So You Want a Divorce. A Welcome Message to the Newly Separated.

Blogging has taken a backseat to being a single dad. Now full time since my kids’ mom passed away last summer. However, recently, I have been interacting with a number of folks who are newly separated and hurting. The pain I have been hearing has brought me out of my blogging slumber to offer some support to the newly separated.

If you made the choice to divorce, then I’m sorry that your circumstances led you to reach that decision. It is a painful choice filled with fear, worry and loneliness. Also…congratulations! You have made the choice to reclaim yourself. There is hope in that decision.

If the choice to divorce was made for you, then I’m sorry that your circumstances have led your partner to make a decision that you might not have made yourself. If you have read my story elsewhere on this blog, then you know that this was my painful experience as well. Also…congratulations! From this point on you own your identity, your recovery, your path forward. There is hope in that agency.  Continue reading “So You Want a Divorce. A Welcome Message to the Newly Separated.”

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Parenting after the death of an ex spouse.

My ex-wife, the woman I knew from our time in college and who I had 3 kids with, passed away three days ago, after a 14 year battle with breast cancer.

If you have read my other posts you will know that her almost 4 year affair ended our marriage, and the resulting fallout was complicated and full of conflict.

In the last 3 months I went from being a part-time single dad, to a partial full-time single dad (my daughter was told to leave the other house in April by my ex-mother-in-law and the affair partner), to a completely full-time single dad with my ex’s passing.

Over the last few days my thoughts and emotions have been all over the place. I don’t know if I am feeling some version of grief, or if I am just a witness to the grief my kids are feeling from her passing. The complicated nature of the last 4-7 years has made her passing complicated.

I decided to process the onslaught of feelings by listing the thoughts and questions that have been running through my head the last few days. For better or for worse, in no particular order: Continue reading “Parenting after the death of an ex spouse.”

5 New Year Habits of Mind for the Divorced Dad

As divorced dads we have survived the holidays. Whether we were with family or trying to make it through on our own, we are now on the other side. The New Year has begun. Here are 5 things to consider when planning out our new beginnings. These are not resolutions. Resolutions tend to be broken. These are habits, frames of mind that can guide our choices in the new year.

One. We will be better about NOT reacting when triggered by our ex. Continue reading “5 New Year Habits of Mind for the Divorced Dad”

5 Thoughts on Boys and Fatherhood from a Dad’s Weekend at Camp.

This past weekend I visited my son at his camp for Dad’s Weekend. Two and a half days of fishing, singing, building, running, sock wars, and thunderstorms.

Father, Son

It was my 5th Dad’s Weekend. Each time I drive away amazed how connected my son and I can get in only 2.5 days, and wish that it was as easy the rest of the year. It is hard to describe how this camp, Becket YMCA in the Berkshires, creates a culture where boys and men are able to share feelings and experiences in very real ways. Being able to learn more about how my son thinks (through discussions with him and his counselors), sharing my experiences with him, and having a moment to relax together are the best parts of the experience.

Here are some lingering thoughts about the experience and fatherhood in general from this past weekend: Continue reading “5 Thoughts on Boys and Fatherhood from a Dad’s Weekend at Camp.”

Accepting the Liebster Award 2016

A few weeks ago I received a comment on one of my blog posts from Green Onions, AKA:

Your blogging superhero that has absolutely no powers.  Nerd of literature and other such expressive art.  Sensational partner, amazing father, spectacular ninja-like chef.

Green Onions nominated my blog for a 2016 Liebster Award and stated “Your blog can help a lot of fathers and I appreciate what you do. You deserve a little recognition, thank you.”

Wow. Thank you, Green Onions!

I started this blog in December 2015 after I had reached a point in my post-divorce journey where I felt comfortable enough to discuss my path, and my continued struggles. Continue reading “Accepting the Liebster Award 2016”

Surviving the end of the school year

Back. Back in the saddle again.

A month after my last post it is time to get going again. Writing requires habit, and when life decides to happen, writing can take a backseat. So although it is not the deepest, most meaningful post ever, it is my attempt at getting back into the habit.

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from my ex, which I showed to a colleague who has followed my story for a few years. Her first reaction after reading it was, “You can’t seem to ever catch a break at the end of the school year. Can you?”

My colleague had brought voice to the exact thought I have had for many many years. Even before my divorce the end of the school year was a stress filled time.

My professional life in the last few weeks of the year is filled with helping students meet their graduation requirements, writing narrative progress reports for 60+ students, end of year celebration activities, and managing the emotional and behavioral need that students bring to school. Finishing off a school year is hard for teachers.

At home the emotional and behavioral issues also ramp up. Especially for my daughter. It isn’t clear why, but I think it has something to do with the fact that we got to know her during the month of May when she was 6, and she came to live with us at the end of June.

This year was no different for my daughter:

  • Police called to ex’s house in March and daughter began 2.5 month period of being full time at my house.
  • Daughter wanted to run track. It was 1.5 months before she admitted that she stopped going to practices and was at the computer in the library after school each day.
  • Three detentions for being late to class or not where she was supposed to be in school.
  • After returning to the regular custody schedule daughter ended up in an ambulance and the ER after a weekend at her mother’s house ended with her saying she wanted to kill herself.

At the same time my ex ramped up her own behaviors and demands:

  • Body-shamed daughter by telling her she would be raped if she wore a revealing dress to dinner and danced provocatively.
  • Threatened the school district with “reporting” their ineffectiveness at protecting daughter to the state, paper and police.
  • Accused me of being an alcoholic to the therapist (again) and demanded I get a summer job since, as a teacher, I am underemployed.

On top of that:

  • Eldest had graduation from high school and conservatory.
  • All three kids had numerous end of the year concerts.
  • Planning summer schedule for the kids.
  • New dog continues to use the house as her own personal lavatory (at least she is cute).
  • Oh…and my girlfriend and I had some serious relationship tending. Our relationship went from being on life support to urgent care to recovery.

And now here I am. On school vacation. “Underemployed”. In recovery mode.

 

15 Children’s Picture Books to Fight for when Divorcing

One of the joys of being a parent is sharing books we remember from our own childhood, as well as new ones we discover, with our kids. We build our collection, enjoying the pictures, characters and their stories. Then we separate from our spouse and we have to figure out how to agree on a division of marital property. When it came to splitting the children’s picture books I wish I had put my name in them years before, officially claiming them for my own with bold black ink.

The books listed in this blog post are a few of the picture books that I won custody of in the divorce. I read these with my children, over and over again. Some of these books I enjoy because of their illustrations. Others because of the characters. I hope you find some new finds in this list, and rediscover some treasured classics.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate marketer with Amazon. Although the books in this list actually do exist on my bookshelf, I will receive compensation if you click on the images or titles, and purchase the book from Amazon.

Owl Moon,  by Jane Yolen

This is a gorgeous book. The water color illustrations help set the mood for the story of a father who takes his daughter owling under a winter’s moon. The story is told by the daughter, now grown, recollecting her childhood trips into the snow with her Pa. My kids and I would “Whoo-whoo-who-who-who-whooooooo” along with her and her dad, hoping for a site of an owl under the Owl Moon.

The Munschworks Grand Treasury,  by Robert Munsch

Robert Munsch is one of the funniest storytellers there is. He has written countless classics about Paperbag Princesses, Mortimers who won’t go to sleep, out of control ponytails, and pigs run amok.

We loved the stories so much we bought The Munschworks Grand Treasury, which brings 15 of his stories together in one place. Even my students, tough to please teenagers, have cracked up over the years as I read to them from this collection. Just wonderful. Continue reading “15 Children’s Picture Books to Fight for when Divorcing”

Who Calls You on Your Bullshit?

Have you ever found yourself frustrated by someone else?

Continually?

Could it be that you are doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results, and then ending up frustrated when the other person’s behavior is no different?

Who do you have to call you on your bullshit? Continue reading “Who Calls You on Your Bullshit?”

5 Scary “Girl Things” for Single Dads

When you get divorced you all of a sudden add new roles to your single parenting job. These are duties that you would probably not have had the opportunity to experience while still married. This is especially true for fathers of daughters.

When married the “girl things” were probably passed on to your wife to handle. Now, as the sensitive new aged single dad that you are, confusion, embarrassment, and often terror are a regular part of your day as your daughter’s increasingly feminine needs fall to you to figure out.

girl-sitting-posing-trees

No one properly prepared us to help our daughters with these girl things. They often pop up unexpectedly. My goal with this post is not to give you all the answers, but to give you some things to think about ahead of time. Warnings that will help you properly prepare your already frazzled emotions.

1. Boys (or girls) Let’s start with an easy one. Continue reading “5 Scary “Girl Things” for Single Dads”

Why do Some Mothers Reject their Own Children? A Narcissist’s Revenge

I knew that our new dog had been used as a breeder at a local puppy mill. She had been a new momma within the last few weeks. Her body showed it.

As we finished up the paperwork, and the kids took our five year old parent out to the car, the shelter worker leaned over to me and quietly told me something she had been holding back. Our new mom had not wanted to be one. She had killed her puppies. She had rebelled at the idea of being a parent and had thrown her kids around her cage, until all but one of her ten were gone. No longer a benefit to them the owners of the mill had given our sweet pup up to the shelter.

When we returned home I opened up an email from my ex to my daughter’s school and therapists, reminding me that we were having our own mother-child issues. Continue reading “Why do Some Mothers Reject their Own Children? A Narcissist’s Revenge”