That sounds like it was an easy choice. It wasn't. There were a lot of lonely nights out there waiting for me, but they were nights during which I did a lot of learning. And a lot of missing. I realized how much better my life was with the kids in it. I was determined not to be the "fun" Dad, who made every weekend a party. I was determined to be the kind of parent that I'd seen in every single Mom I'd ever admired. Those women weren't living a crusade. Those women were molding good children. I wanted to live that way too.
I firmly resisted the invitations to date, to have relationships with anyone other than my kids. I didn't want to be a boyfriend, a date, a husband, to anyone else. I wanted to be Daddy. And I wanted to be good at it.
I didn't strive to be "perfect," mind you. Being a perfect parent is something I believe is impossible, and striving to be the "perfect" parent has the side effect of making one forget to actually be the parent because perfection takes up too much attention. Make sense?
Somewhere in late 2003 I was set free by the counselors. I was given a virtual gold star rating. But the rating wasn't for being a perfect Dad. The rating was for being someone who was just trying as hard as he could, and staying committed to being the best parent I could be. I could expect a lot of mistakes in my "career", and I could either keep trying, or drop the ball completely.
I was ready to find out what the world was going to do to me. I was also ready to find out what the world was ready to do for me. Single Dads do get a lot of help, ya know.
It's been a good ride so far, at least as far as my relationship with my kids goes. The older two are teenagers now, and, believe it or not, they still talk to me. They don't tell me everything, (I'm not that naive), but they still talk out problems with me. And my nine year old girl still wants to hang out with me. She cooked dinner with me Sunday.
It's not perfect. It's cool, though. It feels good not to be a bad guy. It feels better being a good guy.
I think I'll keep trying to just be a good guy and let the chips fall where they may.
And now back to my regularly scheduled program. I hope this helps anyone who might want the unenviable task of trying to figure out what makes me tick.
Thanks to anyone who took this little side trip with me and still wants to come back to talk to me.