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