Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Life as a single father . . .

With 2013, a new era in my life dawned.  On Jan 1, I officially became a single father when my youngest son moved in with me.  Ever since his mother and I separated five years before, I have lived alone while he and his brothers remained in the family home.  In the intervening years, his two older brothers grew up and moved on with their lives so our youngest was left alone with his mom. 
During our divorce proceedings, he made it very clear to us that as soon as I was situated in a new home in town, he intended to leave the farm and move in with me.  Under Canadian law, a minor over 12 years old has a significant say in their custody and by the time they are in their mid-teens, they pretty much call the shots.   His mother was mightily unhappy with this and did her best to alter the course of his decision however, to no avail.  I think she still has the misguided belief that he will change his mind.  Unfortunately, her awkward attempt at changing the situation culminated with her kicking him out of her house.  It was a sad moment in our family history, far sadder than our split and one which might have a lasting detrimental effect (for her).  Since that time, he has limited his contact with her to one “coffee date” per week.
To say that having a teenager live with me has changed my life is somewhat of an understatement.  After living alone for five years, suddenly I have parental responsibilities again beyond merely writing child support cheques.  I have to think of meals in advance.  I have to think of laundry other than my own.  I have to go around the house turning off lights in empty rooms.  I have to buy foods that I don’t generally buy for myself.  I have to pick up soda cans and chip bags all over the place (or be a nag to have them tidied up).  I have to try to remember the names of the buddies he brings to the house and I worry when he’s not home when I get home.
Yes, my life has changed and even though I have to make adjustments, I am thoroughly enjoying having him live with me.   I love that I can share in his life.  His brothers were around this age when their mother and I split so I missed the daily aspects of their lives as they progressed from teenagers into young men.
This has had an effect on Bill too.  No longer can we spontaneously decide to go to dinner or jump in the car and head to the USA for a shopping trip.  I find we’re spending an inordinate amount of time at my house, whereas we tried to balance our time between our two homes prior to this.   But Bill is such a loving and generous person and having been a single parent himself, understands these dynamics and is highly supportive.   The great side of this is that Bill and my youngest get along like “a house on fire”.  I know they enjoy each other’s company and that is wonderful.  
This past Sunday, I dropped my son off at the ferry terminal with 40+ of his fellow students and chaperones as they embarked on a spring break visit to Cuba with his high school band.  He’s having the experience of a life time and I’m so happy that he’s having this opportunity.  I couldn’t help but notice that he labelled his luggage with the address of my our new house.  I think he’s here to stay.
We’ve lived together for less than three months and he’s only been gone for three days but I missed having him around almost immediately.  I guess that’s life as a single father . . .


  1. I admire you for beciming a single parent..But the word is parent. When I was a teen-ager my mother made sure that I got some life skills by seeing to it that I learned how to do the laundry, cook and even sew a button on a shirt. In addition there were other rules which I had to follow. Love, enjoy but be sure to parent.. Oh and one more thing. (and all of this advice may be preaching to the choir) when he goes to a party at a friends home call and make sure that there will be parental supervision at the party. That said I have never been a parent but I did teach school for 38 years and I picked up some things. I envy you and wish you the best.

  2. Gosh! You're experience is word-for-word nearly identical to mine. My son (now 16) has lived with me full-time for nearly a year since he and my ex-wife has a blow-out fight. Things have calmed down now between them so he spends about one week a month at her house.

    His living here greatly affects my ability to come and go as I please and to have "friends" over but on the positive side, our relationship is warmer than ever. But he is still ... well... a sixteen year old boy. Dirty socks and underwear strewn about, wet towels on the bathroom floor and a constant pressure to have less healthy food around the house (burgers, pizza... although home-made)

    But I know that I am very lucky to have this time with him. All too soon, he will be living on his own, making his own way in the world.

  3. This is freaking amazing! SOOOOOO GREAT!!! I had two teenagers over the years (both "fosters"), and yeah, it sure changes your dynamics! I think you are the luckiest guy alive (along with Buddy Bear!).

    Peace <3

  4. You were his father, you are his father and you will always be his father.

    I like your appreciation of the unique time and place that you have together right now. Your other sons have trained you for this, yet, I imagine that this experience will be as unique as your youngest son.

  5. Congratulations and best of good luck in your parenting.

  6. You are so right about everything. When my ex and I first split, all the kids stayed with her at first. Finally, after about 2 months, my middle son asked to move in with me. He was 17 at the time. My life suddenly became relevant again. I knew I missed them all, but to have him here with me was a real life saver for me.
    Of course, I did have to correct him when he claimed that we were gonna be 'like roommates'...after all, I was still his father.

    That experience and others since have allowed me to see him grow in the last 3 years into a caring, productive man. I am so proud, and so happy that he chose to live with me. I know we are both better for it.

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