I’m fortunate that my job has a benefit of 3 day weekends from Friday to Sunday, but like many co-parenting dads, the bulk majority of my time with my daughters (adjusting out school hours and work) is every other weekend. So when my buddies decided to plan a man trip on a weekend I had custody of my daughters, I had my reservations about…well…making reservations. Sure, I could swap weekends (which is what we did) but my children wouldn’t understand why they would go twice as long before seeing me and that bothered me.
One of the things I learned entering the world of single parenting is that in all of the freedoms that it affords you is an equal amount of control that is lost over your life. That seems to what happens as a parent in general, but you find yourself in a lot of positions where your custody schedule rules your life. Decisions that would have been made as a family, like moving cities for a better job, moving to be closer to family, or scheduling work hours becomes a concern of how it fits into your ability to see your kids.
Sometimes you have to be selfish.
One of the things that really struck me lately is that sometimes the most unselfish thing we can do is be a little selfish. A lot of times as parents we forget who we were before we brought a baby into our lives. To add another level to that, a lot of times as single parents we forget who we were before we handed divorce papers…or found your stuff sitting on the curb.
Listen, I love my daughters and I would do anything for them. I also have friends that love me no matter what and they wouldn’t give a shit if I wasn’t able to go on the trip.
I needed that trip, though.
I couldn’t help that many of my friends moved out of state over the years.
I couldn’t help that many of them were buried with work schedules.
I couldn’t help that the weekend the vast majority could make work was one I had my daughters.
I couldn’t help a lot of things in my life, but I was tired of missing out and I needed just this once to not miss out. And you know what, I think I’m a better father for it. I came back, picked up my little girls, and I felt a sense of normality. They hugged me, they loved me, and we returned to our normal schedule.
Don’t forget who you are. Don’t forget your friends. Enjoy life. Send your little ones to grandpa and grandmas for an evening. Meet your obligations as a father, but put a priority on your mental health (even if that means getting away with the buddies for a weekend), because the best you for your children requires doing what makes you the best you.
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