Keeping in mind that I know you better than anyone, I hope you read this and ponder it with sincerity of heart. It’s not easy to speak frankly and directly with oneself.
First off, being a single father, I know what you worry about most. You want to be the best father you can be to the three souls that have been entrusted to you even though you only see them part time. Your heart breaks when they aren’t around. When they are, you sometimes wonder if you do enough, give enough or teach enough to help them on their journey. You have also done everything in your power to make sure the divorce has affected them as little as possible.
You have a teenage daughter who is striving to be her own person and you worry that sometimes you may be holding the reigns too tight. She wants the freedom to make her own decisions. She wants to hang out with her friends instead of you. She wants independence. So, maybe you feel abandoned at times. It was just a year ago that she would argue and fight with her siblings just for the chance to cuddle up next to you on the couch on family movie nights. You never imagined that she would change this much and so fast. At times, she makes questionable decisions without thought of the consequences and when you try to impress upon her the importance of being a ‘responsible’ individual, she gives you that look that says he’s lecturing again. Even though you made a promise to yourself that you would never be ‘that father’ suddenly you are indeed lecturing when you never wanted to. You have had sleepless nights and spent minutes, hours, and days, worrying about her. Frankly, you wonder if other parents go through this. Yet, you know that some parents have it far worse than you do. So, you continue to tell her that you believe in her, that you love her more than anyone else ever will, and you continue to force your bear hugs on her whether she wants them or not. You should never stop doing that because when you do, you feel her spirit collapse in your arms and hold you tight as if to say “I’m so glad you’re here for me”. Though you love all your children equally, there is something special about this firstborn child. You know she has talents unseen and it is your job to help her discover her potential. Never stop trying.
Your eleven-year-old daughter is presently an innocent soul and you ponder if the teen hormones are going to hit her the same as your older daughter. Yet, you define this daughter as the ‘wise’ one. She appears to have already mastered the skill of learning from others’ mistakes, especially her older sister’s. It brings you great pride as you witness her become the entrepreneur of the family, even at such a young age. She has baked cookies, walked around knocking on doors selling them, making upwards of $40 in an afternoon. She knows how to set goals and has laser focus on achieving them. When she wanted to acquire a hamster with a little assistance from you, she worked the goal backwards. She figured out everything she needed to buy, how much she would need, and set a timeframe to obtain the funds. Two days before the goal was due she discovered that she was short money so she went to work baking cookies. She walked around the neighbourhood and made another $25. She got her hamster two days earlier than she planned. You always tell her that if anyone is going to change the world, it’s her.
Your son is nine. With two older sisters, he tends to keep his head down and out of trouble. You worry that he hasn’t taken to reading and education as much as his other siblings and you want him to be prepared for school. Let him continue to read with you every time he is with you. That said, he has a talent for figuring things out on his own. He loves Lego and he’s very good at it. When he received a 1000+ piece Lego set for Christmas, he sat at the kitchen table completely immersed in the task of completing it. Even when he made an error, he worked backwards to correct the problem You watched in amazement as he finished it within two hours undistracted by the chaos of Christmas going around him. You thought to yourself that this kid will be an engineer. Nevertheless, your greatest anxiety is speculating if you spend enough father/son time together or if you’re teaching him enough about the responsibilities of being a man. You want to show him how to fish, mow the lawn, fix a car, and change a belt on a washing machine. You always reflect about how your own father passed away of cancer when he was forty-eight and you were seventeen. He taught you so much before he left this life. Even though you keep yourself fit and eat relatively healthy, you wonder how much time you have left.
Mostly, you are sick to your stomach most nights, missing them. What you need to know is you’re doing a good job as a father. You don’t need to be so hard on yourself. You are very blessed to have three amazing children who continue to love you and spend time with you regardless of your shortcomings as a parent. Forgive yourself for things that you wish had gone differently. If your kids can get past stuff, so can you. Continue to remind yourself to put your phone down so you don’t miss a precious moment. Keep attending every game, ceremony, and recital. Dance and laugh more with them. Keep hugging them. Teach them everything you can because you have experiences that they don’t and you sometimes hold back in doing so. Most importantly, loosen up. You’re uptight and stiff at times and you don’t need to be. Live in the moment with them. Enjoy it. Never stop giving them a hug and a kiss on the cheek when you put them to bed. And never, ever, stop telling them that you love them.
If you’re going to listen to anyone, listen to me because again…I know you better than anyone.
So, take heart. You’re doing just fine.
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