Our Story Begins:
Things You Could Learn From A
It sounds like a bold statement:
You really could learn a thing or two by having to be the only parent in your household. I did, even though mine was through necessity.
It may actually be a better statement that we all – my kids and I – learned a lot from my having to be a single parent.
It’s not that being a dual-parent household isn’t better. It is infinitely better, at least from my experience. But there are things you might not have considered that are after-effects of necessity and so here are the things I never thought about before having to be a single parent.
When my kids were smaller, up there in that Halloween photo, my wife and I had far too many things on our plate even for 2 parents. One had volleyball and basketball. Another had basketball and guitar lessons. The boys had basketball and Boy Scouts. We epitomized being chauffeurs instead of parents. When my wife passed away I could only afford to let them each have one extracurricular activity. It has to be on weekends or evenings when I can get them to and from places. Otherwise I’d never work and we need that paycheck in order to, you know, eat and stuff.
My kids had an excursion with their 20-year-old sister to a museum a long ways from our home. Before they would never have done that insisting that their Dad be along with them. Now, however, it was kind of cool to be able to do something together as siblings and they have gained so much maturity in the last couple years they didn’t even think about whether they could. They just assumed they could.
Land the Helicopter
Life is more a roller coaster, anyway. The days where jumping in where my kids have minor problems just disappeared. I have always been big on my kids having to problem-solve or deal with problems head-on anyway. I can’t just drop everything and go to the school or do their homework for them or put their projects together for them. They learn this way – which, in case you forgot, is the point…THEIR learning. When one child started to fail classes I didn’t rush in and complain and try to force the school to change the grade. I worked with the teacher to get it better. My kids, though, learned how to solve their own problems unless it was one that needed my attention. That one failing classes, by the way? She’s in honors classes now.
Learn What You Don’t Know
The hardest part of all this is admitting when you don’t or can’t figure things out. When my son was having behavioral problems at school and couldn’t face the grief of losing his mother I tried everything I knew and could to help him. In the end, the best thing I ever did was get a recommendation for a therapist that did help him. While I probably should have seen a therapist myself the fact that I recognized I – in complete honesty – didn’t know what to do was the biggest, hardest step and the most valuable one. He’s now brave, stable, and told he only needs to see the therapist if he needs it.
Have More Fun!
In the end, all that helicoptering and taxiing were detrimental. One thing we learned is that when we’re together nothing can break us. We also learned that life is too serious already so we should face it having as much fun and laughing as much as we can. When a photo booth shows up, we look like this. When a map of the whole Sierras is made on the ground, we act like Godzilla and walk on it. It’s not rocket surgery, it’s life. Too many people take that too seriously already.
You may not think these are amazing things or important, but they really made a huge difference. I have smart, independent, moral, strong kids. All this from my having to take a step back from necessity. Imagine how things would be if I’d learned that lesson a lot earlier?
What about you? Do you do more taxiing than living? Do you miss the moments in the heat of life?