Mother-Daughter Wars, Round One

Everyone said when your daughter hits 12 things are gonna change. My daughter has always been a daddy’s girl and that hasn’t changed. I get a bit of ‘tude now that I never used to, but with all the hormones flooding her body now I don’t take offense. I never was a girl, but I understand that girls go through a lot more changes than boys do. After all, their bodies are getting ready to make humans. At puberty all we do is get some hair and perpetual hard-ons.

The biggest difference, however, occurs in the relationship between daughter and mother. As you know by now, I am divorced, which probably complicates things a bit, but doesn’t change the main premise. For some reason girls get really weird toward their moms at this age. A dad always get pulled into any problems between a daughter and mother – that’s just the way women are. Problems are discussed – they are a group activity. For men, problem-solving is a solo job. I usually try to stay out of it, but when the “big change” happens there ain’t no staying out of it.

Recently, my daughter has decided she pretty much just wants to live with me. It started slowly by asking for an extra night with me here and there (which of course thrilled me). Then there started to be a pattern. A pretty strong pattern. This puts me in a funny position, because I divorced her mom. Meaning, quite literally, I didn’t want to live with her any more. My daughter has pointed that out. Now, 12-year olds say a lot of things they probably don’t mean. And I know she loves her mama, but it’s a hard spot.

To be honest, I’ve enjoyed the extra time with my daughter. I know she’s gonna grow up and move away, get married, etc. But the extra time I have with her comes at her mom’s expense. It’s a classic zero sum game. I know it’s killing her mom to hear her daughter say she wants to be with her dad tonight (again), and I try to leave it up to them to decide. No manipulation or taking advantage of the situation by me – I’m not an ass and hold no grudge against my ex. She made the best babies in the world. Perhaps, it’s just a bit of karma at work. In my favor, for once.

12-Year Old Female Visual Mood Map

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Friday Nights – Then and Now

When my ex and I split up, my kids were four and one-and-a-half. Our arrangement was I had them every Friday night and she had them Saturday nights. Let’s just say every Friday afternoon I started looking forward to busting out of work and getting home for some real quality time with my babies. Those nights were sweet – lots of Disney movies in bed, princess nightgowns, feety pajamas, bottles of milk, sucking on pacifier sounds,¬†falling asleep in my arms – you know the deal.

My kids are now 12 and 8, so Friday nights are a lot different. Sleepovers, meeting friends at the movies, iPhones behind closed doors, hours of Minecraft, etc. All things that don’t involve me. But every once in a while the stars align and the three of us are home, and actually together. God, I love those nights (unfortunately, this isn’t one of them).

This started me thinking what will Friday nights be like in 2 years, 3 years, 5 years, 10 years? Will anything ever replace those early Friday nights? I have asked my parents, but geezus, things were so different back then. Like most of you, my dad never fed me, changed my diaper, put me to bed or any of the things I do (or used to do) on a daily basis. They can’t relate. I’m still single and date a bit, but it’s not a focus for me now and I don’t think any women can ever replace the love and joy I feel for my kids. Or those Friday nights.

.Bedmates

Now

Being a divided dad

I am a divided dad. I assume we are all divided at least one way or another – either internally or pulled by external forces. And often we are unknowingly torn between right and wrong. Only because we just don’t know any better. Ya know, being a dad is more art than science.

And why am I a divided dad and not a divided person, or a divided man? The answer is simple. I am a dad. And when you are a dad, that is what you are. And being a dad is way different than being a father. Being a father is a physical thing. Being a dad is emotional, mental, spiritual and any other “al” you can think of.

My own external divisions come from being divorced, employed full-time and occasionally being a boyfriend. They all affect being a dad. Being a dad is 24/7. It doesn’t end when your ex picks up the kids, or when you enter your office, or when you are out on a date (especially if you don’t turn off your cell phone!). So, everything you do affects being a dad. Some weigh heavier than others. Trust me, having my kids meet my first girlfriend was way heavier than bringing them to the office. But I do try to do things for me. Painfully so, often. I do so considering how it affects them, but I don’t make myself a non-issue. I wasn’t like that at first. I erred quite a bit to one side of the equation.

I am not starting this blog so I can tell other dads how to be a dad. I am here to share the joys, experiences, thoughts, insights and feelings about being a dad. I just got back from Dad 2.0 and was incredibly inspired by those I met and heard speak. So thanks to @dadscribe, @robcandy, @jeffpulver, @homeanduncool, @blackhockeyjesus, @whithonea, @brenebrown, @canadiandad, @dadscribe, @busydadblog, @thedaddycomplex, @cc_chapman, @playgroundlords, and @howtobeadad