I never questioned my parenting skills or faults before now. The pandemic has forced me to reflect on a lot of things but none more than am I a good parent? I’m extremely lucky with my girls, they definitely make the job easier. Sure, there have been times when I have wanted to put my head under a pillow and scream until I was hoarse. There has also been occasion when one or both girls have disappeared to their bedrooms to hide from me or just simply take refuge. Trying to school the children, keep them motivated, occupy them, engage them, feed them, keep them safe, cook for the them entertain them, maintain the home etc has pushed me to limits I did not know existed. The dog (Murf) has even gone backwards in the last few months following me everywhere looking for a bit of my attention.
Parent guilt does exist. Before coronavirus, I only worried about building my career, creating a balance and managing the day to day “stuff” of the home while raising my daughters. Let’s be honest that can be stressful enough, whether you are a single parent or not, and then by the time you get home you are riddled with guilt as you feel you are neglecting your children. Just because you feel it does not mean it is true!
Children are for life, I know we all thought they would reach 18 and job done, now time for me. Pop the champagne, we have our lives back, eh no! We cannot divorce them and we just do not wake up on their 18th birthday, open the front door and wave goodbye as we pat ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves on a job very well done. The worry that we carry for our little darlings never goes away. I can’t always be there for my kids, and if they fall they have to learn to get back up themselves. The real world has a lot of disappointment and inconveniences along the journey of life. But I will always be there to talk, listen and offer advice, should they need it. If it is a simple Dad hug that is needed, well they never run out and I would travel the world to serve upon my Dad hugs.
I can see so many of my traits in my girls, even a few of the not so good ones! What Covad-19 has made me see is that they really have their own identity and that identity is developing every day. They both are very passionate about different things and I support that, even when I don’t really understand it, but that is mainly because I am Dad and fake tan, hair colouring etc are alien to me, but I embrace it all. I must be doing something right as on occasion my advice has been sought, this alway overwhelms me with fear as the wrong answer can have disastrous affects.
Travel restrictions due to the pandemic have pushed us as a family into doing things together often that we may not have done due to other family commitments. Going for bike rides around the city is one such activity. I would have always travelled to go for a cycle with the girls, somewhere with less traffic but for a large part of 2020 we have been in lockdown which has meant it is city centre for exercise. Being a typical overacting father, I had in my mind we would get ploughed by a double decker bus, die or at the very least end up in a wheelchair and it would all be my fault. We headed off with Daddy duck in front and is two ducklings behind him. Thank goodness I did not give the lecture that I had planned. They took safety very seriously and in the end they were probable more cautious than I was. My point is keeping our children safe is a job we all take seriously, and at times I thought my advice was going straight in one ear and out the other, the reality was it had not and they had learned from the previous excursions.
I have one regret in life and that is smoking. When my eldest was about 7 she came home from school and said, “Daddy if you don’t stop smoking you will die and I will have no Daddy.” I love smoking and was excellent at it, 30 a day was a minimum and everyone was as good as the last. My daughter was and is right and I did quit and to this day not only did it help me to live longer, it enabled me to set a good example. More so than ever I have learned my kids pay attention to what I do, how I behave and what I say. I try desperately hard to be a good role model and it is extremely tough when you are a single Dad, trust me it is not like the movies, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan endings are not here.
I have written before about the importance of family dinners and it is the perfect opportunity to get some quality time together without modern distractions. I love hearing about their day, the good, the bad and the ugly and we get to talk about everything and as they get older we even have some heated debates as they form their own identities and beliefs.
Recently I have heard some pretty hurtful stuff from my kids. Immediately I thought I was failing as a parent. It isn’t a failure, I’m not my daughters friend, I am the parent and they need me to be. I’ve learned to stand my ground and set boundaries and unfortunately on occasion enforced consequences. This is the part of parenting I dislike the most, being unpopular, but as a parent I have an obligation to teach my children and how are they to learn about the values our family strive for? I hope one day to hear my children instruct their children on our values and I suppose then a piece of me will live on.
To see my kids clearly, I have looked at my own past. How was I treated in the family, how was I seen? For example, was I seen as a burden? Do I see my kids as the same and feel put out by them? Do I over worry about them and smother them? Overcompensate for them by doing too much? I love my children and they do stir a curiosity within me. Most of all they make me feel happy and very grateful. I love spending time observing their little quirks, I appreciate how they express themselves and I love how they make me laugh.