One of the things I struggled with the most after my divorce and subsequent single parent status was trying to maintain a work-life balance for my son and myself. It’s so easy to get caught up in one aspect of your life as your priorities change.
For me, the challenge was bridging the gap between being a dad and being a successful provider to my son. I struggled with the amount of time I was able to spend with my son because of the split households, so I tended to throw myself into my job. We all know that when one aspect of your life takes precedence, other aspects tend to suffer. I’m sure we’ve all known friends that have ‘disappeared’ once they started dating someone new. Their life eventually balances out and we start to hear from them again. But often for the first few months, they’re entirely wrapped up in the relationship.
The Newness of Being Single
The same thing happened to me, only in reverse. My relationship (marriage in my case) ended and I found myself suddenly living on my own, only having my son part-time and with quite a bit of idle time on my hands. What is a bachelor to do right after his divorce?
Dating was fun and exciting for me at first. In the beginning, I couldn’t wait for my Friday or Saturday night date night. I never scheduled dates during my time with my son, but being in a co-parenting situation allowed me to do this without many of the challenges solo parents experience. Of course, the newness didn’t take long to wear off and my date night excitement turned into fear and loathing. I needed a distraction from dating. My days and nights alone turned from exciting to lonely. I threw myself into my job, picked up a few new hobbies – mountain biking, writing and my website, just to name a few.
I finally had the time to discover myself just a bit. I felt I had lacked this time in the past and I was making up for some lost time in my early thirties. I enjoyed being single, having some freedom and the solitude and quiet of being alone. But I also struggled with it as well. Being single was like a shiny new toy; the problem is that it only stays shiny for a short amount of time.
Our Responsibilities as Parents
Once the shock and myriad of other emotions wore off after my divorce, I was able to re-center and re-focus myself on what really mattered the most – my son and my role as a dad and father to him.
My relationship with his mother didn’t work out the way we intended it to, but I was determined to maintain the presence in his life that I knew he’d need in a father. My parents divorced when I was young but my dad was a huge part of my life. Mothers may bear their children but fathers play an important role as well.
Dedicated Parent, Dedicated Provider
A (single) dad’s obligation to his children doesn’t stop when the ink is dry on the divorce papers. Far too many fathers seem to think divorce means freedom from parenting and responsibilities but that simply can’t be the case. Moving on with your life is fine and often required to heal from the ending of your relationship, but don’t leave your children behind. Till death do us part may not have worked out in your marriage but your children still depend on you to be them for them as a dad and as a father and provider.