Tuesday, June 2, 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?”

“What?”

“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.

25 comments:

  1. You're absolutely right. You do the best you can with what you got. They're happy, they're healthy, they have food, shelter and quality time with their Dad. Doesn't get any better than that.

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  2. You hit the nail on the head. T
    hat's exactly how I feel - quite often when I see "intact" families. I wonder what my son is missing out on by not having a father. But then I remember what he saw when he HAD a father...then I quit second guessing myself. You never know what's really going on unless you're living it, y'know? And by the sounds of it, your daughters totally get happiness. It's being with you - you give them that!
    Now another issue is seeing the man and woman looking in love. That's a purely selfish jealousy of mine.

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  3. Great post, they always are.
    I love how kids can just point out the obvious and then it just all makes sense.
    You are a great dad!

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  4. your girls are so lucky to have you as their dad and i'm sure you know that. i understand how sometimes you just long to a companionship, but your girl was right, you don't need to be happy when you have the happiest bunch to keep you company :)

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  5. My best friend is a single Dad...
    and to be honest I envy his daughters a little...I never got the level of attention from my Dad who has been happily married to my Mom for over 50 years!
    My friend,Bill is a great father and so are you...
    I think we all do the very best we can and all we can ask of each other is to love and respect one another!

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  6. These little things give me hope...
    Thanks... :)

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  7. You never know what things are like behind closed doors. I've known 'perfect' marriages to end, 'perfect' families to be torn apart when a child gets involved in drugs, etc. A girl I grew up with had one of those perfect, happy families... but I found out years later that her dad sexually abused her.

    Do what you do... be happy in YOUR perfect family.

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  8. Being a single mom of three boys (and being married and divorced twice myself) I honestly do know how you feel. I have worried about if my boys were missing out on things in life not having a family that was whole....but honestly in reality I think we are actually more "whole" then some of the families that have both mom and dad. You girls will learn about love and family thru the life you have with them...just as my boys have and still are learning from our life together. Trust me what you give your girls is way more than alot of kids are getting when they have that so called "whole" family....look around you see it Im sure.....theres so many kids missing out!!!!

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  9. I can't say I necessarily know how you feel... but I agree that if you fulfill your daughters need for love and attention... they will base their relationships on that foundation...

    Trust me, I know about that! :)

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  10. I agree. I grew up in a "broken" family, but my parents stayed married. Let me tell you, there are times I WISHED they had divorced.

    It's so darling how much your girls adore you!

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  11. First - there is no guarantee that the family of 4 you witnessed is not a completely difunctional mess the moment they leave the store and get home.
    Second - You find what you enjoy doing together, and those are your golden moments, even when there are no witnesses. I don't take my boys to the store, and I haven't shopped with their father in a decade because we do not shop well together. None. Of. Us.

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  12. i have to type fast here, got a school bus to catch! but i wanted to tell you... now, as an adult, i WISH my parents would have gotten divorced. they've been making each other miserable now for almost 40 years! i would have loved to have gotten the chance to maybe see one, of not both of them happy.

    hugs!

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  13. I too came from divorced parents. And growing up living with grandparents where the woman was bossy and always in charge I worried about the mom and wife I would turn out to be. I am blessed to be happily married but that doesn't mean I have the perfect family. Sounds like your girls are getting everything they need from you. I wish I would have had a dad who still wanted to be with me. Even if just for a quick swim:c)

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  14. Your daughter got it right--families come in all shapes and sizes, and just b/c a family has a mom and a dad in the same house doesn't mean they're better or worse than a family with one parent. They're just different.

    You're a great dad!

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  15. I have often had those moments! BUT I have learnt that they were cheated of a healthy me when I was in unhealthy relationships! NOW its just me..but a better me!! YOU are a great dad! They will learn and grow and flourish because they are loved by you...

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  16. You are doing a great job. It's better for your girls to see you better off divorced than to see you unhappily married.

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  17. The grass is always greener... but we do the best with what we've got. Sounds like you enjoy what you've got!

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  18. Now you had to go and bring a tear to my eye.

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  19. I grew up with a single mother whom I adore and I couldn't have had a happier childhood. Keep up the good work.

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  20. That gave me the chills but you know, I was thinking that maybe your girls don't personally get to see you and their Mom live that "conventional" healthy relationship BUT it sounds to me like you are teaching those girls how a real man should treat them and to me, well that is even better and more important than conventionality.

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  21. Having grown up in a disfunctional family and later marrying a carbon copy of my father thus creating my very own disfunctional family..... I found the recipe for a happy family to be that the quality of time spent together creates a much happier family than the quantity of time. It is my observation that you are on the right path for creating happy memories for your girls. There are periods of my childhood that I have completely blocked from my memory. My children have the same memory blocks. My only regret is that I waited until my children were grown and on their own before divorcing their dad.

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  22. We create our own family recipes as we go along. You have created yours however it may be. Just keep those two main ingredients, love and respect, and it will always be good. Your daughters will effortlessly repeat that :-)

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  23. Our children can often point out the good parts to us! I think as long as you give of yourself to them, that will count very large in the happiness of their lives. Fathers are SO important to little girls.

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  24. Dude,

    Miss reading of your exploits - where are you?

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