Friday, June 26, 2009

A family for me

There are few times where I have been envious of my married friends. I have been there, done that.

Twice. I am not in any hurry to do that again.

I think I have done rather well as a single father. In fact, I have no doubt that I am a much better father as a single parent than I ever was when I was married.

As a single father, I never walk on egg shells worried that I will upset or disappoint their mother, never worry about someone correcting my parental skills, never have my children see me argue with their mother like we did all too often when we were together, nor have they asked what I said or did to their mom when they see me in the morning sleeping on the couch.

I am certainly not a perfect parent. I have and will again get upset with my girls. When I do get upset, I tend to yell and there is no confusion that Dad is mad. However, after a few minutes, my girls and I are right back to our normal routine of being goofy together and having a good time.

They adore me and I them. I can’t even begin to describe how thankful and fortunate I am to have them in my life. I also can’t imagine that any of us could be any happier than we are now.

However, this afternoon while grabbing some groceries with my girls in tow, I saw something that made me wonder if my girls are being cheated by their mother and I no longer together.

Walking down an aisle in the store, a family of four crossed our path and I stopped and watched them interact with each other.

The father was pushing a cart with a toddler girl facing him firmly fastened in the seat. The two were cooing and cawing with each other with big grins on their faces. Nothing could distract the two of them as they were obviously having fun making funny noises and faces.

A few feet in front of the two, the mother was pointing out canned vegetables to her son who looked to be the same age as my kindergarten-age daughter. She was telling him the importance of eating healthy and he was asking questions about various kinds of vegetables.

After he picked out a couples cans, the mother grabbed them, turned around, and walked back to her husband and younger daughter at the cart. She placed them inside and then kissed both husband and daughter. She then gave them the sweetest, kindest smile as she walked back to the front with her son.

Seeing this, I could not help but wonder if my girls would ever know what a normal, healthy, loving relationship between two adults is about. I grew up with divorced parents and never saw either of them in a good relationship in the eight years that I went back and forth between the two.

I have to believe that has had a big effect on my own inability to make a marriage work. The last thing I want is my girls later in life to struggle over and over again in relationships like their parents.

Continuing to watch them, Savannah brought me back to my own family.

“Dad? What are you doing?”


“Why are you just standing there looking at them?”

“Sorry babe. I was just watching them. They look happy together.”

“Yep. But, not as happy we will be when get home and get in the pool. We are always happy when you go swimming with us.”

She grabbed my hand and we headed back to Shelby, Alani and our own cart of food that we would be cooking later with their older sister Kern. May not be the ideal family, but it is our family.

Savannah was right. When we do things like swim together, we are happy.

And, I don’t need to be married to their mother to do that.


ZenMom said...

Families come in all shapes and sizes. Cliche', perhaps. But still true. And "happy" is way better than "normal" (whatever that is!) in my book. :)

Irish Gumbo said...

It is definitely true that a family is what you make of it. If you spend all your time worrying that yours isn't "normal" then it won't be, because you are too caught up in worry.

I have the same reaction when I see similar scnearios while out in public, but then I remind myself, that I am seeing only a small slice of time in the lives of the other people. The parts you don't see could be hell on earth.

I think your daughter got it spot on. Happy is what you make it, and she said it very well.

Debbie said...

well said! it has taken me time to see me and my 3 as a 'family' and it has taken them time too..but I believe that it has finally happened! it just took time!

Ashley said...

Such big wisdom from a little child! As others have said, happy is what you make it.

I, too, do the same thing, though. I see families with a father present and wonder if my son is being robbed. But he is just so loved and so full of joy and so happy and we have so much fun together, that I can't imagine he's being sold short in any way at all!

Great blog! I enjoyed it.

Not a soccer mom said...

I have been raising my three kids on my own into their teens for the past 11 yrs.
There are plenty of happy couples that our children come across in life. It is definitely the interaction with the guardian in their lives, be it dad, mom, grandparents, same sex couple, happiness is learned.
Andi it sounds like you have a healthy happy relationship with them. Doesnt have to be a happy couple they see.

Daddy Geek Boy said...

I got notting to add here Coachdad. Well written as always.

Barefoot Dreamer said...

Oh Coachdad, just as good the second time around....

Susan said...

You got me with this post. I'm divorced but now so happily remarried - and I had several years in between alone raising my two little girls.

Continue to swim with your girls and enjoy that happiness. And hat's off to you for taking the high road of parenting as a divorced father. As much as I dislike my ex and disagree with so many of his values, choices and parenting ways, I still cry for my girls who only get 4 days a month with him because that's what he has chosen to provide them, as work has always come first.

For years I hear comments after their every-other-weekend visits with their Dad about how the little time they have with Daddy is my fault, and how I take his money and make Daddy poor... and I could go on and on and on. And he makes 6 digits x 2 at least and chooses to consult on the other side of the country.

But it's all my fault.

I just hope one day my girls will grow to realize the truth on my side... but now that's just an entirely different story. My therapist ensures me kids are brilliant.

But how sad that my girls will then learn that about their dad. As their mother, I want to protect them from it all.

Me Thinks said...

Wow, what a sweet post. I have these same exact thoughts and while I'm so grateful for the family we have built ourselves, I still feel like maybe they are getting cheated out of something.

Love your writing!

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