One life involves (and centers around) a three-foot bundle of beautiful energy that rivals the air that I breathe. The other life is a more work-centric, but freer existence of popping here or there whenever I need/want.
But there’s no denying this simple fact.
The latter is just a constant reminder of how much better the former really is.
So it is for me and millions of other men who love their children with abandon but are divorced and don’t get to see them every day.
I opened the door to my home tonight and was once again struck by the sense of loss. It’s a weekly calling card of being temporarily childless.
Say what you want about having kids, but be certain of this: Becoming a father changes you on a molecular level. The D in DNA stands for Daddy. While some may cherish the reprieve from the responsibilities of child rearing, I’m not one of them.
No matter the number of framed photos on my walls, the numerous glances at a fridge covered with toddler art, or the recorded videos watched on my iPhone, she’s just not here.
Grace has been an absolute dream child about the situation. Almost every handoff between me and my ex has been smooth as she says goodbye to one and hugs the other. It’s mostly all that she’s ever known.
When she asks about it, I say “Mommy and Daddy both share time with you. We both love you very much but we have to share because it’s important that we both see you.” To be honest, I am sometimes convincing myself more than her. Learning to share as an adult can be tougher than teaching it to a toddler.
I can only imagine how magnified it is for fathers with more than one child.
Since I’m partially quoting an 80’s song for the title of this blog, I may as well also admit that I would sometimes crank up Paul Young’s “Every Time You Go Away” when driving back home.
If that sounds like what a brokenhearted teenager would do by injecting more meaning into pop songs after a breakup…well…it’s kind of like that. No one likes to say goodbye to the ones they love…even for a little bit. And every time she goes away, she does take a piece of me with her.
I know I’m blessed. I see my daughter more than many other Dads. My job gives me an incredible amount of flexibility to spend even more time with her when she is with me. I was even self-employed her entire first year of life and fed, cleaned, sang, and rocked her to sleep more times than anyone she’s known.
But it will never be what I had thought our life would be. The good news is that I have been able to adjust and accept the new reality of half the time I was expecting. I don’t want to complain. I just needed an outlet to mindfully express what I’m assuming other divorced fathers are feeling also. I’m sad. It happens every week. Someone told me that that was what blogs are for – to speak in your voice.
I’ll keep my chin up and tell myself that she knows how much her Daddy loves her and that I’ll see her or talk to her every day until I get to hug and kiss her again.
And until the next game of “upside down girl” or “underdog” swing, the next duet of “Down By The Bay”, or the next shared milkshake, I’ll remember that she’s only a few days away.
I’ll rely on my faith, excellent friends, and family…
… and I’ll try to avoid the retro radio.
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