Knowing you’ll never live with your kids again is heartbreaking.
This article is not an attempt to minimise that pain or put a rose-tinted view on it.
It is just the truth, from my experience having gone through it.
This article is specifically for men who are separating but get to see their kids, however often.
1. Your time together is of higher quality.
You really value your time with them.
Even if it’s just doing normal stuff like shopping or hanging out watching TV.
“Familiarity breeds contempt” does not apply to you.
Yes, there’ll be times when you’re exhausted, stressed out or distracted.
I’m not saying it’s all rainbows.
But you always know that your time together is special.
To be honest, the first few months of my daddy-daughter time were often stressful for me.
But in hindsight, that’s because it was still raw, and I wasn’t in a great place myself.
And that’s ok.
You may still be reeling from the separation, and angry or resentful about it.
But the dust will settle.
And then, the joy you get from being with your little one is indescribable.
I can’t speak for men who still live with their families, of course.
But I do know that the ‘everyday’ existence can become mundane very quickly.
“You don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone”, is true.
But the thing to remember is that it’s not gone.
It’s just changed.
And you just get to appreciate it so much more.
It’s natural to feel the need to try to make every interaction special.
Trips, treats and adventures.
That’s great, but from my personal experience of my parents divorcing when I was 12, I can also see the value in just having a ‘normal’ day.
I didn’t see my dad very often, so every visit was an event. And I really appreciate the effort he put in.
But sometimes all kids really want is just to spend time with you.
So, although I do spoil my daughter a little too much, perhaps, I also make a point of just spending time together and enjoying each others’ company.
Again, this depends on how often you see them.
If it’s infrequent then fair play, make it special and spoil them rotten if you feel like it.
But it’s still the time together that matters more than the grand gestures.
2. Your role in their life becomes clearer.
In a coupled parenting relationship, especially these days, the roles and responsibilities can become blurred.
Your masculine identity – that edge that your partner was attracted to – can get blunted, in the drudge of nappies, obligations and endless to-do lists.
You lose your spark.
When you’re a single man again, it comes back.
It’s not automatic, it might take reflection and work, and a shift in your identity.
But you realise that what your kids get from being with you, compliments and balances their experience with their mother.
Kids need their fathers. And you fill an important role that she can’t do.
I want to be a good influence on my daughter.
And I’m aware that everything I say and do is shaping her little brain, and how she sees the world.
I find myself teaching her all the time. Often I just notice myself doing it.
Everything is a learning opportunity: new words, concepts, and skills.
But also in the way I react, how I communicate and just how I’m being.
I don’t always get it right!
But it makes me think about how I’m showing up as a parent, and as a man.
3. Your space is your own.
If you wanted the quintessential bachelor pad, complete with red Chesterfield, lounge chair, drum kit, art that you can stare at for hours, and black and copper highlights everywhere, then you can.
Yes, I’ve just described my living room. You get the point though.
You can make your space a reflection of yourself.
When I bought a flat previously owned by an old lady who hadn’t decorated in twenty years, my intentions were to turn this humble appartment into:
“Somewhere that I smile every time I walk into, and women want to come back to”.
Creating this space felt like a metaphor for creating my new identity.
Putting it together, piece by piece, was therapy in itself.
Every little detail.
When you’re alone, in your oasis of calm, you have space to process and contemplate, without distraction.
Have your little routines and rituals.
And not jump to other people’s needs or demands.
Steak every night?
4. You have time to pursue what’s important to you.
When you’re not working or being a parent, you now have time to spend time on what else you care about.
You can work on your business, get in great shape, build new skills or improve existing ones
You get to obsess again, in the way only men can understand, about mastery, or creating something meaningful.
For me right now, that means focusing my time, energy and attention on writing and making videos.
Because sharing my experiences and insights, like I’m doing now, brings me meaning.
It feels like what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.
Whatever it is for you, you’ll find it by pursuing whatever gives you ‘honest dopamine’.
The thing you can spend all night on and not get tired.
A game worth pursuing.
You can have your ‘ideal day’ (at least sometimes).
On those precious free days, you can do whatever you like.
Wake up early, go for a walk and listen to a podcast, spend hours in deep work without distraction, work out, get a sauna, socialise, read, and reflect.
And go to bed feeling grateful that you’re alive and good about yourself.
Obviously, this list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning one of the most obvious perks of being a single guy with your own space.
You are free.
And probably a little more selfish, in a good way.
Less inclined to compromise for an easy life.
The beautiful irony, is that this detachment and non-neediness actually makes you more attractive to women.
You are about to have the time of your life.
It took me a while, and a mental health crisis, to get over the pain of my separation.
And saying goodbye to my daughter still hurts every time.
But overall, I’d say my life is better now.
But if the circumstances are out of your control, then focus on what you can control.
How you see your life, and who you’re going to be.
Life is messy and complicated. But there is light on the other side, my friend.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
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