The dishes need to be washed. Laundry is piled in front of the washer. My youngest, affectionately called “the boy” in this blog, normally a healthy child is sick again—three times in the last two months. And I’m still trying to finish painting the front room. Then I was asked how I’m adjusting to being a widower single dad.
My reply… just fine.
Don’t get me wrong, there are difficulties now that were not experienced when there was a spouse around divvying up the household and parenting responsibilities. There is a difference when I’m the only one responsible for the upkeep of the home, car, coordinating the doctor visits, school stuff, and more. There are no reminders that this or that needs to be done. The things left out here or there no longer magically find their way to where they belong. Yes, there are difficulties and a lot of changes.
Yet I still believe I’m adjusting just fine.
Why? In my mind, this widowered dad stuff is what I signed up for when I said “I do” many years ago. I am convinced that marriage is a lot more than joining with someone with whom we have become emotionally attached. It’s a covenant to walk through life together no matter what life brings. That includes the good and the not so good. When offspring enter the picture the same walk through life together commitment applies also. Before Carrie and I married we evaluated and discussed whether we believed each other had the ability to parent alone if something should happen to one of us. …I know, pretty amazing for a couple of early 20somethings. Obviously our answer was yes.
So how does one prepare for this possibility of single parenting? Honestly, I think the answer is simple. Be engaged throughout the children’s lives. Being engaged means more than being around one’s kids. It is more than attending the ball games, recitals, banquets, and daddy/daughter dances.
It’s remembering a dad is a parent not a babysitter. Parenting is not a his or her job it’s an our job. It’s changing the diapers and bathing the child. It’s helping with the potty training and doing the paper work. It’s getting up in middle of the night to clean the vomit off the child’s bedroom floor. It’s going to the doctor visit and knowing the medical history. It’s meeting with the teacher and knowing what the children have been working on in school. It’s knowing the children’s friends and the parents of their friends. It’s being aware of the strengths and weaknesses so appropriate and timely guidance and advice can be given. In short, it’s NOT being the butt of the stereotypical father jokes.
If the worst should happen, being engaged will well prepare someone for being a single dad. If the worst doesn’t happen, an engaged dad will simply be known as the best dad in the world.