There is another man in her life and I am happy for her. There is room for more than one and it is an opportunity for her that I welcome and embrace. I am not talking about some form of polyamory here but I am talking about my daughters. As a father I have a privileged position in the lives of my single daughters and I like being the main man in their lives, but the other day I reflected as I realised that both of my single daughters had other men in their lives and I gave thanks. The other men are important for a number of reasons. I celebrate the fact that they are there.
Having other significant adults in the lives of my children is important to me. Whilst I give it my best as a parent I am aware that like all of us I have areas in my life that just don’t quite get there, and that my view of the world whilst pretty broad it is just my view. So having other people to expand and add to that is important. I am blessed that there are other men who are fathers that take an interest in my children and encourage, challenge and educate them in a number of ways. These men include my children in their family and they are made to feel welcome.
This brings me some comfort. At times I have wondered and indeed worried what might happen should I no longer be around. For a number of reasons this is a significant issue for me. Sole parenting is sometimes a very lonely and difficult position to be. Without putting too fine a point on it often it works out that one parent can be absent in terms of influence and impact on children’s lives. In my case I feel as they I am both mum and dad at times for my children and I cannot help but worry that I do not do an adequate job, although I am oft assured that I am.
My reflection on this issue is ignited on this occasion by a couple of incidents. Friday night my son burst in and presented me with a shirt that needed a button sewed on. I replaced the button and secured another loose one and he asked me how I had learnt to sew on buttons, ouch my mum taught me. I realised that it is yet another thing that I will need to pass onto my children, list it amongst, cooking, cleaning tidying etc. Now I am not sexist and believe firmly in an equitable division of labour but that is a little difficult in my case.
The second incident that set me thinking was my daughter hurting herself on the netball court. I kind of dismissed it and helped her to harden up in essence. Her team had no reserves and needed her. She did fall over and hit her head on the asphalt and banged her knee. One of the parents commented that she was probably looking for sympathy. I replied in a flippant manner that she was looking in the wrong direction as I did not have much capacity for sympathy. Later that night as I reflected on my day I was troubled by my reply. Was this true, had I lost some of my compassion towards my children? I think probably it is just a situational context. I love my children and take care of them the best I can. Sometimes a narrative of pain and tiredness can briefly wash over me.
The only caveat I would register about my girls having another man in their lives is really about safety. Julia’s friends parents know who I am and the fact that I am a single parent. I never transport here friends without Julia being there and I do not allow any other man to transport her by her self. Unfortunately experience in the past and the stories I have heard about this preclude me form allowing this to happen at any time, (barring emergencies). The nub of the story around my daughter hurting herself was the genuine concern one of the other men showed for her., It made me check myself to see if I was being a bit blasé. My daughter is tough and she was fine.
If you had said to me a year ago I would be happy that she had other father figures in her life I would have probably disagreed. It would be nice for her to have an older female friend to relate to, her older sisters do a good job but it is not quite the same. As I have said before when I was actively dating, my children don’t need another mum (that is another story) but a great friend would be good. I am a package deal, it is my children and I that come together and any relationship where that is an issue just in the end will not work. This in some ways saddens me as it is difficult to finds that kind of a person but I take it on board in the reverse. When I find the right person if they have children then they are indeed part of the package deal. End of story. I am sure that I will be able to be a good friend.
In the mean time be aware of the singles with children around you, it may be surprising the impact you are having on their children and in their lives.