The BlogFather – Paranoia of a Non-Single Dad
I’m gonna start off with a bit of a disclaimer here:- I have no ill feelings towards single parents, no aspersions or prejudices towards them. I’m a product of a broken family and know all too well how hard it is for a single parent to raise their child(ren). There are plenty of single parents out there that are capable of doing a far better job than those with dual parents. What is the correct term for a complete set or parental units anyway?
I dread going out with the kids on my lonesome. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that I’m around less due to work and they think they can get away with murder or if they know that my buttons are easily pushed and they enjoy bashing away like I button-bash in beat ’em up games (combos…what are they?). I show my embarrassment more visibly than the stars of David the Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany. I hate making a scene in public – I’m a fairly private person in that respect.
So, when days like today occur, I feel incredibly paranoid of what others think. Kids make noise. Kids misbehave. But when it’s your kids and everyone stops to gawk at them and you it’s an unbearable feeling. Part of you wants to shout, “What the fuck are you looking at?!” or some other aggressive query which just adds to the assumed perception of being a bad parent.
Assumed perception, which isn’t a term but I’m making it one, is something I have battled with for a very long time. What does it mean? Well, my brain is wired in such a way, like many folks who suffer from anxiety and depression and the like, that I assume how people perceive me based on my own perception of myself. So, in the case of being perceived as a bad parent, taking the notion of being a failure in all walks of my life and extending that to my abilities as a parent, I assume people are thinking these things because of how my mind makes me feel.
In the grand scheme of things, I know deep down I’m not a bad parent. I could be better but who couldn’t? It’s not an easy job and it doesn’t stay the same – as they grow older newer and more complex situations arise which continually challenge you mentally, physically, morally, existentially and other words that probably end in ‘ly’ but my brain is starting to turn to mush. There isn’t a parent out there that couldn’t be better in some area.
But, when my kids play me up I immediately want to curl up into a ball. I immediately think [READ: assume] what passersby are thinking. Things like, “What a useless man that is”, “He needs to teach them some discipline” or the niggling thoughts that they think I’m a single dad or that I’m not their biological father. I think I mentioned it in a post before that, when I was growing up, it was uncommon in my hometown for parents to be divorced. For years I was the only one that I knew of and I was bullied for it. Nowadays it seems that it’s the other way around and kids probably get tormented because they have BOTH parental units together. Again, it shouldn’t matter because a) if I am a single dad, the fact I’m staying involved should say something positive, b) if I’m not their biological father then again, see the previous point and c) I know I’m neither so why should it bother me?
For years I thought my way of thinking was ‘normal’. That the way I see things is how the rest of the world does. I was often told I was wise before my years so I figured if I thought like an adult at a young age that those types of thoughts were standard adult musings. Nowadays, I don’t really know if I’m the ‘normal’ one or not because there is some pretty crazy shit going on. I have some old school values inherent in me that don’t seem to translate well in the modern day and these niggling thoughts bother me more than they should because the values that I hold true are from a generation and conditioning that would take great offence.
Being a single parent doesn’t make a man or a woman any lesser than non-single parents. To me, there is no stigma attached to single parents so why should I fret over people thinking I’m one if I’m not and it’s none of their business anyway? Because I just hate the thought that I am being judged.
So what happened today that brought this all back to the surface? Here goes…
My wife works around my shifts so seeing as today is ,my one day off this week, she did a shift in work while I could be home and look after Georgia and get the terrible twosome when school finishes. I spent the day making Seren & Talia’s packed lunches, driving my wife to work then the pair to school, getting a delivery from a neighbour as it arrived while I was doing the school run, tidying the house (or trying to), dealing with a grumpy three year old, fixing Seren & Talia’s bedroom door as Georgia had somehow managed to take it off its hinges, washing up, trying to fix our tumble dryer and other mindless odd-jobs before it was time to get them from school.
As soon as we leave the school, Talia isn’t listening to me and is running off and screeching despite my warnings. I needed to go shopping to get stuff for dinner and her shenanigans continue. Georgia was sat in one of the small Asda trolleys as I pushed it round with the other two following on foot. I left the trolley with the eldest two as I went to grab some peppers when I hear a thud and then a shrill cry that I knew immediately. I was only a couple of feet away when I quickly turned to see Georgia picking herself up off the ground in tears. She had decided to stand up in the trolley and Talia pushed it causing her to fall off. Luckily she landed on her belly and only bumped the side of her face – I immediately panicked as I thought she had landed head first as she was complaining her head hurt.
The store wasn’t too busy but there was an older woman that wasn’t far off that was staring and seemed to linger as if she was examining my reaction and way I handled the situation like a driving test examiner. I tried not to look but I could just see her in the corner of my eye as I picked Georgia up, kissed her on the side of the head and carried her up the aisle to get the peppers while the other two stood by the trolley. I take less than a minute and the woman is still there when I put the peppers in the trolley and carry on round the store as I carry Georgia as Seren pushes the trolley and Talia walks round with her head down crying because I’d told her off for her dangerous behaviour.
I tell Talia to apologise to her sister and give her a kiss and a cwtch (cuddle) as other shoppers give me dirty looks as if I’ve just told them I’m not their dad or that they were mistakes. I felt like I was being reasonable – I wasn’t shouting or getting all up in their faces.
It could be construed that it’s all in my head and, while some of it may be, I don’t think so. I think people nowadays are far too quick to judge and make presumptions based on appearances. I often say to my wife that I don’t dress like a dad. I don’t know how dads dress to be fair but the way I dress doesn’t seem ‘it’. I wear jeans and hoodies, baggy T-shirts and every now and again a backwards cap. Do dads wear sweaters or turtle necks? Corduroys or proper trousers? Casual shoes or trainers? I definitely don’t dress like dads did when I was a kid. My beard is often messy and unkempt and a splash of BO or eau de shit and I could be a homeless man rather than some thirty-something father of three with a wife and a mortgage.
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