I Love You but I Don’t Like You

Oxymoronic? Maybe. Crazy? Possibly. Sensible? Debatable. A path to destruction? Very likely.

Work with me on this.

This phrase as well as many other similar phrases is a contradiction in terms when we go to the root cause of the definitions. If I try to understand this statement logically my brain explodes. In computer science we call this an infinite loop which ultimately crashes the computer. BAM! There it goes. So what then on how to re-program my brain to logically understand the statement? That is not possible. What is possible is to understand root cause and then to extrapolate scenarios. These scenarios are what scare me.

Boy meets girl, girl likes boy, and they fall in love (for whatever that is) and get married and live happily ever after. No? Right, because at some point girl says, “ooh, I really don’t like your butt right now!” Boy says, “I agree, I don’t like you either.” They go to bed feeling some dislike for one another. However, the boy is usually going to try and perform make up sex (because we like sex) but the girl won’t have this because her emotions are not there (feeling dislike). The couple wakes up still feeling dislike. This dislike is like a virus. If it isn’t squashed it will harbor in the crevices of our feelings and take root like cancer. The boy and girl haven’t resolved the dislike. Ultimately bitterness sets in. Now what?

The dislike has turned to bitterness, love has not been able to grow, and the couple now faces the daily tasks of trying to figure out how to undo the bitterness that has set in. This opens up the long road of therapy in some form or another; usually unsuccessfully. It unlocks the door to such more sinister things as infidelity, anger, and hatred. And how does one truly rationalize love and hate in the same sentence? You don’t. They are at odds. Like good and evil. Like yin and yang. Like Elvis and Costello? I am just kidding on this last one.

But what I am not kidding about is the destructive pattern the potential “dislike” created. An innocent admission of hurt or disagreed feelings and it escalates into something serious. Relationship problem #1 identified.

We gotta fix this crap!

Well, the fix is in. It isn’t rocket science and we all admit to it and we all say it – forgiveness; the lifeline of civilization. We can stop all wars with forgiveness. We can repair broken relationships with family and friends. We can make the world sing in perfect harmony! We can overcome – anything. We could live without pressures of disapproval knowing that our sins, either conscious or otherwise, would be forgiven. As I write this column I am reminded of the forgiveness from God. It is fascinating when you think about how to forgive.

This is not an easy task. It is much easier to exclaim “I love you but I don’t like you.” We all know that the two adjectives cannot coexist over a long period of time. Therefore, many of us have figured out that over time we do learn how to forgive. Forgiveness comes by choice. However, it can only come after wounds are healed although scars may remain. But we tend to feel better when we sincerely forgive. It ain’t easy but it is vital in this thing called life.

Go well and with love my good peeps.

Family; Familia; Famille; Familie; Familj…

I am back from spending a wonderful weekend with family during our biannual reunion. People travel from near and far to commune, discuss, fellowship, and bask in the aura of family love. Family bonds intricately bind our family love together in a beautiful weaving way. We toss away any feelings of bitterness, sadness, or hostility for a moment to gather strength through togetherness. And it is a wonderful thing. But what really is this family bond that we feel? Is it merely a feeling or is it something more that interconnects us? And does a family start with two?

thekids2

Missing from this reunion was my complete family – the inclusion of my children’s mother. Through the challenges of divorce my family makeup has changed and it is noticeable during these family functions. However, with the support of the entire extended family me and my kids moments are no less special; different and unique but special nonetheless.

My family bond is created through the desire to belong. Many of us may believe our common blood line might have a special magnetic draw for each of our family members, although, there is no evidence that a purely physical connection draws us any closer to one another. It is our desire to be part of something special that unites us. Family gives us special moments and memories building on top of one another creating lasting memories within the recesses of our minds.

We can connect with friends that can become family. We have family members we do not have anything in common yet we desire to connect. We marry and start a new family hoping the bonds of family grow stronger than the temptations to break us apart. And we constantly search to find that special bond that moves us forward. Connecting with family is an awesome gift.

Divorce changes everything. The new family you created changes. Dynamics within the extended family change. Relationships are different. It is a big adjustment especially when you have had a close relationship with the extended family. Divorce also requires us to change our definition of family. My little family unit has become a splintered family – torn apart. But the bond and love we feel from the larger extended family comforts us and continue to bind me and my kids. Thus, it is crucial to surround ourselves with loving family during challenging times such as these.

I appreciate the experience my children will gain. I love how their lives are touched by relatives, both young and old, and I see how important it is for them to feel connected beyond one side of their two parents. They will have a unique experience for their lives as they develop and nurture the bonds of family. My rich family history shows my kids there is much more to gain from a splintered family beginning. And it is up to me and their mother to help balance these experiences so as to not neglect one family side versus the other. There is nothing more valuable than being accepted and belonging to a tribe – and that tribe is what we call family, regardless of how it is created.

Thankful Tuesday

diversity

On occasion I like to acknowledge that I am thankful; therefore, here is my list of things for which I am thankful…

Thankful for my beautiful kids – God could not have given me finer gifts,

Thankful for life and it’s abundance – even though in the midst of storms my life is full of abundance,

Thankful for family and friends – without others surrounding us through our turmoil we would never make it alone,

Thankful for the beauty of this world – when I look out the window and take it all in I feel Peace beyond all understanding.

What are you thankful for?

Did I Get Married for the Wrong Reasons?

When I was a boy discovering my sexual appetite all I did every day was to stare at every female booty on this planet. You know, hormones kicked in. And it wasn’t so much I wanted to have sex with any booty that jiggled but I had a deeper, more complex plan. I was beginning to look for the perfect woman, companion, and confidant that I could not only share my inner most secrets but someone who would not judge me for my weirdness – someone who, frankly…could make me some beautiful babies to carry on my legacy.

sex appeal

Yup, that was it. A nicely hourglass-shaped, physically appealing specimen that would do the work of housing, ahem, I mean, carrying my unborn children; a woman that would become the incubator for my chicks. A conduit in which my babies would come out and look at me and say, “Hey Daddy Dan, I’m here to carry on your good name!” Thus, it wasn’t sex alone that drove me to marriage but the desire to carry on a legacy through offspring. Every man has this desire to see his “shorty” carry on the family name even if from afar. Little did I know my incubator would want something more? I was bamboozled.

I wasn’t really bamboozled. I was in love. Yes, some might consider my view of my potential wife shallow and short-sighted. But I did want children. Women have a tendency to choose a mate, usually a father, based on some physical attributes. It has been proven when women search they desire a man that is six-foot two, built like Adonis, and can beat somebody down when provoked. This is not merely for the woman’s own viewing pleasure and sexual appetite, but it suggests when they have kids the kids will have the traits of the father. The man would be strong yet sensitive, sensual and trusting, yet tough and resilient. Truth be told, men view future baby-mama’s in somewhat similar fashion. Does she have nice child-bearing hips? Is she built proportionately? Or does she have some other physical attribute important to the man that ultimately will determine an important element about that child?

As we venture through this subconscious path of desires, reality usually steps in and brings us back down to Earth. We are generally happy about our babies once they’re born. We care less and less as our babies mature and we pray they are healthy and capable. And we also find some deeper connection and love for the woman that produced the baby for us and she is no longer just the vessel that contained this life form until its birth.  We men do understand the importance of the role.

Thus, it isn’t all about marrying the type of woman that is going to provide you with kids that you subconsciously desire but also a woman in whom can be a good parent. Men desire someone that is a partner and can assist in the duties of child rearing. You want someone that is capable of raising and nurturing a small human being to be the best person they can be.

Concluding, I didn’t marry for the wrong reason, but it was one of many reasons; although, it is a big reason and should not go unnoticed. However, through maturity, that reason – how good of a child can my future spouse and mother of my kids provide me – is less and less important. More important is the love I have for my kids even in the midst of a marriage gone bad. For they are still the legacy afforded to me from a Higher calling. And I am pleased.

Chronicles of a Divorced Dad: Co-parenting is Difficult at Best

I had to drop my son off to his mom’s apartment after tutoring. He was not feeling well so I had to get there a little early because of his illness. I gathered up his belongings and we headed to the car. As we got to his mom’s place and we were about to get out of the car he had a tear in his eye. I asked him “what’s wrong?” He explained he was sad because he wasn’t feeling well. I assured him it was okay and not to worry about stuff you can’t control. I gave him a big hug and he headed down the hall towards the elevator.

As I turned around and started to leave – I was overcome with a familiar feeling, that same feeling I get on a weekly basis, that feeling of sadness. I was reminded of my situation and what it means to be a divorced father of two. A divorced dad. Not fun.

This feeling is not anything you want to deal with but you deal with it. It is re-living a painful death on a weekly basis. Many a man has to deal with this feeling and most people don’t understand. You’re a man. You’re supposed to be strong. You deal with it, damnnit! You must prevail over your emotions.

You are overcome with the feeling. That feeling that says I wanna be there for my boy because he’s not well, or with my daughter just so I can be there when she wakes up, or knowing that she sleeps with a picture of me by her side. Those simple things we don’t much think about or we take for granted the love our kids have for each parent. And we deal with the difficult feelings these acts bring. Co-parenting and raising kids separately is difficult at best.

Not an easy task by any means even if you have the support of loved ones.

We have painful reminders we encounter as we go through life’s challenges and the effects they have on us. We have difficult emotions to overcome especially when you are handicapped in dealing with them – unspoken depression, machoism, or just being a man.

But somehow we do overcome the emotions. Us divorced dads. Us single dads – although, we don’t use this terminology much, we leave that for the women. Men like me continue to do what we have to do, pay the support we are ordered to pay, and try to be in the lives of our kids because that’s what we do. It is what we were born to do. And many of us men accept this challenge.

We do this week after week even in spite of the feelings we experience. Talking to no one about it. We all experience that familiar feeling, that slowly painful death as we are separated from our growing kids. However, at the end of the day, we are thankful of being with our kids if only for that moment. And we find the strength to go forward just to experience the euphoria and the letdown all in the same breadth. It is for the love of our kids.

Daddy Dan

Family and the Single Dad: Why I can’t wait till summer vacation!

When did public schools around the country start giving standardized tests for 3rd and 4th grade? At what point did homework seem to consume so much of a parent’s time? Who does Algebra at the age of 10? Did I miss the memo for these life changes? Apparently I did. Having kids at my age has made me reflect on how involved my parents were with my school work when I was the same age as my own kids. I am glad that I have half a brain to figure out the correct answers. Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader? Uh, well, probably not so much.

I have always said if I had my kids when I was in my twenties I would have had more energy and time; however, I have found myself with more wisdom and money by having kids in my forties. It’s an interesting exchange of priorities – time and energy versus money and wisdom. Now I have to add education into the mix. I might have had a fresher outlook for schooling in my twenties – thus able to focus better, help my children with their school work, and understand the problems presented. My current attributes are patience, empathy, and compassion. Life is always filled with irony and decisions, and homework in my household has not escaped this dilemma.

I am not in the same household as my children’s mother making it more challenging to assist in the duties of homework. This shared responsibility is a bit more taxing today versus what I remember as I grew up. With the divorce rates pushing nearly 60% I wonder how many of us parents struggle to deal with this changing landscape of education. I’m happy we did not go down the road of homeschooling because I can only imagine the challenges that present themselves as a person goes through a divorce. It seems an impossible task. Time commitments and dedication to my child’s education is exacerbated because of the separation but it is necessary.

My own parents were fairly bright individuals but I honestly don’t recall sitting and going over my homework assignments with them. I will have to ask them. I do remember they were very busy and there was very little time to assist me and my many siblings with much of anything – coming from a big family will do this. I suppose a smaller family unit might have a different dynamic when it comes to educating the youth; but I have a small family and I still struggle with it. There is a lot of homework each week, my kids hate doing homework, I hate doing homework, and it is more complex. Algebra is being introduced in some elementary schools, Common Core math has been introduced, and ISAT scores are ultra-competitive. The educational environment today is not for the weak-of-mind.

I feel bad for those young single parents that do not have the academic background to assist their children. Unfortunately, these children will find themselves behind the eight-ball as they grow. And it isn’t keeping up with kids during these growing periods. My own struggles are evident when I assist my kids and I have to hide it best I can. My kids need to believe that I can answer any question. This helps with their confidence. Occasionally I have to punt the question to God and tell them to wait for that answer. (“Daddy, when does infinity end?” “Daddy, how was God born?”) For the most part, I am able to plow through the difficult school subjects and provide them with the appropriate answers. I do fear my involvement will diminish as they progress in grades. At some point I will have to ask myself “am I smarter than a 5th grader?” Sigh, I already know that answer.

Daddy Dan