I’ve been under a tremendous amount of pressure this year. I was getting my footing as a single Dad when COVID hit and our lives were once again turned upside down. I’m honestly doing the best I can but I was recently reminded that I need to do better.
This story involves Emmett in particular but I’m sure it applies to Elliott and Gavin to some extent as well.
Emmett is the absolute sweetest kid. He’s going through a rough time but he’s always worried about me. Ever since Lizze moved out, he’s constantly asking me if I’m okay. Becoming a single parent is not an easy adjustment and while I do my best to manage the emotions and stress, it doesn’t always go so well.
I’ve been stressed out trying to keep my kids safe and COVID free. Remote learning is the bane of my existence, and as COVID worsens, work has become far less profitable, creating financial worries. I was finally doing really well as we entered 2020 and by summer, things had gone down hill, as it has for soamy people, due to the state of the world.
I’m worried about paying the bills, buying groceries, and making sure we have what we need to survive this fucking nightmare known as 2020.
Emmett is having a difficult time with remote learning and that’s quite frustrating for him and me. I know he can do it, he’s just so overwhelmed that he’s sorta given up. I’ve not found a way to help him get through this and all I need him to do is the work he’s assigned.
None of these things are excuses for my failures but rather context. I also know that many will tell me to stop being so hard on myself because I’m doing an awesome job. I really appreciate the that but we all know how hard we are on ourselves and I’m no exception.
After a particularly frustrating morning, I was struggling with work. I was upset because there are jobs that I’ve invoiced but can’t seem to get paid. It happens more often than you’d think and it sucks. Some of them I’m getting stiffed on and others seem to just take forever. I deal with people all over the globe and timezones and language barriers can be a problem.
In the middle of all that, Lizze and I are finalizing our divorce which just adds to the stress. We’re on really good terms and there’s absolutely no fighting but it’s still a emotional roller-coaster for me.
With all that said, this is where I fucked up.
On this particular day, my seemingly endless supply of patience was so far depleted, I was not pleasant to be around. I was overwhelmed and not hiding it well. I was shorter with the kids than I would be otherwise and it didn’t go unnoticed.
As kids tend to do, they find ways to blame themselves for whatever is happening and Emmett did just that.
I was in my room, frustrated with work and finances. Several times that day I had to remind Emmett to keep working on his schoolwork and it was obvious I was frustrated with having to do that over and over again. A bit later on that day, Emmett slides this note under my door.
Reading this absolutely broke me. In that moment, everything that had been crushing me seemed to disappear because my only focus was on making sure Emmett was okay. I opened the door and pulled him in for a big hug. I apologized to him for making him feel like that. I explained that yes, I was really stressed out but it was about grown-up issues and had nothing to do with him or his brothers.
I sat him down and talked to him for a little while about how grown-up stress isn’t his fault and that it’s something I need to better manage. I told him that yes, he can drive me crazy but that what kids do. I know I drove my parents crazy and he was simply granting their wish that someday I would know what it’s like to be a parent driven crazy but their children. ☺
This was one of those brutal parenting mistakes that I wish I could avoid. The truth is, all I can do is apologize for it, learn from it, and do better going forward.
Sharing this particular parenting fuck up doesn’t make me feel great or look good and I get that. The reason I share it is to help you learn from my mistakes. We’re not perfect and we’re never going to be but we’re all more than the sum of our parts. That means that we are not defined as parents by the individual mistakes we make but rather the whole of our efforts.