Earlier today, I was on the phone with my older brother and we were talking about different chapters of our lives. I noted there have been many distinct chapters in my life that each had a noticeable start and end – and I was thankful for both.
Now, I find myself in a new chapter that has been the most challenging to live through; life as a single Dad. For most of my 20’s, I questioned whether or not I wanted to have a family. There was a part of me that thought a family would somehow stunt my ability to find worldly success in the way I thought mattered at that age. As I got older, I began to realize that success comes in many different shapes and sizes, and most of it I now find I want little to do with it.
My 20’s me dreamed of driving a Lamborghini. My 30’s self sees a toy like that as little more than a toy with a miserable amount of trunk space and a high price tag that isn’t worth the bill.
Priorities change as you get older, and I believe they’re supposed to because it signifies one important thing; that you’ve changed, as an individual.
In many ways, I don’t feel as if I’ve wrestled with the identity of being a single Dad as much as I’ve felt beaten up by becoming one. It feels like a failure, and one of the worst nature possible – because it fails an innocent life that had nothing to do with the choices that led to their position in the matter. I doubt an infant would ever want to witness their parents fight like children – and yet, they have no voice or say in the matter because they’re too young to speak.
Adulting takes a certain amount of your energy in order to get right. I know a lot of people who find it difficult to function in the world we now live in, with high costs, uncertainty in the job market and a world that seems to be self-destructing as time goes by.
In an instagram-driven world, it seems like you’re failing if you don’t always have a flashy wardrobe, a dream house, vacations and a hot body hanging off of your arm or giant rock on your finger. I think most people know this life is facetious and surface-level. Yet, it doesn’t stop all of us from wanting to somehow have a little bit of it on our feeds.
It takes energy to wake up in the morning, get yourself appearance-ready, do the dishes, fold your laundry and show up for work. The older I get, the more I feel like I don’t have enough energy for all of it, and I hit fumes in the proverbial gas tank far more than I would like to admit.
Throw a child in the mix.
Watch your partner walk out the front door.
Get a letter in the mail from the Texas AG.
Plead your case in front of a judge, asking for equal time with your own flesh and blood.
Care for that kid like they’re the most important thing in the world – because they are.
Oh, and do the dishes. Fold the laundry. Maintain your house. Pay your bills – and theirs (or go to jail).
It. All. Adds. Up.
You only get 100 energy points every single day, and being a single parent requires about 120 of them, which means you’re perpetually running at a deficit of time and energy, all while being expected to go on with life like there’s nothing wrong when, in fact, everything is wrong.
Some days, I feel like I simply don’t have it in me to go forward, and today was one of those days, which is somewhat difficult for me to admit.
I try my best to show up every day and take what it brings me. Transparently, most of those days feel more like a knockout punch to my face than something I can celebrate.
Beyond the difficulty of raising a toddler alone, I battle the perpetual feeling of “that’s for everybody else – not for you.” as I navigate my way through playgrounds and see happy families at play, walk the streets of Lewisville and see countless brides trying on their gowns and holding champagne bottles once they’ve picked out the dress. It feels like being in the middle of a TV show sometimes, where the main character gets kicked and beaten up with every turn, phone call or piece of mail.
My grandfather fought wars in the air. Mine is in my head and my heart and today I felt like I got shot down from the sky.
Meet the bell, kid.