While the term half-life is normally used when talking about nuclear physics or nuclear chemistry (not to mention a pretty sweet video game), it can also be used in a different way when applied to the nuclear family, especially when it comes to fatherhood.
At a random point in your young adult life someone hands you an envelope with some shocking information.
The message is simple. Starting today you will only receive half of the life you would have normally lived.
That would probably change your life.
What you consider most important may become doubly so. Your priorities would suddenly stand out in stark contrast to time spent on less important things.
So it is for many divorced Dads. Their “fatherhood half life” begins with a divorce and a custody battle. And with most, half is an all too rare “best case” scenario.
From the moment she was born, I placed time with my daughter as a top priority. I like to think the D in my DNA stands for Daddy. I was lucky enough to be self-employed from home the first year of her life and then to land an extremely flexible job that let me keep my priorities and promises intact. Then, divorce…and those promises got a lot harder.
I’m no time management wizard. There are numerous examples of how I’ve wasted time on things that held no real value. But fatherhood isn’t one of those things. It never will be.
My situation has my daughter living hundreds of miles away. I’m not afforded the same conveniences of many divorced parents. It’s high conflict but it has taught me many things about myself and my faith.
So when I hear about parents wanting to “take a break” from the kids, I wince. You don’t know what you have. Dad up and recognize the benefits of your sacrifices.
Every time a new theater or dance camp opportunity comes up that we have to take a pass on because she won’t be here, I grimace. Someone else’s decisions are affecting her opportunities.
Would I act differently if she was with me every day? I don’t see why. Why wouldn’t I want to spend as much time as possible with the one of the most important people in my life?
Promotions, money, more stuff…keep ‘em. I’ll take time. You should do the same.
The fading (but not fast enough) standard of a divorced father being awarded every other weekend and half the summer is an insult, not just to the involved Dads but to the decades of studies that have shown how important a his relationship with his kids is. Those aren’t my words, it is scientific fact.
If you find yourself in a situation like mine, don’t give up. Fight for your rights as a father. Stay true to her. If you get to see your girl every day, make it count. It’s more important than you may know.
My girl and I have done a whole lot of living in our four short years together, whether it was on a daily basis or just half. One thing is certain. Our “half-life” is still very full of love.
If you like this, maybe you’ll like some of my other favorites? It’s OK to Say Goodbye to Saturday Morning Cartoons, My Guppy, My New Morning Show, Men Suck… , The Wonder of a Weed, and the G-Talk series