Our Story Begins:
The Space/Time Continuum
My middle daughter asked me today if she could go out for “club” basketball at school this next fall.
You probably read that statement and wonder “what could possibly be wrong with your daughter wanting to go out for an organized sport?” It’s not the sport, the athletics, or anything that goes along with basketball. I played it and loved it as a kid.
There are two things wrong with it: space and time.
For the last four years I’ve been a single dad. More than that I’m the sole parent. I’m not saying I have it worse off than parents who are divorced or that I’m worse off than married couples or same-sex couples. Still, there are things that make it harder for me to balance the needs versus the wants in my household. We don’t have a lot of parental taxiing around because, honestly, I just can’t.
Which brings me back to my daughter. She turns 16 this summer. That, you think, would solve the problem. Drive to and from basketball. Yet things are different from when I was a kid. I turned 16, took the test, took Driver’s Ed to lower insurance rates, all’s right with the world. Add to this that she doesn’t have her learner’s permit yet. I didn’t get her signed up for the driver training – my mistake, time was against me – and then she has yet to complete the online portion of her exam. Where we live, she has to have her learner’s permit for 6 months, do 50 hours of driver training and experience, and then wait 6 months after permit to get her license. That gets us into January.
Basketball starts in August.
I already have an issue. One of my twin sons is on his Middle School’s student council next year. They meet after school, which is after the bus leaves. We incorrectly assumed his sister could drive him home. She won’t be able to do that.
Related: Our Story Begins: Who Is Your Hero?
This is the “space” part of the equation. Were I to work closer to where I live then I could run home, pick up my son, then head back to work. Unfortunately, I don’t. I work more than 30 miles from home in a high-traffic city. Won’t work for city council and won’t work for basketball.
These are the things I face. They’re the things all single parents face. Forget the “dual income family” conundrum, I crave the days when I was still in that mode. It was a negotiation, sure: who takes off early; who ticks off their boss; who misses a few hours here and there for the son and who does it for the daughter? Being a taxi for kids’ events is easier if you have someone who can help you drive. It is, again, a question of time and space.
I don’t pretend it’s been a breeze doing this as a single parent. I rely on others a lot.
I also came to the horrible, but inevitable realization that I didn’t want to face: my kids have grown up a lot in a short time. This isn’t because they’re getting older and I don’t want to face it. It’s because my kids realized that they lost their mother and there just are a lot of things they have to do that other kids don’t. They may have to forego some events because I have to work to put food on the table. They may have to make dinner themselves if I’m working late.
They may have to forego things other kids get to do because there isn’t time or money or space to do them.
But then…they also realize I’ll do everything I can to let them do it, too. That’s something they see, too.
What about you? Do you see your balance of space and time getting farther and farther from you?