Having kids makes you a better human being, or it ruins your children. You either change and succumb to the pressure of being in charge of your child’s life or you break under the weight, damaging your children in the process. Being a parent is the most rewarding job I think I will ever have. I have three children and two different mothers. These people all arrived in my life in only four years time, give or take. Sometimes I am mournful of the reality of my divorce. The quality and commitment of my relationship with Savanah sets my mind at ease and dwindles some of the shame associated. We are a committed pair who plan on finding burial plots together. It is a fact of fatherhood to need a partner. I assume it is a fact of motherhood too, but for too long, I think that a corrupt and sexist civil judicial system has encouraged mothers to partner with the state and separate from their children’s fathers. This partnership has for too long alienated fathers and children.
I am grateful for my journey. I have an equitable share of parenting time 50/50 and the once double standard of child support doesn’t affect me as I am not ordered to pay any. This too is a change from a normative set of decisions made by the courts that sentence men to 18 years of payments to a woman that may not have ever loved him coupled with alienation from his children. Navigating the Divorce process in Illinois has taught me a lot. I feel much more informed and resilient having come through that. I am grateful that my wife and I have a positive, steady and stable relationship with my two oldest daughters. Now that my wife is carrying her first child and my first son, our entire household is excited for him to arrive into this world.
My children’s mother is far too often angry, in some ways in denial and far to desiring to hurt me and my household. She makes numerous attempts to do this, we see her weekly when we send our children to her house for a visit. On these occasions, she is all too willing to express her discontent either verbally, passively or with her body language. This is to be expected, after all, I divorced her. However, what is strange is her lack of acknowledgment for our past, a past in which she must realize was terribly unhealthy, abusive in all manners and completely inappropriate for children. So why is she really all that upset? This is the puzzling part in my mind. A failure to recognize that our situations have improved. She no longer has a life full of the complaints she had and neither do I. I suppose she feels rejected. Even though that was our mode of operation while married, rejecting each other.
Nothing can diminish my fatherhood, not my divorce or the negative nature of my relationship with my children’s mother nothing can separate me from my desire or ability to parent like a champion. Even in the face of her attempts to wound my resolve, even when those attempts are perpetrated by maternal grandparents, I remain deeply committed to my children’s well-being. I know that their continued positive growth and development is affected by the quality of my relationship with my wife. My children value their stepmother. I value my wife above all. We make our house a home. We are a family. Despite the realities that ought to have otherwise sealed my fate to repeat the same mistakes of my mother and father, and to follow the example of “adulthood” that they gave me. Thankfully, because of my children and my grandmother, I am not following that example.
I am so frequently reminded to thank God that I am not living in a one bedroom shack, or an alcoholic, or bound by the traumas of yesteryear. It took commitment to rewire my brain, it took therapy. It took access to the outside world and its forms and methods. To understand a better way of living than the example given to me. Now that I am a father of three and happily married I have an even stronger commitment to my own personal growth and development and the positive growth of my relationship with my wife Savanah. That commitment has my eyes upward to a loving God who is desiring of my obedience to his commandments. I desire to be The Church. I desire for my family to be the body of Christ. To me, that looks like in the most simple of terms – Love. The expression of never-ending love between each of us. More specifically this looks like the teaching of lessons, the provision of discipline and a commitment to interdependent accountability, committed partnership and shared goals. My wife functions as the emotional center of the family, she is giving, loving, and dutiful to teach discipline with love. As the father, my function is the embodiment of a family leader. I give instruction and loving discipline, together me and my wife hold each other accountable to the path we desire to walk. We make joint decisions with one requisite, our decisions must promote our shared goals.
With this model, our family cannot fail. With the strength of commitment and resolve, we can overcome challenges together and navigate the proverbial minefield of life. With two willing partners a family functions. I have been rewarded to finally be apart of one. Now I can enjoy the pleasure in the challenge of Fatherhood.