man in black jacket and pants standing on the stairs



One of my favorite movies is Minority Report, featuring Tom Cruise. In the film, we watch as the main character fights an internal battle between performing his job, and fighting his internal demons; heartbreak, loss, pain and addiction.

One scene that always stood out to me was the scene where Hanks is watching clips of his family, in the solitude of his home. He replays recordings of his dead wife and son, with those recordings being the only thing left of his family.

In a lot of ways, I now find myself in his shoes; looking at photos and videos of my son during the times he’s away from me. While Atlas isn’t dead (quite far from it) there’s a part of me that hurts every time I think about him, knowing that my favorite person on the plane[t] is only a few minutes away from me – yet a million miles away in my heart.

I think about the precious time that we have together, and it never quite feels like it was enough during the moments we shared together. I think about the way his little hugs feel, as well as the way he says “hug” when he wakes up, and I reach in to snuggle him with the love he’ll only receive from his Dad.

As a Single Dad, I often feel as if I wake up to a new heartbreak every single day. When you go through a breakup, you often mourn the loss of the relationship until you discover a new one that lasts. As a single parent, I feel as if the heartbreak rips the ‘band-aid’ every. Single. Day.

I don’t talk much about the pain I carry, because I realize that sharing it doesn’t to heal it. I’m not even sure if I’ll hit “publish” on this blog entry, but felt compelled to write it, given that it’s only a few hours from a day where most are together with their family, and I sit here alone in an empty townhome that felt very much alive this morning as Atlas and I woke up and danced to 1950’s music as soon as we woke up.

Those moments are often bittersweet, because I feel as if they should be captured or shared. Yet, they aren’t. They’re just seared in my memory as they happen, as I know fully well that they are temporary blips of joy that turn into ‘what was’ only a few hours later when I drop him off to ‘the other party’ – knowing that he’ll come back to me a little older, bigger and more developed – and that I wasn’t there to be a part of those moments.

I thought that it would be easier to be a single Dad as time went on. It’s not. Rather, it seems as if the pain simply deepens with every passing day, because the moments I miss with Atlas accrue as time goes by.

Time. It goes so fast.

As a Dad, I see myself changing a lot. I’m learning how to be more patient, kind and loving to Atlas, and try to remind myself of the growth I’ve made in this solo journey.

This morning, I gave Atlas two quarters – telling him we’d go downstairs and put them in his ‘machine’; a vending machine I bought from FB Marketplace. Atlas held onto these quarters like a little treasure, as I told him about the time when I was little and wanted to play a pinball machine. Somebody from our church (Mrs. Tesse) gave me two quarters, and I remember eagerly running to the pinball machine to play the ‘forbidden fruit’ at the roller skating rink. I was later chastised by my parents because I asked other people for money, and I imagine they may have been embarrassed that their child was asking other people for quarters instead of them.

I also remember how I felt when she gave me those two quarters, and the look on her face when she gave them to me. I felt like I had struck gold, and she seemed really happy to give me the little offering. I wasn’t think about the way it may have made me – or our family – look at the time, and I don’t think I was supposed to think about those things at the age I was…

As I go dressed, I suddenly heard a loud clattering sound and saw a surprised Atlas, who had taken one of the quarters and dropped them into my HEPA air filter vent, rather than the vending machine in our living room. Kids will be kids…

I rushed to unplug the filter as I heard the sound of its fan breaking into little pieces. Part of me quickly realized I was out a $100 air filter, and almost wanted to be angry. Yet, another part of me realized this was one of those growth opportunities that parenting presents, and I calmly told Atlas:

”It’s OK, Atlas. I would have done the same thing. How about we fix it together? We’re going to need a screwdriver.”

”Yah, screwdriver!” He said – as only Atlas could say…

”Tell you what, let’s get donuts first. Let’s take a ride downstairs.”

I knelt down and let him crawl onto my back, and then proceeded to go down the stairs while singing:

”The bears go marching one-by-one…hurrah! Hurrah! We’ll cuddle until we both are done, hurrah! hurrah! We’ll cuddle and play and sleep all night, we wake up and we never fight and we all go marching down, to the ground…boom, boom, boom, boom….”

That’s usually where Atlas chimes in with his own “boom boom!” And today was no different.

In that moment, I wasn’t thinking about the air filter or the money I spent to buy it. I was just thankful to have a new memory with Atlas that we both enjoyed. Moments later, were were off to Scooter’s coffee to get Dad a coffee, and Atlas a pack of mini donuts while he asked to sing “the donut song”.

There’s a lot of growth that happens as a parent. Sometimes it happens as you reel from the pain that a split family brings, while other times it’s realizing how far you’ve come as a person that has to make the most of a life circumstance that’s as broken as the air filter on a night when many other families enjoy time together.

I wanted my life to go a certain way, and it didn’t. I wanted to have a home that was free of fighting and hate, and I didn’t get that either – except for when it was apart.

A night like tonight is hard for me, and tomorrow will be no easier – yet, there is always something to be thankful for, even during these times.

”We should be thankful every day of the year – and have one day to complain”

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