I’m divorced. And guess what? I’m a damn good dad. Maybe even one of the best. Does that make me sound crazy-cocky? Ha! I hope not. But still — I know who I am. Hell, I might even be one of the best dads who ever lived in the history of mankind! Who’s to say?!
The other day, I was looking at some comments on an article I had just written called You Can’t Stay Married for the Kids and was really blown away by something that hadn’t really occurred to me before. See, it seems there are people out there who honestly think that parents who divorce are almost always just plain wrong to do that.
And I realized that maybe that’s because it’s too rare that married and divorced parents openly talk about stuff. We don’t ask enough questions. And we don’t answer them.
That leads to assumptions. And tension. And finger-pointing.
I can understand on some level. I used to be married, and when I was, divorce seemed like the last thing I ever wanted to think about. It was probably what I considered to be my worst nightmare. I never envisioned I might be facing it some day.
But now that I’m divorced, there are some things I want to share with you. Some things you should keep in mind about us, all of us who are raising kids and happen to be divorced.
1. Being divorced is not easy.
Look, I’ll be honest: I wish I wasn’t a divorced dad in a lot of ways. It isn’t easy, man. Truth be told, it’s really freaking hard raising three kids by myself when they’re with me. And it’s as equally hard always having to watch them pull away from me in their mom’s minivan. But it happens and it needs to. So she can love on them for a spell, and raise them on her own for a bit.
2. Our homes are happy.
By Biblical standards or whatever other set of deeply-antiquated family value ideas some people might be huffing on, I guess two houses and two homes might seem quite contrary to the old Norman Rockwell version of how people are supposed to be living. Buy hey, do me a favor. Remember something … those of us who made the difficult decision to get divorced did so to make things better for our kids — happier. And more harmonious. Splitting up wasn’t a selfish act. It was the opposite.
3. Our kids are alright.
I came from a divorced home and I’m not all that damaged. I know that my single mom escaped a nightmarish existence when she left my alcoholic father when I was just a kid. I’m still glad she did that for us, and for herself.
4. We love our kids every bit as much as anyone else.
I love my kids so much that I start freaking out when I begin thinking that there are zealots who might consider me a lesser man, or a lesser father, because my children’s mom and I ended a marriage mutually, when all else had failed.
It’s an unjust judgement, I think. And get this. I know a bunch of divorced parents and guess what? Not one of them is any less of a role model or a saving grace for their children than any married parent I know. Hell, lots of them are even better parents, I figure, because they are forced to be WAY more involved and WAY more on all the time with their kids since there is often no one else to step in and help.
These days, I sleep in the same bed with my older kids most nights. After our long hard day of living winds down, I lay there on my cheap pillows and I look at their dirty angel faces sliding into dreams. My love for them is a galaxy, I reckon. It’ll never stop. It cannot be stopped. It just goes on and on forever, even when one of them spills chocolate milk directly on the damn couch, it still just goes on and on.
5. We did everything we could to keep our marriages together.
I would have done anything to stay together with my wife, our little nuclear family living and breathing as one magical organism through all our days and nights. And truth is, I actually did do everything I could to try and make that happen. So did she. But the divorce was our final decision, not in spite of our three beautiful kids, but rather in favor of them, and the years and years of life ahead of them.More On