Waking up at the crack of dawn sucks. It just does. Well, it does for me.
I’ve never been a morning person. I never will be. I like to get up at about 9 or 10AM. Well, that’s just not the life I’ve chosen to live.
You see, I get up so early for a reason.
I usually arrive home from work at 11PM. I’m totally wired and wide awake. I eventually wind down so I can get to sleep at around 1AM. My alarm goes off in the morning, but I snooze for a few more minutes before I jump out of bed. I try to shake the cobwebs out of my brain and think of where I parked my car so I can go pick up my kids.
I drive over to my ex-wife’s house and get my kids at 7:15AM. We spend about 45 minutes to an hour getting to school. There are mornings where we just listen to the radio. We sometimes laugh about stories from the previous day or if we see something silly on the way. When a serious event happens in our country, we might have a brief thought provoking discussion. When I see the opportunity, I let my kids know about some cold hard truths about growing up in America. They soak it all up like sponges. In the end, I have that special time with just me and my kids. It’s time well spent.
I get the balance of my sleep some time during the day by taking naps if I’m not working. I ain’t afraid to admit, I LOVE naps. Later in the day, I pick them up from school and we spend the afternoon together at my place until I bring them to their mom’s house after I cook them dinner.
It’s exhausting, but totally worth every hour I miss of sleep during the night.
Why do I do this to myself? Well, I asked this question every morning when I got out of bed to get my kids. As soon as I think of why I do what I do, I think of how much I love my kids.
I love them. I really do.
After 15 years of fatherhood, nothing has changed. I’ve been there since the beginning. I’m glad I saw every little step my kids have taken over the years and witnessed every little development along the way. Our time is very limited on this planet and I am making sure I spend as much of it as I possibly can with my kids before they are adults and off on their own.
I wasn’t going to allow any silly “family court” system to keep me away from this. I’ll lose all kinds of sleep but I won’t lose out on being a father. That’s just not going to happen. I made sure of that.
We love our kids as much as mothers. We care too. We want to be there as much as we can even though we may be tired, working long hours, traveling, busting our ass to get a promotion or more money or any other thing that might keep us temporarily separate.
We are not the babysitter. We are the guidance the protection, the focus, the spiritual uplift, the support system, the provider, the backbone, the rock, the stability, the L-O-V-E.
I heard about this artist and song a while ago after chatting with a colleague of mine named Felton Offard on Facebook. (he’s an amazing guitarists by the way). He hipped me to this guy Sho Baraka. Sho has a great new album out called ” The Narrative.”
I think this is right on point:
I learned that love ain’t based on performance
Make a mistake and I will love you in the morning
I see life in my children’s eyes
And when I’m wrong I’ll be the first to apologize
Peace to all my fathers who are working through their flaws
Fulfilling their duties and they don’t do it for applause
It’s true, any fool with a tool can reproduce
But a father is that dude that’ll see it through
Forget the stereotypes lets be clear
There are good men out there we are here
How do you spell dad?
It goes L-O-V-E
How do you spell dad?
It goes L-O-V-E
How do you spell dad?
Looking back at how my parents raised me, I realize how important the lessons of responsibility are to children.
I remember my father always reminding me to clean my room. He would make me take out the garbage, mow the lawn, help wash his car and clean the garage. He would offer to wash the dishes if I dried them and vice versa. No, it wasn’t a real offer, it was his way of telling me what I was going to do. He was, in his own way, giving me a small say in the matter.
My mother taught me how to separate the colors when washing clothes, how to iron and fold sheets. She taught me how to dust, polish furniture, how to set the table, how to sew on a button and how to keep our home looking spotless.
My father told me time and time again to stand up straight. He instructed me on how to shake a person’s hand as well as how to speak up with authority.
My mother was supportive. SHE was the one who bought my first set of drums from my cousin. She was the one who said I could make it as a musician. And I eventually did.
I know things are different at my ex-wife’s home, but there is very little I can do about that at this point in my life. All I know is what happens in my home. When our kids are with me, they know that one of their responsibilities is to set the table for the dinner that I cook for them that evening. They also help make the food with me. After we eat, they clear the table, sweep the floor, and wipe the table and counters. When they sleep over, they make their bed in the morning.
After school each day, my kids know they should never come in my apartment and drop everything to go and play. They must first hang up their coats and put their shoes in the right location. If they get a chance to play after their homework, they take out their toys and put them away where they got them after they are finished. They make sure their room is in the same condition that they found it.
I am starting to notice how my son gets up in the morning, usually before I do, and dresses himself. He is so proud. He also tells me to look in his room because he already made his own bed! My daughter makes it a priority to have her hair washed and styled before we have breakfast in the morning. She also sets the table before we all have breakfast.
While it’s not perfect, after many years as a single father, it seems like things are starting to get into a groove at daddy’s house. It can be rough on a single person to run a home as the only adult. I don’t recommend it at all. I still don’t see the attraction of the choice of single parenthood. Since I was forced into this life, I will make the best out of difficult situation.
I love the day-to-day aspects of raising children and think having a solid foundation like I had growing up helps. I feel it is important to pass on these values to our children.
I don’t know what other people do, but I feel it is important to teach responsibility to our children and to hold them accountable. It helps prepare them for life on their own.
Many of these lessons last a lifetime.
Back in 2012, I completed an interview for a Columbia University graduate student of journalism named Acacia Squires. She found me through a post I made on a website about single parenthood and thought I would be a good person to talk with about my experiences being a single father in New York City.
I want to share my story.
Some people call it the “pay up or shut up” model; that’s when fathers pay for child support and alimony after divorce, but loose custody of their children. In modern law, parents’ gender shouldn’t matter, only the child’s welfare is important, but research shows that judge’s bias can lead to unequal treatment in the courtroom. In the first of this three part series on single fatherhood, we look at the story of one Manhattan dad and his fight for his children after divorce.
I spoke with my son yesterday on the phone and asked him how his after school program is going. Unfortunately, I’ve been out of town so I haven’t been able to see his transition into his new school this fall. Usually, he doesn’t tell me much but he sure was eager to let me know of a new activity.
My little man said he was in a thing they called “Rock Band.” There is one kid who is about his age who plays guitar. He said, “Dad, I heard him play and he is good.” “He played a bunch of notes really fast on his guitar and I was Iike, WHOA!”
I asked him, “well, what are you going to play?” “Well, I’m playing the drums,” he replied. He went on to say, “they have a bunch of pieces for the drum set but still need more cymbals, I think” “They gave me some sticks and asked me to play something, so I did.”
He let me know that they were impressed with his ability to play a beat or two. I guess he is a natural at the drums? Maybe it’s genetic.
I asked him how many other kids are in the after school activity. He said there was about five kids total. I said, “that is great!” I asked, “who else is in the band?” He said, “the teacher is playing the bass, and that is it , so far”
I told him its a great foundation for a band. He then told me that after he played a little beat, he let everyone know that his father plays drums too.
He said, “yeah, he’s a PROFESSIONAL!”
They were pretty excited to know that this kid has a dad who actually makes a living from playing music. I guess it elevated his status a little.
It might have been cooler if his dad played in an actual rock band, but I guess, two Tony Award winning broadway musicals ain’t too bad.
I think the kids would want to know what a professional musician does. Maybe I’ll come in an start a school of rock at his school in conjunction with the Rock Band class. Who knows, maybe there will be a musical made from this idea…oh wait….Andrew Lloyd Webber already took that idea.
It’s fun to hear how excited my son is to be involved in that activity. We’ll see if he really wants to spend more time learning drums or doing what he really seems to spend most of his time engaged in. That would be the game of soccer. He is as passionate about soccer as I was about drums at his age.
We’ll see what happens. Maybe I’ll give him a lesson or two when I get back to town.