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Where did Mommy go? Thoughts from a single father...
Thoughts from a single Father
One cup of coffee, three creams and a scoop of sugar....This is the way I start my morning everyday these days. And that's as far as I can get in to the day before a memory of her reminds me that things are different these days. I no longer enjoy the coffee I just described with her anymore... Her grand entrance in to the kitchen, with her hair looking as if a tornado touched down on her pillow at some point during the waking hours of the morning, never happens. The girls and I no longer share her company at the breakfast table. The kiss on the cheek and the embrace that her and I would share every morning, right after she gave both the girls a morning kiss on their cheeks, is simply a fading memory that one day may just seem like a story that someone had told me about, once upon a time.
I am not a man that would be classified as emotionally outgoing by anyone who knows me. I'll never be accused of breaking down in tears because something just "touched" my heart. This does not mean though that I am emotionless. Those are just not ways that I personally show my emotions to the world in regards to the situations in my life. Please understand that I am not saying it is a bad thing for people to react that way either. We are all different and show our emotions in different fashions. With that said, I will also let you know that I am not a person who bottles up his thoughts and feelings in fear that someone could take it the wrong way and use it against me. I say this because it is a good build up to the part right here where I tell you that I truly miss those mornings I spoke of when you first started reading this. I have nothing bad to say about the woman who, if you didn't guess, was at one time my wife. Many men, at least the ones I know, like to sit around and talk tough about themselves and how things like this don't bother them...I am not that guy though. I do miss her and the times that we shared together. I will always have a spot in my heart for her, however, there will never be a spot in my home again. Avoiding details here purposely, as she has no way to defend herself, I will say that through some extremely poor decisions, many harsh words and an inability to accept that her mistakes were on a much larger scale than let's say, oh I don't know.... writing a bad check, her spot in our home was left vacant and without notice. Leaving us, and ultimately, opening up the door to a world of insecurities that my daughters now fight to overcome every single day. At 4 and 3-years old, they don't realize that they even have these insecurities. I see them in nearly every aspect of their lives now.
Parenting as a Single Father
Words are Damaging...
See, the hardest part about the whole situation is knowing that things will never be what they were. That my daughter's will always have questions about why "Mommy" doesn't come home and they can only talk to her on the phone. See, I know why she left and I understand that she had mental health issues that had started coming in to play after our second child was born. That these mental health issues overwhelmed her and brought her to the point of believing the solution to her problems was street drugs and alcohol. This combined with the fact that she was having mental health problems and was seeing an old boyfriend of hers who had nothing good planned for her, are the simple reasons for why she is in a state hospital now. My little girls, however, they don't know why "Mommy" is gone or what the place she now resides in is. What they know is that things are no longer what they were. See, "knowing" something is actually an extremely powerful thing, that truth be told, we don't put too much weight on in life.. We just go about our lives being happy if we know something or upset that we don't. Almost taking knowledge for granted. Rarely do we give much thought to what actually knowing something means, ( I hope I am not losing you here in my explanation). Let me elaborate just a bit more on what I am trying to get at here for you, just in case I am not translating my thoughts in to words well enough. Earlier in this paragraph I stated that I "know" things will never be the same. Saying this means that I "know" all aspects of the situation in mention; the history, the memories, our conversations, everything... I also know that there is two, beautiful, little girls involved who call her, "Mommy." Two little girls, that whether they like it or not, are going to have their view of their mother extremely susceptible to the choice I make each and every day as to how I want them to view her. And their perception, as it develops and feeds itself with every comment, conversation and interaction they have about or with her or anyone who mentions her, can be a dangerous thing... A monster of sorts, dwelling right within their minds, that devours their self-esteem and destroys their self-worth, without ever even making it known that it is inside them, feasting away and changing the very blue-print of what they will become.
Short informational video.
"KNOW" what to say...
See, I described, in short, the basic reasoning as to why things are the way they are now.. It would be extremely easy for me to "slam" her reputation every chance I got. To make comments about her in front of my daughters that I know would make them hurt by her actions. I have heard many single parents teach their children on a daily basis that their father/mother, ( whomever is the one not living in the home any longer), is worthless. I hear them say things about how they left because they didn't love them, (the children), and many other derogatory comments that defame the character of the person. As a matter of fact, it almost seems that these types of situations have become standard protocol with no deviation accepted. This may be something that we, as single parents, want to classify in the "just venting" category, but their affects on the children who hear it over and over again are powerful. That's why as adults/parents we need to "KNOW" how what we say can seriously hurt our children in ways we may never be able to correct. We need to "KNOW" how to answer their questions in a way that keeps our feelings and emotions completely removed from the answers we give them. Remember, when we apply the knowledge that we have in a way that is healthy..it and puts people in the best position possible.... what you have, undeniably, is wisdom.
"Daddy, where did Mommy go..?" It was and is the hardest question I have ever had to answer in my life. Being that I have the feelings that I do about what happened, it can be a challenge at times for me to answer that question for them in a way that doesn't discredit, "Mommy." I mean really, she lied, cheated and stole...Abandoned us and left us without notice... Why shouldn't I let the kids know what I feel and think! Why not take every shot I can get on her. "Boy, that would show her!" The answer is simple...That is not my job as a father. My responsibility, when they ask that question, is to make sure they know she loves them. There is no reason for me to have my daughters ever leaving a conversation with me trying to figure out why "Mommy" doesn't love them. Children take that hard. Very hard... I also need to answer that question in a way that leaves no room for my daughters to think it is okay to say bad things about people. I "know" that I have a lot of power here and so does every other parent in similar circumstances. Remember every interaction with your child is a learning experience for them. In turn, that means, it is a teaching opportunity for you...I suggest you take advantage of it because every conversation with a child, especially around my daughters ages, 4 and 3, is a conversation in which they absorb every word you say. You may not realize it because it may be quite some time before their young minds organize everything you had to say, but they do take it all in. They take it all in and store the information that you taught them and they will apply it to things at a later date. So in essence, if I cannot separate my negative feelings and resentments from the answers that I choose to give my children, I am teaching my daughter's, that it is okay to talk bad about women or just people in general. Or, that mommy doesn't love them. That's not good. There is a good possibility that they will feel like everything is the result of something they did or said. Even at such a young age, children realize there is something wrong. They know far more than we think they do. And I will say it one more time here...I "know" that she made her decisions based on the fact that she was not happy with herself. She was unhappy with our relationship. She left me, not them. Her departure included drug use and a long-term state commitment. The facility she is in is hundreds of miles away..She isn't avoiding them. Circumstances being as they are, it is just not possible for visitation. I need to guide their thoughts and feelings to a comfortable place. They need reassurance that they are loved. They need this whether they ask for it or not.
Children's feeling's need to come first...
Truthfully, I may feel like I have every reason in the world to bad-mouth her. I may think that she is undeserving of being a mother due to how she just left us. I also may even want to tarnish her name to people and let them know all the grimy details of what happened. And let's face it, there is a large percentage of people who would agree with me. People who would say things like, " Well, she had it coming." Or, "What did she think was going to happen?" But, it is irrelevant no matter which stance you take on it. I am a grown man and the weight of this situation rests on my shoulders. I am, as a Father, responsible for what my two little girls learn. They need to understand that they didn't do anything wrong; and that they are loved.
Before I wrap up here, I would like to say that we as couples, far too often, use our children as a means to get back at our spouse. As tools in our, sometimes vindictive, plots to sabotage our ex's lives in any possible way. Remember though.. That with every comment and every statement that comes out of our mouths, you are molding, like clay in the potters hands, the personality, attitude, and character of your children. Whether we want to be believe it or not, children do listen to the things we say... Sometimes it just seems like they don't because they are constantly doing things we tell them not to...But, let's be real about it, the things we tell them not to do, well, are the "interesting things in life!" The adventurous stuff that they must, with no regards to the consequences, experience right this second! So, with a sincere request to any single parents who read this...Please, before you let your hatred or spitefulness for your ex-partner out, (assuming there is some), make sure that the things you say are not going to be things that have a negative impact on the self-esteem of your children. Their ego's and character, which light up the rooms they walk in, are fragile. That's why when my daughter's ask me, "Dad, where did Mommy go..?" I answer with love for them and who they are. I respond by saying, "Honey, Mom moved in to your heart so she could make sure that she could feel all the love you have for her and so she could love you just as much until she comes home again..."
Parenting as a Single Father
Simple...Yet so Powerful...
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Links and Resources
- Single Dad Resources | eHow.com
Single Dad Resources. Many single fathers know how to be dad, but not how to be both mom and dad. When something happens--whether divorce or death--to hurl a father into single parenthood, he often doesn't know how to play both roles. Every person in
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- Single Parents Forum: Single Family Voices - By Single Parents Network
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