Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Moment I Realized I Was a Single Dad

Back in 2008, after my then wife left home, I found myself running the kids to church events, school events, etc., etc. One evening, I took my son to a youth group function at church. While he was there, I drove across the street to a Chik-fil-A to have a little something to eat and wait for his event to end. All of a sudden, it hit me that I was alone. No one sat with me, there was no one to talk to. I looked up and saw two other dads there with their kids, alone. I had no way to know whether they were single parents or not, but I imagined they were. And there I was visualizing my future with my own kids. Doing my level best, feeling a little set apart from acceptable society, having chicken sandwiches with my loving children. It was definitely not the life I had imagined or ever could have dreamt. But it was what it was.

Emotions rolled over me and I drifted helpless in them for several moments. As I learned through the entire experience of separation and divorce, you will never know until you experience it. And here I was, experiencing my first moments of single-dadness. I want the absolute best for my kids and I knew that I could now no longer offer that to them with a broken marriage. Now I would leap from experience to experience with them in the times that I had them, wondering how to impact them in positive ways and realize that I would always be self-conscious in public places as I wondered what others would think of my fathering.

My heart went out to all the fathers currently doing this and the ones I would meet who would start going through this. I was in the club now and since men are typically looked at more negatively in broken marriages, we have to support each other, even in a passing, all-knowing nod. It feels like we need t-shirts that say "Dear Happy Family: Mind your own damn business!" The truth is for everyone in whatever situation they are in, sometimes you just can't do a lot about it. Making the best of it is still a heartbreaking occurrence.

What we need, and where I can agree with many lefty hippies, is exceeding compassion for others. An eye to try to see someone's heart rather than their appearance or performance. Let's try to see someone else's story, how it might start with something other than, "give me a break." We are a world of broken people and nobody has it all together. To think anything different is a lie and a betrayal of humanity, of humankind.

I challenge you, today, give someone the benefit of a second look. You may see that the woman holding a cardboard sign asking for money in the parking lot of a Walmart is not just panhandling, but, as her sign reads, she needs help meeting rent this month so she and her 3 kids have a place to stay for 30 more days and her sign is actually staying accountable as she keeps changing the amount she needs on the sign each day after she counts what others are giving.