Need To Steel Myself

Now and again all parents will face moments when life seems almost impossible. At a very personal level the last few weeks have seen me stretched to near breaking point.

Readers of this blog will know that OnlyDads itself is stretched: a simple problem of demand for our services outstripping out ability to offer the first-class support that we want to. (I can tell you that after this “moment of madness” talks are in hand which may well find solutions for us).

All of this stress has coincided with Preez (15) announcing that she wants to spend extended periods living with her mum. This came out of the blue about three weeks ago.

I heard her tell me on a Sunday evening that “after school on Monday, I’ll go to Mum’s and come back on Thursday”. This has been followed up by further three-day stretches away from her “home”.

Her home???

Well for the last 8 years both girls have lived with me full-time. There have been (extended) periods where contact with Mum has been non-existent. But in the last three years all of us have worked hard to rebuild the girls’ relationship with mum. Let’s just say it has not been straightforward or easy.

But I have persevered. So too have the girls. And to her absolute credit, so has mum.

My instinct – and by that I mean every bone in my body – now wants to cook Priya roast lamb dinners and make her chocolate puddings and buy her a new chest of drawers and buy membership to a local private leisure centre where she can go and treat herself to spas and saunas (none of which I can afford) and I basically want to wrap her up with love and attention like never before. What’s the expression? “to wrap her up in cotton wool”

I don’t want her to go!!

The final words of our Judge

After three years of court room hell, our Judge ordered that the girls should live with me, and that I should facilitate day contact with Mum for the first few months, extending to over night contact on alternate weekends. We have all tried to follow this to the letter.

But, when all this had been agreed in the form of a contact order, the judge turned to me and caught my eye.”Perhaps”, he said, “you may find in time that you can all go beyond what I have ordered”. Well here we are…

…the saying that there are only two things you can give your children, “roots and wings” is now haunting me. Through thick and thin, I done my level best to give my girls the roots they deserve. Now it calls upon me to blow gentle supportive breath under Priya’s wings.

If OnlyMums and OnlyDads stand for anything – we have at our very core a belief that children do best with Mum and Dad playing an active part in their life.

And so it must be!

Finding the warming and supportive breath to inflate my daughter’s wings, when I feel like I have been punched in the stomach is (and will be) hard.

It’s time for Bob to “man-up”. If this is what my daughter needs – then my job as her Dad will be see that her wishes are supported. She won’t see my tears. She will feel my support.

And Preez – that is my promise!

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About onlydads

Single Dad living near Totnes in Devon. I founded www.onlydads.org in 2007 and live with my daughters Priya, 14 and Anya 11. I write about single parenting, work, overcoming trials and tribulations and sometimes not overcoming trials and tribulations.
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28 Responses to Need To Steel Myself

  1. James says:

    Jeez, you brave brave man. And congratulations for supporting your girls to come this far – fantastic testiment to the support you provide!

  2. Bob, you are a very special man indeed. You post made me cry for many reasons, not least because of the obvious love that shouts out from every line.
    You said on twitter I would be able to relate and I certainly can. My son’s father (not dad, he has never been a dad) split when he was 18 months old, there has been little or no contact in over 15 years. The father or his family making no effort to contact my son even though they live in the same town. I have in many (selfish) ways preferred this, but I discovered recently my son has suffered for many years with feelings of abandonment etc even though my now husband has done everything he can to treat him as his own.
    You have, and are doing everything you can to be “fair” and “right” for your daughters.
    It is all we can do Bob, I am certain that in years to come, especially when they have their own children, they will understand the just what an amazing person you are and just how much you “gave” them.
    Always here for you xx

    • onlydads says:

      Karen – what lovely words. Through Twitter and our #devoncoup I have had the pleasure of getting to know you in real life – so these words mean an awful lot!

      Thank Karen 🙂

      Bob x

  3. Love is letting go, Bob, as you have so eloquently stated here. She’s not leaving you; she’s finding herself. She feels safe and secure enough to extend her visits to her mum knowing that you will always be there. You’re her dad. That will never change. Still, I can sense your pain. It must be very, very hard. You know I’m a phone cal away if you want to talk.

    • onlydads says:

      …and the thoughtful way you blend fatherhood and being a man, together with a few laughs along the way make you a real good friend to know Keith.

      Thank you

  4. Bob, you are doing brilliantly. I know exactly what you’re going through – the same thing happened 18 months ago with my (then 16 year old) middle son. You’re not just Priya’s father, you’re her friend, and it’s that friendship that will carry all of you through this.

    Blessed be to all of you.

    Anna

    • onlydads says:

      Those sound likewise words to me Anna. I have never been that big on communicating the “friendship” idea of parenting – but now is one of those times when it needs to come out in the open.

      As always Anna – many thanks :-).

  5. Diane prince says:

    Bob I cry at many of your posts and this was no exception. The other replies are spot on and therefore there’s no need for me to repeat.

    You have done an amazing job as a father, which clearly shows. Preez obviously feels comfortable in herself to deal with this change, which has been born from your care. She feels the need to extend this contact and it will be a bumpy ride too, however if you continue as you have in the past (and wondering if what you are doing is right) then a beautiful, educated, well rounded woman she will make.

    Be assured that you would never be alone in your feelings, most would feel the same. You do have good friends bob, this is clear. I suggest you do as you’re told and pick up the phone when times get tough xx

    Di xx

  6. onlydads says:

    Lovely kind words Di.

    Thank you.

    Bob x

  7. CoffeeCurls says:

    Oh wow Bob. This is one of my all time dreads, probably because (like you have probably always done) I know deep down that one day it will happen. You must be torn to pieces inside in a way that no one else could possibly fully appreciate. I am so impressed, nay, proud of you for your reaction to this ‘bombshell’.

    I truly hope that when the day comes for me to hear those words I will have the dignity and self-control that you have and that I too will be able to step back and put my child first.

    Your promise to P did bring a tear to my eye (and I’m not usually prone to crying over blog posts!), I think you put it beautifully here:

    “Finding the warming and supportive breath to inflate my daughter’s wings, when I feel like I have been punched in the stomach is (and will be) hard.

    It’s time for Bob to “man-up”. If this is what my daughter needs – then my job as her Dad will be see that her wishes are supported. She won’t see my tears. She will feel my support.”

    Good luck Bob, I really am proud of you xx

  8. CoffeeCurls says:

    Reblogged this on coffeecurls and commented:
    I want to share with my readers a the words of a truly inspirational man.

  9. Watching friend’s children reach this, I see them pushing to extend boundaries, extend their freedom – extend their identities. It’s one hundred inevitable (even more so in your situation) and one hundred percent painful.

    I feel for you – but you’re doing a bang-up job.

  10. Bill McCardle says:

    I’d like to use a quote from one of my favorite movies as a reply. From Tombstone “I don’t have the words”

  11. @pie100 says:

    She will look back on this time in her life and realise what a gift you gave her by not making it hard on her to do this.
    You may find in time she returns “home” and its just something she needs to do.
    You sound like a fantastic dad, if only all “parents” had your mindset the world would be a better place.

    • onlydads says:

      I hope you are right – like all parents – you want your children to look back and think that was OK!

      Many thanks for commenting

      Bob

  12. Bob & Preez,

    I can only think of this to say and you can keep it if you want to, for your times ahead:

    What you have between you, will never disappear.
    It can ebb & flow, wax & wane.
    But as long as you want to keep it there, it will remain.
    No distance or time apart can alter that, they are inanimate in comparison to emotions.

  13. Diana Jordan says:

    Dear Bob
    As a father, I bet you score about 95%. (That’s an A* +++!) And as a mother …. well, what would you guess? This is one of the problems for single parents: however hard you try, you can’t be both. At some point in their teens, children need a same sex role model so often they do suddenly up-sticks from their happy home of many years. It just doesn’t seem to occur to them that the parent they are leaving might mind, let alone be deeply hurt. I am reminded of one of Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements: take nothing personally. It’s not about you Bob, though I know that does nothing to help your pain. It’s only happening because you’ve done such a great job. And this too will pass.

  14. onlydads says:

    So true!. People often say to me “it must be difficult being both mum and dad”.

    …my reply is “not at all – because I can only be dad”

    Bob x

  15. It hurts but it’s time to be proud. Proud that you’ve raised a happy, balanced child who is increasingly finding not only independence but also the confidence to take hold of the reigns herself. Proud that you’re putting aside your own feelings and any bitterness with your ex, and supporting your daughter in what she wants. Exemplary.

    Your daughter will always know who’s raised her, loved her, made sacrifices for her and it’s only inevitable as she grows she wants to spread her wings. But this doesn’t diminish your role, nor indeed your place in her heart. Sometimes we simply have to let go, and help them with their journey.

    The recent battles with F4J and Mumsnet have created a gender war where separation’;s concerned – this post as much as any shows it’s not about dads or mums but about children, and indeed parents of either gender.

    Big hugs, you bloody well deserve them.

    Chrissie x

  16. I was moved so much by your post, that i felt compelled to reply. I do not “know” you, so I feel as if I am impinging on your privacy. But as a follower of you on twitter, I see the tremendous work and love you put into Onlydads, at times I have admired your tenacity and at times felt the complete frustration in not being able to be the best you can be.. But you are the best you can be, it seems you have been a rock to not only your clients, but a solid rock to your family. I am a single parent to two children now aged 17 and 19, at the time when their dad left they were 2 & 3, unlike you, their dad has basically disowned them, and left them feeling very isolated at times.
    As much as you are hurting now, you have been and are a wonderful father, and as I see it, by your daughter spending extra time with her mum, will also give them the bonds that you have now.. relationships are very tricky, but to create happy & healthy adults knowing and loving both parents is all we can ask for. this is not a door closing for you all, this is a wonderful opportunity for you to help others who may encounter the same issues. After all, life is a learning curve… And you would be bereft if she was leaving you now, to go off with some irresponsible young man 😉
    You will make her the dinners and still put food on the table, provide a home and heart.
    And we all know what it means & how it feels to love and feel like we could fly….
    I wish you all the very best on this new journey of discovery

  17. Julia says:

    Bob

    That your daughter feels safe and secure enough to say what she wants and needs and that she knows she’s going to be heard is the best comment on the job you’ve done with her that you could get. As others have said, this moment/phase in her life is important for her to grow up and into the person she’s going to be. As parents it IS our job to bear the way that feels and to deal with that ourselves, knowing that we’ve put the children first and that they aren’t trying to “look after” us.
    Excellent, brave post.

  18. Jean says:

    I know that I am late coming to this blog by about seven months or so, but what I don’t get is, why no commenter on this blog, said anything about the girls getting to a point in their female development, where they would need to be with their mother, the like gender parent
    I am not accusing anyone of showing favoritism to the dad, or exalting him, or over praising him, but if this had been a mom, saying that a judge gave her custody of her two boys, most of the commenters would have lambasted the woman and told her that she was being selfish for trying to raise her boys alone, away from the dad. The commenters would have scolded her to tell her the boys need to be with their dad and that someday the boys would hate or resent her, and on and on and on.
    Why do we treat single moms differently from single dads? Just curious!

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