- During my divorce, it was sometimes hard to separate from my 3 year old twins.
- When I had them, I worked full time and it was hard to balance work and being a father.
- I decided to start my own business so I could spend more time with my kids and I’m so glad I did.
I was 36 years old when I separated from my wife.
I just started a new job with an hour commute each way, and my life has turned upside down. It never occurred to me to move from a large four bedroom family home to a small studio apartment.
I don’t love my wife anymore so being separated from her doesn’t bother me, but the thought of not putting my boys to bed every night breaks my heart.
At first, I had the illusion of being a lady. I doubt spending more time with my kids when they aren’t my week. As much as I would love to wallow in self-pity, I have two 3-year-old boys who need me. Honestly, I need them.
In the First Months After My Divorce, I Shed More Tears Than I Had in the Past 36 Years
Being a single mom is a challenge, and even more so with 3-year-old twins. There is a lot of depression and anxiety. I’m finding it hard to juggle work and being a single dad, and frankly, I lack cooking skills – as my sons aren’t afraid to tell me. At that age, they were already budding food critics.
But worst of all, I had to send the kids to their mother’s house knowing I wouldn’t see them for a week. Each time, I would be devastated when they would run from my car to their “other home” and I would drive back to the empty apartment alone.
I have to focus on being the best dad I can be
There are so many stereotypes about single dads — the goofy dad, the swinging single dad, or Mr. Mother. I am not one of them. It was a challenging time, but I had plans to juggle parenting, work, and dating after a while.
Sometimes my tears are of joy. On my first Father’s Day as a single dad, the boys picked out a “World’s Best Dad” mug for me and assured me they believed it was a title I deserved.
Communicating with an ex-partner can be challenging, especially when so much emotion and hurt is involved
For the first year or so after our breakup, my ex-wife and I had a tense relationship and we struggled to communicate. But when you have a baby with someone, the phrase “until death” sounds about right. Even if you choose to break up, you’re forever bound to them, so you need to work on maintaining a friendly relationship.
I decided to start what I call a “business relationship” with my ex. I would use the same tone and approach as a commercial client. All communications are written and without emotion. Messages are kept as simple requests and exchanges of administrative information: “When are you picking up the kids?” “Thomas is sick today.” “Charlie needs to practice reading this weekend.”
I also created a spreadsheet on Google Docs so we could access the shared calendar of the boys’ events and update it with notes.
Long hours affected my parenting, so I quit my job and started my own business
I was lucky to have the help of my parents. They would pick up the kids from preschool or nursery and often make dinner for them while I was busy at work.
While I appreciate that, I do feel guilty when I miss some of their events. So I decided to quit my job – the long commutes and demands of managing a large marketing team weren’t worth sacrificing time with my kids. I decided to start my own travel business where I could set my own flexible hours and work from home if needed. Financially, I’ve been hit, but it has allowed me to pick up the kids every day and eventually attend their concerts, sporting events, and parties.
Once the kids are asleep, I catch up with work. It got them a few long nights, but it was worth it to be more present in their lives.
I was often the only dad present because many dads are too busy with their jobs. I am so lucky to be an integral part of their lives. As the kids got older, I had the freedom to be my own boss, allowing me to coach their soccer team and participate in all their school activities.
I learned that there is no place for a good cop and a bad cop when it comes to parenting
Initially, I tried to overcompensate for the separation. Every time one of my sons wants to buy something, I buy it. If they wanted extra dessert, I gave them that. If their mom says no to something, I say yes immediately.
This is short-sighted and designed to win their favor. I had to learn to say no to them and not indulge their every request. I also had to make sure not to make their mother the villain, as tempting as that is.
It’s hard. To be honest, although I am angry with their mother, I would never speak ill of her in front of the children. It’s hard to be enthusiastic and positive, but I’m always neutral. I am Switzerland.
I’m finally dating again
If life went according to the rom-com script, I’d have a series of fun dates and wild adventures, all in a three-minute montage.
The reality is that being a single dad can be difficult juggling dating. I also need to find someone who appreciates and understands my situation and maybe knows these boys.
Sometimes I cancel appointments because one of my kids is sick, or my schedule conflicts because my kids are always the priority.
Luckily, a few years later, I found someone who was a good fit in our lives and became my partner – and eventually their stepmother. Plus, the boys appreciate her cooking more than my lackluster efforts.
In the end, I won’t change anything
Maybe this story does have a true Hollywood happy ending. The boys are now 16 and have grown into mature, nurturing, intelligent and happy children. Had I stayed with their mother, they would have probably grown up in a negative environment instead of two very positive, supportive families. The breakdown of my marriage may have caused them.
I also think I’m doing a great job as a father. After all, I have coffee mugs to prove it.