I became a single parent when my son was 11 and my daughter was 7. My kids still saw their mom a lot, but they lived with me and I was tasked with figuring out how the hell I was going to raise them, help them through the divorce, while at the same time getting through the divorce myself.
I was scared. I was also lucky, in many ways. One of those ways was that I’d always been an involved dad.
My ex-wife is diabetic. Both pregnancies were very difficult for her, emotionally and physically. I took a job working the graveyard shift so that I could be home when the kids were awake in order to help my wife as much as I could. When I wasn’t working, I stayed up with the kids at night. I changed diapers whenever I was home. I cooked dinner. I took the kids to the doctor. I took them shopping with me. I took them to the playground. When they started school, I was there to meet them when they got home.
So I was lucky. I had plenty of hands-on parenting under my belt. Still, the idea of doing it alone was daunting. It was made even more difficult in that we had just moved to Nebraska from Massachusetts the year before. We lived in Lincoln, but I worked in Omaha, a 60 mile, one way, drive. Putting in 11 hours a day between work and commuting left me no time to make friends and all our family was back east. I was truly on my own.
Being an hour’s drive away from your kids when the school calls and says they are sick is nerve-racking. Granted, their mom lived in Lincoln, but didn’t always make herself available when needed, so there was constant uncertainty. I was worried about keeping my job so missing time to take care of sick kids just added to the stress.
To top it off, my son was a special needs child, so there were IEP meetings and calls to and from the school when he’d have problems in class. All this in addition to dealing with his various needs and behaviors when I’d get home.
Add to this the need to cook dinner, do laundry, and other household chores after having worked all day, and things were pretty hectic to say the least.
Of course, none of this is news to any single parents out there. I wanted to give an overview of some of my experiences as a single parent, as way of an introduction. As time goes on, the issues I’ve mentioned here will be greatly expanded upon so I hope that you will come back to read more about them.
Despite all the difficulties, exhaustion, stress, and worries, I wouldn’t change a thing. Out of everything I’ve ever done, or can do, being a dad is the best job I will ever have!