The fact is that I’m used to it now. I’m used to not seeing them every day now. It sucks, but that is one of the many consequences of divorce.

Despite everything, though, the twins have grown into fine young men. They both struggled with the divorce for a few months, but eventually overcame it through counseling. They are well-mannered, incredibly intelligent, and have my sarcastic sense of humor (which irritates me sometimes – thanks for hoping they’d be just like me, mom). I can only conclude that this was all harder on me than it was for them. At least, I hope it was. I did my very best to minimize the impact this would have on their lives and I still make my life decisions with them in mind.

The waiting is indeed not the hardest part. Neither is changing poopy diapers. Teaching them to walk? No big deal. Teaching them to talk? Easy. Potty training? Simple. Sending them off to their first day of school? Piece of cake. Missing out on half of your children’s lives? That is the hardest part.

Featured Image: These People Don’t Sleep by Ben Austin

 

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93 comments

  1. You are a wonderful father and you described my feelings of “missing”. XOXO, friend.

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Thank you. I do the best I can.

  2. I too had to watch my parents go through a divorce, only I was old enough to understand everything and it was heart breaking. Even thought things did get better and its been over 10 years it is still very hard sometimes.

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      It’s horrible for everyone involved. Truly.

  3. Being in the early stages of a divorce this hits home. I have four kids ages 11-15 all capable of grasping what this means. I’m still in the house seeing them off to school each day, eating dinner with them and sending them to bed each day. When the all leave in the morning for school there’s a void I feel. I know they will be home later but this void is a reminder of what’s to come. There will come a time when I go to bed alone, don’t see them off to school or send them to bed, at least not on a daily basis. That idea is more than I can comprehend even and I have no idea how I will handle those days when they arrive.

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Honestly, I made it through the initial stages of this with antidepressants and a lot of crying. The only thing I can recommend is to find ways to occupy your time otherwise you’ll sit and dwell on what you’ve lost.

  4. Thanks for sharing your story. So often we don’t think of divorce from the father’s perspective.

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Thank you for reading.

  5. As always, a great post. You pierce to the heart of the matter, and being a part-time father myself, I empathise in so many ways. This blog is honoured by your post, my friend.

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Thank you, Simon, for your kind words. Being a part-time father is better than not being one at all, but it’s still a tough situation to deal with.

      1. You’re not wrong in that. What am I missing when he’s not here? What role is his step-father playing? How does he view me as a man, if my relationship with his mother failed? It IS tough. But we soldier on, for the heart and love of our children.

        1. Twindaddy · · Reply

          Yeah…there’s a lot of those questions. Luckily they were 6, so I was there for the majority of their firsts. With Baby C, I’m not quite that lucky.

          1. You so eloquently express these feelings, I feel very lucky to have the chance to read your words. Keep it up.

            1. Twindaddy · · Reply

              Thank you. You’re too kind.

              1. Don’t start that nonsense again, you know I’m not ‘too kind’ at all :-)

                1. Twindaddy · · Reply

                  I do, actually. But likewise, you know…

  6. Beautifully written.

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Thanks, CB.

  7. CT, I can only give you a big hug after reading this. :)

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Thank you, TJ. That’s more than enough.

      1. :) I’ll keep the cookies then. hehe

        1. Twindaddy · · Reply

          Lol. Thanks?

          1. You’re welcome! They quite tasty too…hehe

            1. Twindaddy · · Reply

              Great! I’m glad you liked them.

              1. *thinks* He said great…*sigh* the smoke isn’t appearing -_-. Mission failed.

                1. Twindaddy · · Reply

                  Ha! I knew the hat was lurking somewhere. I win!

                  1. It’s always there! :)

                    You win. This time. *vanishes*

                    1. Twindaddy · ·

                      Buh bye.

  8. You are such a strong person and the fact that you can so eloquently describe your pain and healing is beautiful.

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Thanks, Susan. I’m not as strong as I appear, I think, though.

      1. You’re stronger than you give yourself credit for….you rose above some tough challenges to still be a great person and a terrific dad.

        1. Twindaddy · · Reply

          Thanks.

  9. You are an awesome dad…and I’m glad your mom got her wish! Sarcasm is good.

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Thanks, Jaded. My mom got her wish indeed. They give it right back to me.

  10. Great guest post. My heart was hurting, but I’m telling myself all is well now. I hope it is!

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Yes, all is well now. We have all healed and moved on. Still, if I could, I would have them every day.

  11. On the other hand, it sounds like you and the twins managed to get past at least some of the hardest parts of it, and stayed in each others lives.

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      We did. They adjusted much quicker than I did. Kids are amazing like that.

  12. I remember seeing this play out from my kid’s point-of-view. He was ten at the time but the adjustment from seeing his dad every day, to only a few days a week, to now only set times during the year was hard for a while. Seven years later and now it’s our “normal”.

    You are doing what you can, which is more than what a lot of other parents do. Keep up the good work.

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Yeah, we have our “normal” too. Not exactly ideal, but not horrible either.

  13. I am not “gloating” with anything I might write here. I wanted to start off with that because I know how easy it is for people to hide behind a computer screen. I liked the honesty of this post. I grew up as the oldest from a divorced household and then within a re-married Brady Bunch style. The ‘new dad’ I ended up with made things all worthwhile though I will share with you here something I’ve never confessed with anyone, not my wife, no one (see how easy it is to hide behind a computer?). I sometimes ache for my divorced parents – why could they not work things out? I know it’s not that simple. I once left my wife. It was miserable and likely I will never, ever write about that time in my life in my own blog because I like that stage of life being buried. We were lucky, very lucky, that we beat the statistics, got back together and have enjoyed a remarkable past 13 years (and counting). I swore, SWORE, to myself I would never get divorced! I almost broke that promise. Your post here reinforced for me just how lucky I am that we made it. Thanks for sharing your pain.

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Hey, if you beat the odds you should be proud of it. Getting divorced was not a decision I made lightly. I was terrified of the change and what it would do to my children, but in the end it was something I had to do. I won’t get into the dynamics of that marriage here, but suffice to say I stayed in it much longer than I should have.

  14. Golden . Like ponyboy and sodapop

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Thanks?

  15. It’s really interesting to see this from a parent’s view. As a child of divorce and no marriages or babies of my own yet, it can be hard to relate to the other side of the story, and actually wasn’t really something I had thought much about before now. Thanks for sharing your experience. x

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Thank you for reading it. I, unfortunately, was a child of divorce also, which is one reason I held on so long to an ill-conceived marriage. I did NOT want my children to endure what I had, but for the sake of my sanity I had to do it.

      1. Not all the right decisions are the easy ones are they. And while it can be incredibly painful at the time, it’s usually definitely for the best for everyone involved in the long run.

        1. Twindaddy · · Reply

          It has been the right choice for me, for sure. I’m a much happier parent now than I ever was before.

      2. Not all the right decisions are the easy ones are they. And while it can be incredibly painful at the time, it’s usually definitely for the best for everyone involved in the long run.

  16. Before I read this piece, I was actually thinking about how after having kids, I have absolutely become a mother first and a wife second. Which is why my heart broke for you while reading this. It seems so unfair that doing what might be the healthiest thing for two people can cause such strife and hurt in their roles as parents. I’m glad you have made it onto the “other side” of it, and that your twins have grown into such wonderful young men…likely because of your being a wonderful father to them through all the rough stuff.

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      I did the very best I could, and you’re absolutely right about the role-reversal when you become a parent. EVERYTHING changes.

  17. Thank you for sharing this! It really was powerful to get a different perspective than what we’re used to in the mainstream!

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      You’re welcome! Thank you for reading!

  18. Wow… Very well written, I *felt* everything you were saying. I am glad your sons are doing well!

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and for your kind words.

  19. *hugs* You’re such a good papa, TD. Thanks for sharing this side of your story.

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Thanks, Rawra.

  20. You are a pretty wonderful guy, TD. You’ve done your best with everything. I know your boys are incredibly lucky.

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Thanks, Elyse. That means a lot.

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Thank you.

  21. Beautifully written, as always. You’re a great Dad, TD.

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Thank you, CK.

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Sadly, it happens all the time.

  22. Wow – I’m sorry that all happened (as you mentioned in other comments, it does happen a lot), but am glad that you were able to keep in touch with your kids and still be part of their life!

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Thank you. It’s tough, for sure.

  23. I blame all of it on the emergence of Xbox,,just saying.
    Great post Td once again!

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Um, blame what on the xbox?

      1. Nevermind I was just trying to be a smart ass. Clearly that was a fail lol.

        1. Twindaddy · · Reply

          Sigh, now I have to punish you for you failure to be a smart ass…

          1. I know, I know i’m loosing my smart assiness. I’m working on getting back on my game.

            1. Twindaddy · · Reply

              Alright…I’ll forgive you this time…

  24. Wow. You are an incredible writer. You conveyed those emotions you felt so powerfully. I’m so sorry for that pain you felt. You are clearly a wonderful father and I’m quite sure all your children feel that way. You have a new follower! I look forward to reading more.

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Thank you for all of your kind words!

  25. This post reminds me of a juicy novel I can’t put down in the middle of the night. And I have to read it using a flashlight under the covers so the light will not disturb my hubby.

    Yes, maybe you have lost forever half your children’s lives to date. But they’re still young. there is the future ahead of you. There is all the opportunity to pursue this connectedness. It’s not the end of your story. Nor your journey. So, there were a couple of glitches, major detours, some repairs needed. But there is still all the opportunity to tell them and show them how important they are to you. For the next 50 years even!

    If the relationship was truly unsalvageable, then it would have been worse if you remained an intact family. It could have been worse hell and more damaging for the kids.

    Thanks for allowing us to see how these play out for the fathers in these events. It is all so heart-wrenching. I saw how my sister and her two boys suffered through her divorce more than 10 years ago. Her Ex had cheated on her and had told her that if she wanted to stay married to him, she would have to accept that the other woman was not going away. It has taken about the first 10 years for the three of them to be “normal,” by their definition. I never got to talk to her Ex. I can only hope he’s happy with his choice to keep the other person in his life.

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      I have come to terms with it. My first wife was abusive, which is why I left the marriage. I stayed as long as I could, but couldn’t endure it any more. I’ve come to terms with what I’ve lost but I would still rather have them every day. As I said in my post, they adjusted to it far quicker than I did. Kids are amazing like that.

      1. It looks like your situation is like those scenes on the plane when there is an emergency. We are all instructed to put on an emergency oxygen mask first on ourselves and then put on our children’s next. You had to save yourself first so you can continue to be a father to your children. It takes guts to walk away even from hell.

        1. Twindaddy · · Reply

          That’s what I hear. There were a lot of things I was scared of, but I finally reached the end of my rope and with that the fear went out the window.

  26. Really wonderful post Twindaddy! I am so slow on the uptake, but I JUST finally got the name: Twindaddy. Duh. This was so visceral and heartfelt that it all just came together and I got the point you are making, and the name… in one fabulous explosion of “Aha!” Thanks for sharing. I so enjoyed this.

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Ha! You’re cracking me up!

      1. I seem to have that effect on some people. But I’m not being funny about the post: wonderful!

        1. Twindaddy · · Reply

          Thank you!

  27. Beautifully said. I can’t imagine how difficult life must be for parents in divorce situations.

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      I think it depends on the parent. Far too often the children are used as pawns in divorces. Me, I just want what’s best for them.

  28. TD, it breaks my heart how often we overlook the man’s perspective of a divorce, especially when children are involved. So glad you shared this; it’s a tearjerker.

    1. Twindaddy · · Reply

      Sorry. Wasn’t trying to make anyone cry.

  29. […] took hold and left an impression. I immediately began following him and I’m so thankful he guest posted this piece on Emily’s blog so that I could discover him. I’m sure you’ll remember it and if you missed it, read it […]

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