The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Confessions Of A Single Dad
Being a single parent is hard work. Some nights, before hitting the sack, when I look at my face in the mirror, it feels like that I have aged 40 years, in a day. The routines are tiresome and then there will always be some dishes undone in the sink, some clothes not ironed, and the rubbish bin not emptied and so on.
As a single dad, it is always difficult to explain to my employer the reason for being late, several times every week. How can I put ‘managing my child’s tantrum’ as an officially acceptable excuse?
Then there will be the odd call from my son’s daycare, when I have to leave work in between and rush to find out that my son has broken a tooth or even worse, his arm. It feels like I am always running to make the day perfect and end up doing something else.
Now even if the day is perfect. Like if my son goes to school, and stays for the full allotted time in the daycare, I get to finish my day’s work. At the end of everything, I still have to get him from his daycare in an energetic mode, with a smiling face (even if I am really frustrated with some things at work), and come back home and play with him.
It is always easy to turn on the television or hand him over the smartphone. But then the guilt of being a ‘bad dad’ overwhelms me. I, myself, like to draw and tell stories, read books and play games. However, to carry on with the same energy, every day, day in, day out, is indeed very challenging.
My son is three and half years old now going to be four. Every night I read him a story. I tell him stories of distant lands and how people eat and dress. Sometimes the days are so stretched that I fall asleep in between, only to wake up in the middle of the night, to do the dishes and iron the clothes.
On occasions when I am going with my friends, for a dinner party or a party at my colleague’s place, I cannot quit worrying about getting a call from my babysitter. On occasions I feel guilty of enjoying too much. I often tend to think that I am depriving my son from some quality time whilst I am enjoying the moment.
No matter how many last drinks I refuse to take or how many lunches I avoid to pay a visit, somewhere down the line, I feel that it is not enough. I often try to fill in the shoes of both the parents and more often than not, I fail to do so.
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Feeling tired already? Thinking that I am sulking way too much? Actually, you are right. There are several upsides of it, too. I get to become a super-dad, a role model. My son mimics the way I walk, the way I talk and even the way I draw. We play games, we’re the Papa bear and the Baby bear, going on hunt trips together and catch fish and eat honey.
We create our own fantasy world where one day we go to the untamed forests of Amazon and on the next day we climb the mountains of Himalaya. Then there is the ‘going to the super market’ day.
Running down the shopping aisles, with him seated on the cart, is genuine fun. We make our own kind of honks and change them whenever we feel like and giggle about it, later. We buy similar kind of t-shirt and paint and draw on them.
Naturally he also has become a fan of Everton Football Club, and on each game day, we get glued in front of the television and watch our heroes sweat it out on the field. I know the life we lead is a bit clumsy.
There will be odd toys scattered on the ground. The carpet will not be vacuumed from two to three weeks. Sometimes whilst working late, on my laptop, I realize that I have not changed the bed sheet for days. I feel guilty and then I console myself by confronting the fact that parenting actually is not a one man or woman’s job.
The most rewarding part of single parenting is that all the credit directly comes to me. Whenever he performs well in his phonetics class or recites a poem or scores a goal, I am praised by the teachers and other parents.
My neighbors are also very supportive. They will call us often for dinner or send us snacks. I try to return the favor but more often than not, I fail to do so. However, the few occasions we managed to make special Sunday roasts, my son helped me a lot.
He buttered the chicken, with his tiny hands and then despite my warning, licked the butter off. We waited till the chicken turned brown and gave each other a hi-five when we finally finished the cooking.
It is true that single parenting is daunting. Then again, what is not? Life itself will offer you with so much hurdles and the best way to tackle them is to getting yourself used to the situation. Now when I see my son from a distance, interacting with other kids, I do not feel that he lacks confidence or is insecure about being raised by a single father. Instead I find him to be much more responsible and understanding when compared to others.
He is not shy and can express his desires very clearly. I sometimes pat myself for doing a great job…all by myself. Then there are days, when my ex comes to take him away for the day. I wave them goodbye and spend some time reading alone. After a while I get impatient and wait for my Baby bear to come back home…so that we can again go hunting again.
Then there are days, when I look at myself, in the bathroom mirror, I smirk and think that I am actually like the character played by Hugh Grant in the movie ‘About a Boy’, the only difference being that I actually have a real son and I have much less hair than what Grant has.