They Have Another Life

I’ve often lamented that I’m a part-time father. I hate that I only get to spend half of my life with my children. I’m lost on the weekends they aren’t with me. While those first few moments of peace and quiet are a welcome respite, not long afterward I begin to miss the noise of C’s laughter. Or the house shaking as the twins wrestle in their room.

The fact of the matter is, despite how much I loathe my situation I’m quite lucky. In a lot of states fathers don’t get equal parenting rights. Just a few miles north of me in Ohio, more often than not the best a father can hope for is one day a week and every other weekend with his children. I would absolutely die if that was all the time I could spend with my children.

It’s been eight years since I left the twins mother, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done for a variety of reasons. First and foremost was gathering up the courage to leave an abusive marriage. The real hurdle for me was leaving the children. I didn’t really leave them, but it felt like I did. I didn’t get to come home to them every night. I didn’t get to tuck them in every night. I didn’t get to wake them every morning. I didn’t get to eat dinner with them every evening. I didn’t get to ask them how school was every day. Frankly, I stayed in that horrible marriage so long mostly for them. I didn’t want this life for them. I didn’t want to be away from them.

It took the next five years to come to grips with our new normal. I had to keep their bedroom door closed when they weren’t there because seeing their room without them inside often brought me to tears. A few months after C was born, though, I didn’t have time to even think about the fact that they weren’t there because raising an infant takes every bit of your attention.

Now I’m a part-time father for him, too, and I fucking hate it even more. The worst part isn’t that I only get to share half of my life with him. No. The worst part is he only gets to share half of his life with his brothers, the twins, who absolutely adore him and he them. C loves his “bubbies.” They play. They wrestle. They laugh. They have a blast. I love watching and hearing them play. That they don’t get all the time in the world together makes me inescapably morose.

I’ve realized yet another thing I loathe about being a part-time father.

It never really dawned on me until now, but my children have completely separate lives when they’re away from me. I don’t know why it never occurred to me, but it struck me yesterday as my mom was telling me how C was going on about swimming with his Granny, his mother, and her new boyfriend/fiancée/whatever. He’s having a whole other life of fun without me.

Then, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed just a few short minutes ago, I came across a picture of the twins and their cousins – cousins on their mother’s side of the family – and it hit me. The twins have a whole other life, too. They have an aunt, an uncle, a mawmaw, cousins, and an entire church full of friends in their lives when they aren’t with me. While looking at this picture I felt like I was looking at children I merely thought I knew. Like, they looked familiar, but I couldn’t place them. It was a truly disconcerting and disturbing feeling. I didn’t like it.

This isn’t how it was supposed to be. My children weren’t supposed to have facets of their lives inaccessible to me. Not until they were adults, anyhow. But they do. The twins have lived dual lives since they were 6. C on and off since he was two. I’m not gonna lie…it hurts. It hurts that they have separate lives of which I have no part. That I can’t relate to. That I only get to hear about and not experience with them. I feel like I have this hole in my heart that was supposed to be filled by all these experiences with them that will remain empty because I’ll never have them.

I love my children. I love being a father. But I don’t like being a part-time father and this is just one more reason why. Often times I wish they’d never have to leave me, but were that to come true they’d never have these alternate lives fulfilling them. That what be selfish of me and harmful to them.

Just once I’d like for life to be easy.

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About Twindaddy (332 Articles)
Sometimes funny. Sometimes serious. Always genuine.

59 Comments on They Have Another Life

  1. I’m actually in the opposite situation, and now that my oldest has gone off to university I see her even less. I’d often cry all the way home from the drive dropping them back off with their mother.

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  2. I have a feeling that the twins and Baby C don’t much love this arrangement either…

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  3. Oh this is so very powerful. It shows your love for your children…all of them. On the positive side, how cool for them that they get to have these two different lives with two parents who put them first. That they get the best of both worlds, while you suffer. But that is what makes you a great dad. That you never try to stifle that other life. you let them share. You let them relish in the experience rather than forcing them to feel guilty they had fun without you.

    Doesn’t make it easier, for sure. But it shows that as much as love hurts it heals when they do come home

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    • I would never make them feel guilty for that. It’s great the my children have SO many people who love and adore them. Sometimes, though, I feel selfish and want them all to myself.

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  4. I can’t relate personally. I have said lots of times that I understand why parents stay together for the children. Not waking up with them in my house every morning would be…awful, but you’re right. They have two sets of lives. Two sets of people who love them. I think it’s not as bad for the kids as it is for you, and I’m sorry you have to experience any heartache. You’re an amazing dad. So many men would revel in the fact that they don’t have to have all of the responsibility all of the time, yet you want that. I admire you, more than you know. I’m here if you’re ever sad. But this you do know.

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    • I can’t understand anyone who wants nothing to do with their children, whether it’s a woman OR a man.

      Thank you for being so supportive and amazing, stalker.

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  5. You are a good guy, as we knew. I am divorced, too and have my kids half time. I know how hard it is but you have taught your kids a very VERY important lesson, don’t settle. Don’t suffer in misery when you have control over it. My parents stayed married when they shouldn’t have. I think I have taught my girls that living in a miserable household even though the parents are married isn’t the best the world has to offer.

    Hang in there. You have done the right thing.
    xo mag

    Liked by 1 person

    • “I think I have taught my girls that living in a miserable household even though the parents are married isn’t the best the world has to offer.”

      Marriage, to me, is completely overrated. Somehow marriage get’s placed above almost everything, yet a marriage without the love and devotion that should go with it are secondary.

      I have completely soured on marriage. For one, getting a divorce is costly, bitter, and heartbreaking…even if you’re the one who wanted it. Secondly, and more importantly, people change once they’re married. At least, in my experience they do. I don’t know what it is, but there’s a change once that contract is signed, and it’s not a good change.

      Personally, I don’t need a piece of paper to love and be committed to someone. And from my perspective, a signed piece of paper isn’t going to prove to me that someone loves me.

      I’ll try to impart these things to my children without showing how truly jaded I am by marriage. Hopefully, I’ll succeed.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Without sounding too much like an asshole Drill Sergeant, you need to cut yourself a fucking break, Scott. You took a shitty situation and managed to dig out all the corn. Maybe not the best analogy, but believe me when I say those kids will turn out far better than you expect or fear. Kids are resilient and understand more than we give them credit for. Your youngest knows nothing else, but one suggestion might be to express all of this to the twins in a ‘manly’ way. Just so they know that you see it… because they already do. They’ll love and appreciate you for that alone.

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  7. *sigh* My dear BTFFFL, this is heartbreaking stuff, and you’re right to feel it and right to hate it, because the bonds of fatherhood are (ideally) so strong because Dads are MEANT to be able to be there for their kids – that’s absolutely what the parental bond is all about, and the pain erupts in the place between the ‘meant to be’ and the ‘how it is’, and there will always be a wistful, agonising knowledge that your family – your children’s lives, and your relationships with them – is not as it should be.

    THAT SAID

    As the child in a toxic household, subject to the abuse from parents I begged to split up, and desperately needed rescuing from and didn’t get…all I can say is that if the relationships with the boys’ moms was so bad, then it truly, truly is best for EVERYONE that your family dynamic looks like this, rather than something akin to what I grew up in. I promise.

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  8. One of the most wonderful things about you is your endless love for your kids. I’m sorry to hear about this, because that sucks… Nevertheless you made the right decision to leave their mothers. That’s for sure. But yeah, life never gets easy, there will always be things like this. The only bright side is that you obviously love and care about your children so much. You will always have a part of their life. Not everything, but a big part.

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  9. (Hugs) you are an awesome father.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Better to be an awesome father 100% of the 50% of the time you have them, than for them to be exposed to a toxic relationship between mom and dad 100% of the time. Lemonade from lemons, Scott. 🙂

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  11. Scott,

    I can relate to this both as a child who was shared 50-50 by my parents, and as a parent who has shared my child (notwithstanding my current single parent status).

    If it helps you at all, having two sets of support systems can be an amazing thing as your children grow up. They will learn to be more resilient, better able to manage their relationships, and likely more accepting of different types of people – because they are being explosed to different rules, relationships, and types of people.

    So while it’s weird for me to think of my son having a life outside me, I know that for him it’s just a bunch more people who love him.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. While I can’t pretend to know exactly how it must feel to have to divide your kids between two households, I know how scary and disconcerting it can be to know that your kids have lives that you’re not a part of. Again, this is *such* an extrapolated comparison, but C is going to start preschool in the next couple weeks, and the idea of her being in a situation all on her own and forging relationships that I don’t be totally privy to is bizarre. But the one thing that you and I can both say is that we’ve set the groundwork for openness and love with our kids. There’s some major stock in that.

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    • Thanks, Em. That picture just hit me, ya know? It’s like I knew those kids, but at the same time I didn’t know those kids because I wasn’t there when that picture was taken. It made me feel pretty empty inside for a while.

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  13. Sorry. I have no words of advice. I have nothing to say to lift your spirits… but I think you hit upon it at the end. You should be proud of the sons you are helping to raise and the adventures they are having with and without you. An easy life would be a boring life.

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  14. The separate life happens much, much sooner than you’d think. I remember watching my daughter disappear into school for kindergarten and thinking it was a metaphorical threshold. That’s the moment she started a secret life that I’m not privy to. It’s the natural and proper progression, sad as it makes us.

    I don’t want to get all Oprah on yo ass but life is never going to be easy. That’s the nature of the beast, I’m afraid. Not trying to be negative but it’s a struggle. Fortunately, we are saved by islands of joy that pop up in our path.

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    • Oh, I know life isn’t ever going to be easy. It hasn’t been to this point and I don’t ever see that changing. But I can dream, can’t I? Or at least bitch about it…

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  15. It is hard. I really is. I found that appreciating that my son had all these other people who love and support him is good for HIM.

    At least that is how I consoled myself.

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  16. I’m so sorry, Scott. I can’t even imagine how you must have felt when it struck you.
    I seem to never be of any help to you…just wanted you to know that I’m a huge fan of the way you take care of your kiddos. It touches me at the heart. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I love how much you love your kids. xx

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  18. This is the most honest & raw I’ve ever heard you speak. & That’s saying a lot because you share a lot of deep, meaningful parts of your life.
    Is there any way you could plan something like them staying for the entire summer or something? I know it would be difficult with work but, hey, it would be more time.

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  19. You know…sometimes it’s good to have a little pity party for ourselves. Because when we snap out if it, we appreciate what we have so much more. 🙂

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  20. Lisa @ The Meaning of Me // February 16, 2015 at 11:18 pm // Reply

    Scott, I am so so sorry. My parents divorced when I was five. No matter how great anybody was about it or how lucky I think we were compared to other kids who had much worse situation than we did, it sucked. So from a part-time kid to a part-time dad…huge hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. My stepdaughter was a little over a year old when I met my husband. He had her every other weekend and one night a week. His ex was very bitter and could make things difficult. He never wavered. He saw her as much as he could and always offered to take her whenever possible. It was a nightmare sometimes and I know it was hard on him. It got a little easier when she was older and was able to make decisions for herself and now that she’s 18 and in college it’s no longer an issue. I honestly feel for fathers who want to see their kids, do all they can to support them but have their hearts ripped apart every time they have to take their children back “home” or their ex-wife, partner, etc. makes it difficult. Just keep loving them. They know. Trust me.

    You’re a good dad, Scott.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In the beginning, the twin’s mom was pretty bitter and I had to fight her for my time with them and even had to call the cops on her once because she showed up at my house and started making a scene. I had to lock the twins in my room and turn on a movie so they wouldn’t know their mom was outside the door going crazy.

      C’s mom has her faults, but one of them has never been trying to use C as leverage, so thank God for that. I do recognize that I have it better than a lot of single dads, but it’s still tough sometimes.

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  22. It’s probably just as tough for their mothers too. Basically, it sucks for all of you. I’m super proud that you’re doing your best with the situation though. ((((hugs))))

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