To say my time in the world of fatherhood has been off script could probably be one of the universe’s greatest understatements.
When I was in my early 20s, looking at marriage and starting my life, there was never a question of if I wanted kids. I had the house, the wife, in my mind, kids were just an eventuality.
15 years later, I wasn’t wrong in terms of having kids. I’m a father of 3! It’s just the story between then and now went a little “off-broadway”.
We start with the aforementioned wife suddenly having a different vision for life. A year and a half into the marriage, it was over. Married and divorced from my high school sweetheart before 25. Not exactly a land speed record, but worth a footnote mention.
Heartbroken and lost, I tried making up for the lost years of early 20s poor decisions in the span of a few months. A few missteps along the way and suddenly I found myself in the position I technically wanted to be in, in my mid to late twenties: an expectant father. Only things started and ended squarely on that spot for how I envisioned things years earlier.
Nine months later, I found myself the father of a son, who did not share my last name, with a mother who I was not with.
A lot goes on in those first ten months. An unmeasurable amount of bonding time lost. Father and son are essentially strangers.
Not exactly the father-son story you’ll find in Golden Books, but it was our story and we’ve been writing and revising it for the past 14 years.
A multitude of things have happened in the course of those 14 years, as you would expect, and while we’ve only been together a sliver of all that time, he’s still my son. We’re not as close as I’d like, and he still occasionally looks at me with those same eyes that looked up at me 14+ years ago, wondering who I was.
I wish I could say it was just one of those things, but looking back, I think I ended up marrying her because she was the exact opposite of my first ex-wife.
While she is the textbook ex-wife and all the joys that goes into that, she is the woman who gave me my daughter. So she at least has that going for her.
Again going back to those nice early days in my 20s when I was full of granger and not yet jaded by the Universe, I never envisioned I’d be a divorcee. Yet before I turned 35, I already had 2 divorces under my belt.
Two kids, two divorces. I was so far onto the unseen path! Forget roads less traveled or any of that malarkey. I was nowhere on the map. I found myself divorced for a second time (not really heartbroken over that aspect), devastated being separated from my daughter, and frankly feeling clueless what my role in life was going to be.
I filled the next few years with chasing things I felt I did not have. I was a dad without kids. So I did not shy away from mothers who had children that had fathers that were not entirely in the picture. I tried my best to fake happiness. Made some clueless and boneheaded decisions that rivaled anything I had done prior. I’m sure I was depressed at points. I was a mess.
Third Time is the Charm
It took me about 5 years to get my head on straight. Arguably the straightest it had been in my adult life.
I was on my way out of my last relationship when my eyes were caught by who would become my wife a few short years later. Despite all the chaos and disasters I had left in my wake for the past 15+ plus years, she accept me and my kids.
All roads lead to where you’re meant to go, even the unknown and unseen.
It took all of three years for us to become engaged, then married, and now with a son.
As with all things, our son has proven not to be what we had envisioned or anticipated. It’s been a rollercoaster, just like with his siblings before him. Each child has given me something unique. Rather, it’s fighting to be a father, fighting against the demons of separation, or fighting against the fear of the unknown. My children have run me through the gambit for sure.
Through and through, though, they’re my children. No amount of separation, chaos, trials, or mourning of what was missed or expected can change any of that.
They make me who I am. They make me a father. Be it a father of circumstances, a father of divorce, or a special needs father. I am a father. Period.
This may have been the unknown road, but it’s my road to walk, and I walk it proud!