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.”
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.
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.”
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”
Have you ever found yourself frustrated by someone else?
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?”
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.
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”
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”
Since separating from my ex-wife I have come to understand that she has narcissistic tendencies that I had never seen before. As I recovered from her affair and its fall out I learned to avoid interacting with her around anything involving my feelings.
However, it is much harder to avoid interacting with her when it comes to the kids. Over the last month my daughter has been living with me full time ever since her mother called the police on her. I have been doing my best to support my daughter and trying to help her understand how to talk with her mother.
On most days my daughter does not want anything to do with her. The reason she gives is that her mother focuses on herself, and does not apologize. My daughter is feeling the full brunt of her mother’s self-centered narcissism.
And like a fool I keep hoping that I can help my ex understand what she needs to do to help resolve the issues between the two of them. Copied below is an exchange of texts I had with my ex this morning. It is a snippet, a sample, of what a conversation with a narcissistic co-parent might look like. Continue reading “A peek into coparenting with a narcissist”
How would you react if you received a call from the school psychologist, one afternoon while at work, telling you that your daughter reported being touched in the breast and privates by a boy?
When I got that call on Wednesday, I wished it was as simple as getting angry, finding the boy, flogging him, and knowing that my daughter’s honor had been restored. Isn’t that the manly…the fatherly thing…to do? Continue reading “Is the Truth the Most Important Thing When Your Child Reports Being Touched by a Peer?”
So many thoughts about a very hard week. And it all started with a phone call from a policeman, asking me to pick our daughter up at your house.
You called the police on our daughter.
Let that statement ring out a little bit. When I spoke with our daughter (DD) on the phone, and when I finally got there, she was terrified. Shaken. Her mother had called the police.
Why? Because DD and her brother had gotten into a fight about headphones hours earlier. Headphones. You blamed DD for being woken up. Later in the day, when she was trying to make you understand that it wasn’t just her fault, you ignored her. You were not able to deescalate the situation. You couldn’t hear our daughter, and instead called the police when you had enough. Continue reading “A Letter to My Ex-wife on the Occasion of Her Calling the Police on Our Daughter”
“I hate it when people die.”
One of my students had stayed after school today to make up some laboratory work. Her grandmother died last night. The other grandmother, who she visited in Korea in the fall, had died about a month ago. My student asked me whether it was ok to be angry at other people who are all of a sudden claiming to be her grandmother’s greatest friends, when these same people were nowhere to be found during her grandmother’s cancer. I told her that the one thing I had learned about death in my life, was that everyone responds to it in their own way. She and I spent the afternoon talking about death and dying. Continue reading “Kids and Death: Scary Feelings Should Not Be Avoided”