I am going to warn you in advance . . . this will be a bit of an angry post.
I’m going to start by saying the headline up there again . . . I’m not the man with all the answers, even though Tennessee Tuxedo may have said so.
It’s best to start with what was the original intent of my coming to the interwebs to write a blog and put thoughts to screen on a daily basis. The only things I knew for sure were that I would try to be honest – or as honest as the information brewing in my brain – and that I’d take Saturday and Sunday off so that the weekends are reserved for my family. My family – the new version of which I was thoroughly unprepared to face and angry to address.
I say unprepared. Not unwilling. Not Unable. Unprepared.
In the last two weeks I’ve gotten a number of comments and emails about what I’ve written. I’ll admit, with full honesty, that I’ve not always gotten it right. I’ll admit, with horror and sincere apology if I’ve gotten my interpretation of facts incorrect.
Never, in the nigh on a year I’ve been writing, here, though, have I pretended to have all the answers. On top of all that, I have never, ever, asked anyone to feel sorry for me. Telling you that raising my four children is a privilege and an honor would be falling far short of the mark by hundreds of yards.
In the last couple weeks I’ve been criticized by others – most women, but some men – with the mistaken impression that I’m bemoaning my situation. There’s two things wrong with that. My situation, no matter how hard, is actually better than it was when my late wife was around. While that’s a truth it’s a hard truth to face. The other is that it really doesn’t do any good to bemoan my situation. It happened. My wife, the beautiful woman who I spent more than half my life, is gone and there’s no bringing her back.
The funny thing is, the very things I thought would make people angry elicited no remarks. When I say grief is unique to the individual; when I’ve say unless you’ve lost you don’t know so don’t say so; when I say a Dad can love and care and cook; when I say that I’m nota single parent but sole parent and that the phrase “single parent” has been commandeered by others implying there’s some sort of choice in the matter . . . none of those things seemed to rankle many people. But the most random things did, like I was calling into question their ability to be a single parent.
There’s a contingent that seems to say parenting alone is fine. You don’t need both parents, stop complaining.
I’m not, for the love of God.
But I’m going to upset all of you even more when I say . . . it is better to have both parents. There’s a reason you have them. Face it: you got to Mom for some things. You go to Dad for others. Can I do it? Sure. Is it easy? NO! The ones saying it is are kidding themselves or have never had a spouse for help. It’s tremendously beneficial to have that other person – that calming personality – that you can bounce ideas off. When my son had behavioral problems I would talk to my wife and she’d have ideas. She’d talk to me and I’d have ideas. That’s what it’s about, the give and take. When you’re facing this alone you have to be the sole authority.
You have to act, even if you don’t know, like you know the answers. Your kids want you to be calm and supportive and – let’s face it – immortal. You shake off that mantle of immortality when they have their own kids and they begin to realize that you didn’t have all the answers. It’s like Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Really, you’re making it up as you go, because like every family, every kid and every situation is different.
I applaud the single parents who make it look easy. I try to make it look easy but admit that it’s not.
I started writing because after the events of the day: breakfast and getting the kids to school; work for 8-9 hours; home and dinner, bedtime, planning tomorrow, making lunches and breakfast . . . I sit on the couch and it’s deadly quiet. The time of the night when I talked to my wife is now silent. I look at the bed when I go up and it’s a lengthy expanse. There’s a contingent that thinks I need anybody to be there to fill the void. They’re wrong. My kids had my wife for too short a time, but they had her for awhile. That’s a good thing. I write about our love story, our problems, and it makes me happy to remember her.
But I don’t write about it being easy. This is about why it’s hard . . . for me. If it helps others, I’m thrilled. If it offends you, it shouldn’t. It’s not about your ability to parent. It’s about mine.