Life is tough as a separated dad. That’s not to discount anyone else’s struggles in life, but it’s tough all the same. One minute you’re the bread-winner, the hunter/gather and the next? You’re working on your nurturing, homely skills stereotypically associated with the mother-figure role.
It’s hard to adjust to and comprehend while going through the firsts stages of separating. But life is tough, life is hard. It is a series of problems, big and small, that we need to resolve on a day-to-day basis. So adding the extra responsibilities and stresses of being a separated dad is just another part of life’s journey.
It is how we deal with the situation that makes us stronger, makes us the dads that we need to be for our children. We can either choose to go through life with the burdens of spite, resentment and helplessness or we can choose to forgive, accept our place and live and experience life with our children and everyone that we meet along the way.
It’s simply a matter of choice. Dying each day in a pool of negative emotions, or living each day with a positive outlook and being grateful for all – even if that’s just a little – that you have.
Living presently is the only way forward. Your ex-partner may no longer be around, but neither is that kid who was your best friend in grade four. People connect and disconnect from your life the whole way through. It’s part of life. Nothing lasts forever, including us, so we just need to choose to live in the now and experience the now with those who we have around us at this moment in time.
Hell, I wrote a piece for my wedding day on the topic of now, of living presently. I should have titled it, “Note from the future to my past stupid self”. It was about today. Actually today. The moment that you and I are living right now.
Today Lives On Forever – by Mark Thompson (2007)
At Midnight tonight, today becomes today. Not tomorrow.
For when we live for the here and now, in the present
today lives on forever.
Today brings with it anything and everything
Who knows what will happen?
The wedding of two blissful souls,
the birth of a newborn baby,
the passing of our most precious loved one
or a few hearty drinks with friends.
Today will bring laughter
Today will bring pain
Today will bring challenges
But most of all, today will bring love
If you love today, it will always be remembered.
For today, the here and now, lives on forever.
What a mind trip! Reading that back now and comparing it with my whole marriage and what I have learnt since separation is both tragic and eye-opening, but a lesson all the same. At some point I ignored my own advice. I chose to take negative emotions to heart and I chose to just coast through life without experiencing the journey. And the reality is, shifting into that idea of living presently isn’t overly complicated or difficult. It just takes discipline and forgiveness.
What’s that line from The Shawshank Redemption?
“Get busy living, or get busy dying.”
– Morgan Freeman (Ellis Boyd ‘Red’ Redding)
Choose that better path for yourself and for your kids. Even if you never see them, life will be better – not easier – knowing that if they do ever get the chance to see you that they will see you experiencing life and sharing it’s joyful and glorious moments with them. They’ll see someone they can aspire to be like, with their own personal touches thrown in of course.
It’s just a matter of choice.