My daddies love America!! And guess what!? I have two daddies.No better way to pick up chicks than with my 6 year old implying I might be gay.
When most of my friends were out partying, hooking up with random girls on the weekends, and going in adventures in their twenties, I was starting a career, getting married, buying a house…and not taking the risk of catching Chlamydia by hooking up with late-night booty calls.
We did; however, catch baby fever.
The doctor had informed us that getting pregnant may prove to be a challenge and could likely take a couple of years. Like an idiot, I interpet this as though it’s like baking a cake. We mix our ingredients together, pop it in the oven, wait for a couple of years (that’s what the doctor said) and boom – BABY ON BOARD!
No, no, no…
Obviously, he was implying the vagina is like a baby-making slot machine with the odds stacked much further against us than for other people.
And yet, we pulled that baby-making lever and the reels lit up with three solid “7”s of fetus jackpot within 2 months of trying.
And then it happehed again, 4 years later.
So, when we ended up divorced, I found myself finally eyeing doing all the things my friends had done in their twenties just as I was entering my thirties…as a single dad of two daughters.
It hasn’t been entirely what I expected. Here’s what I’ve learned from my perspective entering life post divorce as a single dad.
1.) You Have “Me” Time
I think this actually improves parenting abilities. So many other parents are burned out. A weekend away to recharge is the rarity and they end up parenting on empty. When you have split custody, you get time for yourself. You can relax in solitude with a quiet house or go out and have a good time. You can focus on your hobbies and making yourself into a better person and ultimately, as a result, a better father.
- You can actually attend guys night and not feel guilty about stumbling into bed at 3:00 A.M.
- You can join that recreation basketball league without another person’s opinion on why you should be home helping put the kids to bed.
- You can take that sporadic weekend getaway to recharge so that when the kids come back to your place, you’re ready to be the best father you can be.
2.) Except, You Can’t Choose Your “Me” Time
Unfortunately, for all the times you get a break to recharge, you don’t have a lot of choice on when. You get time to focus on yourself, but a court order arranges the schedule.
Had a rough day at work and feel like grabbing a beer with coworkers? No problem…only if you don’t have the kids that evening.
Did your buddy from high school fly into town for a funeral and invite you out to catch up? You have the kids though and you’re left trying to prioritize whether you should meet up with a friend you rarely see (assuming you could even find a sitter) or choose your children that you see half as often as you wish.
Either way, you feel pretty shitty, because you’re either shipping your children you already see infrequently to grandma’s house or missing out on seeing a friend you may not have the opportunity to see again in a very long time.
On the flip side, sometimes you just plain find yourself wishing your kids were around when they’re not. Just because you can go out doesn’t mean there’s anything worth going out to, but staying at home can be eerily quiet.
3.) It Is Fucking Exhausting
For all those times you get to relax with “me” time when your kids are at their mom’s place, the actual effort required in being a single parent is far more exhausting when you do have them around. There’s no one there to help change diapers, help with the laundry, help scrub crayon off the walls, or help with a meal.
It’s you and only you against a pooping ball of toddler energy you can’t keep up with.
- Getting them dressed seems to take 4 times longer.
- Getting them into the car leaves you out of breath.
- Rounding them up for bath time is like chasing a chicken in the form of a small, naked human.
You might only be seeing your kids half the time, but when you do actually have them it seems to be three times the effort and make that time fly by 10 times faster. Let’s just say that night out for “me” time is well deserved for any single parent.
4.) No Hate, But People Only Seem to Appreciate That For Single Moms
Single dads have a bad stigma about them.
Society paints them as distant, un-engaged, and more caught up with getting involved in a new relationship than putting any priority on their children. The reality is, single dads out there are doing the same amazing job single mothers are.
It isn’t that I’m butt hurt or think we need validation, but I think societally single moms have become these sort of unsung heroines. Rightfully so, I love single moms and women should be cheerleading for each other, but I’ve just noticed that anything and everything that seems to be posted in regards to praising single parents tend to be directed entirely at single moms. That isn’t something I really noticed until I became a single dad.
So, I’m going to take an opportunity here to praise all the single fathers that deserve that praise!
5.) What You Don’t Know, You Gotta Learn (Fast)
Nothing like being thrust into the role of Mr. Mom overnight. Unless you plan on eating out with a family of 3 every day, you best learn how to cook. And unless you want your kids telling your ex-partner that you only feed them TV dinners, then you better make sure you’re learning to cook more than a microwave meal.
If you’re a dad to two little girls, prepare to learn how to buy bras and prepare to be introduced to the world of stocking up on tampons at some point. Hopefully, you can communicate with their mother to work on some of that, but there’s still so much stuff that just isn’t instinct for us men to want to learn or have interest in.
I think everything I own in my closet can be tossed in the washer and dryer and left to tumble. If you weren’t doing laundry for your family already, well then you better read the damn tag because if you shrink your daughter’s favorite skirt, you’re going to have problems.
Ask me how I know.
6.) There Are Some Things You Just Can’t Do
I’m not just talking about a lack of mammary glands, though that’s likely a big one for single fathers with breast feeding babies.
I’m looking at you female restrooms. The first time your daughter is in the bathroom for 30 minutes and you’re begging other women to check in on her is the first time you realize this is going to be an absolutely new frontier for you.
Oh, and can we have a moment of silence for the fathers who have changed their children on a bed of paper towels due to non-existent diaper changing stations. There is a prime example of dad’s being overlooked.
7.) It Is Frustrating As Fuck Watching Another Guy In Their Life
I know the children in the middle class says to just focus on what’s best for your kids, but watching some dude be the first one to take your daughters to Disney World is a punch in the gut. You have child support draining your paycheck while struggling to save up for a day at Six Flags and you’re just supposed to put on a smile when your kids are telling you about their trip to Disney.
You see pictures of your children online laughing and being tossed in the air and you can’t help but feel like some other guy is intruding into the time you should be spending with them. They’re waking up Christmas morning to stockings on another guy’s fireplace, to a bunch of amazing toys another guy is spoiling them with and your children don’t understand that you can’t afford to buy them an Xbox this year because you don’t have a partner to split the mortgage with like their does.
8.) You Realize the Child Support System is Flawed
Where I live (Iowa), child support and primary custody are based entirely on overnights. If your job requires you to work overnight shifts, you’re pretty much fucked, even if you can still muster up spending 50% of your time with them somehow. So, even if you have them 50% of quality time, if the other parent has an extra night, that quality time doesn’t matter.
The amount you pay in child support isn’t entirely based on the amount of time spend with them. In fact, there are often baseline minimums, so even if you had your kids 49% of the time, the child support due isn’t proportional to that. You could end up technically seeing and financially supporting your kids 49%, but still be required to pay out an amount of child support as though you had them only 40% of the time.
The short of it is that the child support system is outdated and often unfairly punishes one parent (the father for the purposes of this blog) financially in a way that makes him more of a financial subsidizer than enabling him to, ya know, be a fun dad.
9.) Meeting Women Is Often Easier
You’ll have similar challenges you can sympathize with single moms and there are women out there that will find your dad bod (and dad personality) so sexy! Kids often provide a great reason to be at parks or other places you can meet people, and as they’re playing, you can spark up a conversation with the moms.
Plus, kids are often great at forcing (sometimes awkward) conversation themselves.
My daughter, for instance, once informed another lady that she had two daddies. This was the perfect opportunity for me to clarify that I wasn’t gay, she just had another father figure in her life with her mom’s boyfriend. We chatted and exchanged numbers.
10.) But Dating Them Poses Extra Challenges
Children’s custody schedules don’t always align and getting kids involved too early is problematic. You’re often left sneaking in after they fall asleep, scheduling sitters, or just plain letting fizzling out in hopes of connecting with someone that shares a more similar custody schedule.
Plus, depending upon their age, you end up in situations where parents are stuck in certain communities in order to keep their kids enrolled in a certain school district.
It isn’t that you can’t date a single mom who lives 40 minutes away when you’re a single dad, you can jusy expect a lot of commuting and holding off on moving in together for quite awhile. If that’s cool with each other, great! However, a lot of couples are going to want to move in or marry at some point and the logistics of that is complicated.
And then, you’ve also got a fair number of women who have zero interest in being involved with someone who has kids. Some don’t want to be tied down with the restrictions parenting brings. For others, they don’t even consider the idea of dating a single dad because they want to enjoy “firsts” of parenthood with someone. They have this dream of a perfect marriage, perfect family, perfect white picket fence and none of it includes someone else’s kids or someone who has already lived that life once with someone else.
That’s okay because we all have our standards.
11.) People Will Often Credit The Mom
I take pride in picking out clothes for my daughters. I converse with the store employees, figure out what looks good together, take inspiration from pictures, and get a female friend’s opinions. My kids look cute when I dress them.
But guess who gets all the glory!? I go out and people say, “oh, your mommy put you in such a cute outfit today!”
The other day I went out and bought a curling iron because my daughter wanted to curl her hair for the first day of school. I watched Youtube videos until I thought I could replicate the curls. I couldn’t, but I tried! Another mom commented “Oh, your hair looks cute! Did your mommy do you hair this morning?”
Oh, hell nah, that was all me!
And you know what, I’m damn proud it was me! I’m proud of everything I’ve done as a single dad.
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