Featured Father, June 2008

Member Name: cisco

Tell us about how you became a single dad.
My story began about 5 years ago. Thankfully, my circumstances were far less dramatic than many members of our forum have to share, but it remains the most stressful time of my life.

My sons mother and I were together for 9 years. We had the usual drama present in many relationships, but during the last 6 months of our time together the change was evident. More distance between us, less sharing of anything, me working a full time job and struggling to start a part time job doing web design. She was a student finishing up her Graphic Design classes, after which we had made plans to relocate to another city.

The short version of the story: she was very depressed at having become a mother too soon and felt she had missed out on her youthful years while being with me for so many years. She no longer wanted to move, felt little towards having a committed relationship with me, and wanted to end things.

Tell us about your family.
I have children with two women. My son is 7 and his litle sister is not yet 2- they both have birthdays in November just 5 days apart. I have shared custody of my son, and my daughters mother and I live together and have been together for about 3 years.

My son adores his little sister, and she thinks he is the funniest thing ever, and the two of them have provided more happiness in my life than I could compare to anything else.

Share a story about a memory involving your children.
The most recent "special" time is just watching the 2 of them ride around the yard in my son's litle Jeep. When my daughter climbs in- it's her signal that she is ready to take a ride! So my son gets in and puts his arm around her neck so she doesn't bump her head when he takes off. Meanwhile she just sits back and squeals at being bumped around.

What traditions have you created in your family that you could share with us?
I can't say that we actually have any "traditions". I guess that's something we need to work on.

The closest thing I can say is that we have been going to Mt. Airy, NC (better known as "Mayberry" from the Andy Griffith Show) for their annual festivals- the Fall festival and "Mayberry Days". This year we plan to stop in and tour one of the Wineries on our way up.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced (or are facing) as a single father?
The constant emotional changes that shared custody brings. I am lucky enough to live in the same zip code as my sons mother lives in, so we are close by and split our time with him equally during the week.

Still though, when he is away- he is AWAY. Which at times leaves me completely aimless, depressed and just bitter in general. Not because he is with his mom, but because he isn't with me and there isn't a damn thing that can change the fact. It causes bitterness and distance- which is hard to disguise and not have an effect on the other members of my family - or to anyone I may meet on the streets.

I recall one occasion early on in the seperation. My ex and I still lived in the same neighborhood and one evening we ran into one another at the grocery. My son lit up and was happy to see me, but my ex and I were on bad terms and I was left really confused on how to deal with the situation. I felt totally cheated at not being able to relax and enjoy some simple small talk with my own son- it was her night to have him and I was greeted by her as if I was invading her space.

It ended on a fair note- I was cuddly with my son for a few moments, lied and said I was in a real hurry because I was hungry, and then I went on, dropped a couple more items in the basket and headed out.

What encouraging advice do you have for other single fathers or soon-to-be single fathers?
It gets easier with time. You learn to deal with the unexpected more easily.

I also recommend settling into a routine with your child(ren) as soon as possible. Consider how the whole deal affects them as well and become as reassuring as possible. You will adjust, emotions will settle. It takes discipline- so if you don't have that (I didn't!)- get some!

What else would you like to share?
This may come off cheesy- but I am proud of this web site. When this ordeal began for me, I had never felt so lost. I had a few friends to confide in, and I did, but even though they listened and offered advice- none of them had experienced what I was going through. A break-up is one thing, but becoming separated from your kid is entirely different.

When I joined the site I felt at home, but I felt incredibly needy- I felt like a pest, like a whiner, etc. But the guys stepped in and offered advice, everyone was pretty direct with their comments. I received a warm welcome and endless encouragement - and everything said was in an up front and honest way.

Like most people, I left the board for a while. I had shared my story, I shared advice with newer members, and I felt like I had contributed at least enough to become repetitive and possibly boring, telling the same story and giving the same advice repeatedly.

But a couple of members emailed me to say that the site was rumoured to be going down, or to be unattended for awhile, and it felt like a loss to me. I wondered what the alternative would be for guys like myself who find themselves in such a difficult transition. I had looked at plenty of forums before joining this one- none of them were as complete (and I still feel this one needs much more to be considered "complete")- and so I set out to ensure the site would remain available.

So- I just hope that the site is as helpful to thers as it has been for myself. If you've gotten anything from it, please give something back to the newer guys- or to anyone who posts here seeking some support, reassurance, or who might just want to relate to others who are familiar with their situation.

Where do you see the future of your "responsible single fathers" going?
Believe it or not, and this may be good or bad I don't know, I haven't contemplated this idea very much. The reason for that is because I want it to develop into whatever the people who have sought out and joined this site want it to be. It's purpose may change over time- that's why I'm always asking for suggestions to see what the members want, and to see what I can do to make the site suitable for everyone.

What I want to do is publicize it without becoming commercialized and without it becoming another "non profit organization" that reaps government funding and tries to sell skills to deadbeat dads through social programs. I'm all about the "Do It Yourself" approach to most things.

I do hope the site continues to grow, and that the members here both gain something from it as well as contribute something beneficial for others. A perfect world scenario would be that this site gained enough attention that it motivated people to take enough action to rid society of its biases against single fathers. I think that idea is completely attainable- but it requires that DIY approach!

With two kids with two different mothers, what do you do to "keep the peace" amongst all the parties?
My ex knows that I'm committed to doing the best I can for my son. My girlfriend has known this since we met, and I think that was part of the attraction for her- so she knows I will always maintain contact and work to keep things peaceful between my ex and I. With just a coupe of exceptions, my ex and my girlfriend have had nothing but friendly words for one another, and each time we're all in the same spot things have gone smoothly. It's a situation I've not taken for granted!

There is no awkwardness for the kids either- my ex enjoys being playful with my daughter, and my girlfriend does a really good job with my son. I have found the best way to deal with things that may come up is to pretty much lay low and not try to force anything, but try to be sensible and reasonable and act as a non biased mediator of sorts.

If you were given a magic wand to "fix" ONE thing in your life, what would it be? Why?
That's a tough one. Without giving any sort of beauty queen answer, "End World Hunger", etc. I'll just answer off the top of my head- I have to say I would cure myself of Diabetes- or at least eliminate the long lasting effects. It takes its toll and over time who knows what difficulties may come up. I feel like I am missing so much already, of my sons life, and thinking of my own life ending prematurely really digs in sometimes.

And lastly - What is it like to know the infamous Daniel Fenti?
This one isn't such a tough question, because I've spent days, months even, pondering the concept since we met!

I'm sure we've all felt humbled at one time or another- like the time I met Queen Elizabeth when I was knighted for my contributions to End World Hunger. Or the time me and Tom Cruise found that missing hiker who was lost on Mt. Everest. Or the first time I met Oprah, before becoming her spiritual guide.. it's grace and awe combined with a hefty dash of WTF?!

Nah- it is good knowing you and all the guys here.