You Have Custody? Chronicles of a Single Dad By Sho E. Nuff
First off let me just say that the trials and tribulations of a single dad are no more challenging than those of a single mom. However, just as men and women are different, so are the challenges as moms and dads.
For those that have known me most of my life, I have been told that I was built to be a dad - mostly because of my protective nature of people close to me, as well as my desire to nurture, educate and empower. So when I became a dad it was the single most life changing event in my life. Even before my divorce it was decided that custody of my son would be mine, and that decision was mutual between my ex and I. I know plenty of people who are single dads, but I was the only one I knew who was a custodial parent.
I remember when I told my mom what was going to happen. She looked at me like she wasn’t sure she heard me right. “You will have custody?” and I said, “Yes, is that a problem?”
Now I do realize that it's not as common as mothers with custody, but it's not like I said I was getting a sex change. From that point on when I explained to people that I had custody, I felt as if I was spending my time either defending my ability as a dad...or defending my ex’s honor as a mom - mostly from other women who said things like, “Is it because SHE can’t handle it?” or “Well if it was me I couldn’t do that.”
It was as if I was a second class parent, or my ex was an unfit mother. Most of the time I felt like saying, “Well this ain’t you bitch, so keep your fuckin' judgmental tones to yourself!” Alas I didn’t because, well, it's not a good example for my son :-)
I have had to deal with teachers asking to have a conference with my ex and not me, or assumptions that his mother would be going on the school trips and not me. My parents have been divorced since I was like 3, and I spent time living with my mom and my dad...so I have seen a man as a custodial parent. Maybe that’s why it's not as hard for me to understand. People get so caught up in what the gender roles are supposed to be that they limit not only the person they are judging, but also themselves. We shouldn’t just enforce equal rights, but also equal roles. Why do you think its so hard for men to teach younger grades without a concern of “appropriate behavior”?
I understand maternal instinct, but some of us have a paternal instinct - and that is just as valid. I understand that there are plenty of baby daddies out there who aren’t doing shit for their kids, but show respect to those who are. Don’t forget my big piece of chicken too.
Over the years, I've been blessed to have spent time with, befriend, love, learn from and share experiences with people who have helped me grow and inspire me everyday. They have shared words of wisdom, strengthened me with encouragement, gave me joy with a smile, comforted me with a hug, gave clarity to my visions and dreams and renewed my spirit with faith. It is through family and friends that I manage to be happy and hopeful.
These relationships work because we share our philosophies, our personal truths and an outlook that prompts us to seek something greater in all and in ourselves. Sharing a journey heartedly illuminates our lives and enriches our experiences. It keeps us moving....always evolving....ever changing.
I have been transformed by the wisdom, opinions, insights and revelations of those who have shared their journey with me. It's a blessing I long to share with you through my first ever blog. For me, writing is a reflection of my own direct experience and I look forward to all of you sharing your thoughts and experiences with me.
So...with that said....can I just say.....??? :-)