Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Turducken Day!

Looks good, huh? For any of you guys and gals who watched John Madden broadcasting the Thanksgiving football games, you know what a turducken is. If you don't, boy are you in for a treat.
Turducken is a holiday masterpiece that includes a semi-boneless turkey stuffed with a deboned chicken that's stuffed with a deboned duck breast. Triple-bird-alicious. The best Turducken you'll find are those from Louisiana-based Cajun Grocer. They offer five different 15-lbs Turduckens with either cornbread stuffing, seafood kambalaya, cornbread/rice dressing, creole sausage, or plain (veggies only). They also offer 4-lbs Turducken Rolls with either cornbread or pork sausage. It's the Thanksgiving Ménage à trois of meals.
Miss M and I are going to see my folks this holiday and there's NO CHANCE Mama Big City would make one of these. We'll have fun though hanging with the whole fam, especially my two nephews and my niece, who LOVE Miss M and only live 30 minutes from my parents. They even invited us over for a sleep over! Fun!
A log of the single parent posts I've read talk about starting your own new holiday traditions post divorce. Turducken is now my new tradition. The Ex thought was disgusting (maybe, but isn't Thanksgiving all about gratitude through over indulgence??? Spoken like a true man, I know) The second weekend after Thanksgiving I won't have Miss M, so all my friends are coming over for the first annual Turducken Holiday Feast. Kind of like UFC # whatever, but with a little less blood :)
What fun new Thanksgiving ideas have you come up with as single parents? Would love to hear them!
I'll try to post while we're gone, but Mama and Papa Big City have a computer from 1972. Might be tough. If you don't hear from me, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Hornet's Nest...and an Apology

Boy did I stir things up yesterday. My comments both here and on on what I felt may be a red flag in relationships for me got me in all kinds of trouble. I truly meant no offense to anyone and was just trying to give my point of view as well as that of other men I've spoken with about this subject. Still, after rereading my posts, I can see how things could be taken out of context or misinterpreted. For that, I truly apologize.

In 1984 Robert McCloskey, the author and illustrator of childrens' books including "Make Way for Ducklings", felt he had been misunderstood in some remarks he made about the Vietnam War. His response was as follows:

"I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant".

That my friends is how I feel today. Don't get me wrong...I love it when people disagree with me here or give me a point of view I haven't thought of. If I didn't get that, I'd never grow or learn new things. That said, I thought I'd attempt to better explain what I meant by a woman (or man) who may be in their late 30's or early 40's, never married, with no kids is a Red Flag does and does not mean to me. Here goes:

What I Did NOT Mean by Yesterday's Comments:
  1. That women (or men) that fit this category have nothing to offer and should be considered broken and steered clear of. Everyone has something to offer. What isn't a fit for one person may be a perfect fit for another;
  2. That I have no issues and am perfect. SO NOT TRUE. We all have them. How we deal with them makes all the difference;
  3. That I would never date a single mother. OH MY GOD NO!!! Single mom's who are good parents (subjective but we all know the basic difference) have it all going on. They get the kid thing, they've experienced life, and they are super women in how they run their lives;
  4. That long term relationships that didn't result in marriage don't count as significant relationships, even when that relationship has resulted in a child. Again, that would be silly. While most people who have kids have been married at some point, not all have. Those relationships count just the same;
  5. That women who don't have kids and fit this category should have no right to consider donors or adopting to experience the magic of parenthood. Couldn't disagree with this more. As a matter of fact, my plan if I had hit 40, was single, and had no kids was to try and adopt. Not ever having been married doesn't mean I'm not qualified to be a good father. Same with prospective single mommies; and
  6. That women or men who have been married and are divorced are better than the people who've chosen not to make the commitment for the wrong reason. NO WAY. Good for those people who didn't feel the pressure to commit when it didn't feel right. In hindsight (while I am grateful to my Ex for my daughter and don't regret that AT ALL), I should have had the courage to say "I just don't think this is right." That is a brave decision that should be respected.
  7. That Hot Girl, having fit into this category, is more "broken" than my Ex just because my Ex has been married and is a mother. NO F' ING WAY!!! Enough said there.

What I DID Mean by My Comment:

  1. That a person (man or woman) who has never been married nor has had a significant long term relationship in their lives by this age most likely has never made it a priority. FOR ME, that is a concern because I consider past behavior to be a decent predictor of future behavior. If someone hasn't ever committed to a person by this age (marriage or long term relationship), why would I expect them see me as any different? ;
  2. I would (and am dating someone in this category). That doesn't mean the category itself doesn't give me pause. The key is that Hot Girl and I talk about it A LOT. We also talk about my issues, of which there are a ton.
  3. That if a woman has put career so far out in front that family wasn't her priority by this age, she may be great for someone, but that's not what I want. Doesn't mean I think those people who do this are bad. I have several friends, especially in New York, who are like this. MY first priority over everything is family however, and I've thus want a partner who feels the same way.

What I Hadn't Thought About But Was Pointed Out To Me Are Exeptions (and with Which I Agree):

  1. Some people may have stayed in a relationship for a long time, chosen not to get married, tried to have kids but couldn't, and then broke up. What was left is a person in their 30's or 40's never married with no kids.
  2. A woman may have had a child outside of marriage earlier in life and has put that child as a priority (as she should). Thus, her dating life has been sparse and she now finds herself at that age having never been married nor in a long term relationship.
  3. That someone who had "other priorities" earlier in life can change their view later and be WONDERFUL spouses and parents.
  4. That my experience with women in this category has shaped my opinion but someone else may have a completely different experience. That is valid and worth noting.
  5. That a better term for this "pause" when meeting someone who is in this category might be "yellow warning sign" meaning proceed cautiously, versus "red flag" which means stop and run the other way.

Again, hopefully this sheds more light on what I was trying to say, even if I didn't make myself clear initially. I do believe that anyone who is capable and who has the love to give has the right to experience the magic of parenthood, regardless of how that comes about or if they have a partner. And for those single, parents or otherwise, we all have something to offer. Committing or not is a choice, but better to alone than to commit when it's not right. What right for one isn't necessarily right for another. Hopefully, there's a "nut" for every "bolt" out there. :)

Have a great day everyone.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The "Off" Weekend & Hot Girl

That's pretty much what it looks like most of the time. M was with her mother this weekend, which means Friday morning until Sunday at 5 PM. As you all know, it's a good and a bad thing. The good: Having some time to myself gives me a chance to decompress, clean up without the mess starting over immediately, see some friends, choose not to go to the gym, and go on a date or two. The bad: After about 3 hours I miss my girl and I'm ready to have her back.

I'm not much of a "planner" so I usually go into these weekends with a general outline but few specific plans. I like to take my personal life as it comes. This weekend wasn't much different. Friday night I hung with few of my boys for dinner. We went to this authentic Mexican restaurant in East Harlem. My buddy Paul grew up in Mexico so he was able to bridge the language gap for us. The conversation started off pretty normal and quickly deteriorated into dating exploits. I'll spare you the details but let's just say we were the loudest table in the place and out buddy Blain, funny as he is, may need to do some work on his volume control as well as his "concepts" of a healthy relationship with women. Enough said, right? Funny, funny guy.

Saturday day was errands, cleaning, & college football. I grew up in South Carolina right near Clemson (and my sister went there). I went to Virginia Tech, so Saturdays in the fall (unless I have M) are for football...period. Lucky for me, the woman I've been seeing (code name Hot Girl because she giggles when I call her that) LOVES college football. How lucky am I, right? We lounged, used the couch, and cheered the Hokies on to a win over NC State. Perfect "off weekend" afternoon. We then went to a pretty good barbeque place downtown with friends and ate too much. Good day, right?

So with the introduction of Hot Girl, here's the scoop: we've been seeing eachother since October of last year and used to work together at a previous job. I always thought she was cute (she really is) and that she seemed nice, but I'm not one to fish off the company pier, nor is she, and I left that job right after Ex and I got married. The week I was moving out last summer, I was in a home store looking for new single dad furniture, turned around, and there she was. We talked for about 30 minutes while my friend Stu patiently occupied himself. Hot Girl and I decided to get together for lunch a few weeks later to discuss job prospects for her as she was getting laid off in a month. No romantic aspirations whatsoever.

At lunch we didn't talk about jobs at all and she seemed TOTALLY different than her reputation. At the office she had a reputation for being standoffish and a bit high strung. Then again, as an attractive single woman working in a Wall Street firm, you better have your guard up because most of the guys are sharks. At lunch though, she was funny and sweet and we really got along. I got that "thing" in my stomach, but being separated only a few weeks, just wasn't ready to go there.

We hung out platonically a few more times until mid October when I just felt the need to have that talk. You know that one: I really like you but I'm just not ready for anything and want to be up front with you. She was completely understanding. That lasted a week! The couch was calling :) Things escalated quickly and by spring we were starting to discuss long term. We also were having occasional blow ups, mostly as it related to Ex's parenting style (or lack there of) and about how to deal with Ex. In hindsight, too much too fast. Mid summer we decided to call it off, which was disappointing for me and M. They had been introduced in late March. Hot Girl was incredible with her...everything my Ex was not.

The pressure of a new divorce wore on us and eventually wore us out. After taking a few months off, we started talking again in September. We both took responsibility for our parts in the difficult times (again, something Ex was never able to do and something that's extremely important for me). The spark was still there and we decided (after some very, very long and open discussions) to start seeing eachother again. This time though, while we're committed to seeing only eachother, we're keeping the marriage discussion out of it...for now. I've yet to reintroduce her to M simply because I want to make sure it's going to stick this time. M misses her and asks about her sometimes but I explain that Hot Girl is still our friend but can't see us right now.

Here's the rub: Hot Girl is 37, no kids, never married. Red flag? Maybe. She has her trust issues and is pretty guarded. I'm not, AT ALL and like an emotionally open relationship. The more I let her in though, the less I see those issues. And we discuss this quite a bit. I trust first and wait to be disproved. She distrusts first and SLOWLY lets people in. I want more kids and she really, really wants to be married and have kids also with the right person. I just feel that I need to take my time and make sure this is right before taking that step. Great, great girl. I'm just trying to see if I can deal with her coping style in stressful situations versus mine as well as the differences in our "spiritual" sides. We're coming from different in both aspects there, which isn't necessarily bad, but the sides may not be compatible. Yet to be determined. Other than that we line up on just about everything. Those two things, though, are HUGE for me and were missing in my marriage. I don't want to get stuck in a situation again were there's no way to discuss differences and no spiritual connection. Time will tell I guess.

For now, I have two lives with a 3 foot girlfriend half the week and a 5' 7" girlfriend the other half. We see how it goes.

Happy Monday everyone! It's a short week. :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Daddies and their Little Girls

I love that picture. Yes, that is my little girl holding Daddy's hand. We still do that a lot.

There's not much I can say I wouldn't have imagined that I would do for my daughter. I've always been really child oriented and have wanted a big family for as long as I can remember. There are certain things though, that that just never crossed my mind that have become routine. Most of them are really fun and silly, and given my stature (I'm not a small man), they must be hilarious to watch. Being a Single Daddy though, most, but not all, of them occur when it's just the two of us. For everyone's benefit (yes, I can laugh at myself) I thought I'd you a glimpse of the "non-manly" things I do for my daughter's amusement.
  • We love to play Princess. Thing is, Daddy is the Princess. Miss M puts the pink jeweled crown and earrings on Daddy and shrieks with joy "Daddy, you so boootiful!!!" I can thank my parents for those gifts.
  • Daddy can recite virtually every line in the movies "Tinkerbell," and "Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses." What man can say that???
  • If it will help Miss M stay in her seat while riding a crowded NY City Bus on the way to school, Daddy will sing out loud "The Wheels on the Bus" for as long as Miss M wants. Daddy has a REALLY bad singing voice and sings for no one.
  • Miss M has started taking ballet and tap dance and loves to practice in the living room. Of course, Daddy is required to follow along and can do a plié or get into fifth position on command. The fact that I know what those are is just scary.
  • Last night, Daddy gave a somersault show in the living room, just because it made us laugh. Thought I was going to throw up.
  • Our new favorite game: Horsie. Now, for you traditional manly men like myself, this isn't the bouncing knee game or even riding on Daddy's back like a horse (although that is a small component). Miss M has decided that Daddy is her pet horsie, to be led around the apartment and the apartment building (yes, I said building) to perform tricks and whinny on command. She LOVES this one.

I know you Daddies out there understand. What ever makes them giggle and be happy.

Any fun games that you have to share? I could always add to the arsenal.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Introductions to a Significant Other?

I love that picture. And I more than identify.

As I've told you, Ex and I continue to see the Child Therapist to lay the ground rules for good co-parenting. Each session is contentious, but so far we've both taken CT's decisions to heart and have agreed to abide by the plan. That has not been easy, let me tell you. Still, we both feel that establishing healthy patterns now is better than trial and error.

That said, one of the most contentious issues that will ever come up in co-parenting is when to introduce your child to a new significant other. It is widely thought that children, especially at a young age, can become attached quickly, so the potential for another "father or mother figure" to appear, then disappear in their lives is cause for concern.

Everything I've read points to erring on the side of conservative on this one. If you're not sure, wait. Being a rules guy, however, I decided to ask CT to lay some guidelines for Ex and me to follow. Have to admit, they are pretty hardcore. CT explained that in an ideal world, this is the way to do things if you have your child's emotional best interest at heart. It means some sacrifice and compromise on your part as well as your new partner, but in the long run, CT claims that children adjust best if the following guidelines are used:

  1. The relationship should be important with the possibility of long term; if so, 6 months of waiting is an appropriate amount of time to date before introductions;

  2. After 6 months of dating, it is then acceptable to ask the other parent to meet your new significant other before this new person is allowed to spend ANY amount of alone time with your child. Keep in mind this meeting is out of courtesy only. You don't get a say in your Ex's dating life unless your child is in harm's way;

  3. The title for these significant others should be as such: Special Friend, Boyfriend, Girlfriend, etc. There is no substitute Mother or Father;

  4. There are to be no sleep overs dates when your child is with you until the significant other has actually moved into the specific parent's apartment. (This one is aimed at us because we have 50/50 custody and have plenty of time to do sleep overs on our off time. Extreme, yes, but again, is what CT thinks is healthiest for the child);

  5. The significant other should be "available" for a committed relationship (i.e. the relationship is monogamous; significant other is not involved with someone else in any way);

  6. In regard to how the significant other treats your child, either parent may offer feedback for the two biological parents to work out any glitches in the relationship to the child's benefit;

  7. It is important to note that many biological parents are jealous of new partners in an Ex's life and particularly jealous of their involvement in their child's life. There are natural emotions to be dealt with and understood (individually and never in front of the child) but not to be catered to.
Tall order, yes? For those of you who have been doing this longer than me, I'd love to hear your feedback. Again, pretty rigid rules, but I trust CT to do the right thing by Miss M, so why not follow the expert's advice. Happy dating!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Suggestions for Co-Parenting

If you are embarking on the journey of divorce, have children, and have decided that you will Co-Parent together, let me be the first to congratulate you. As long as there is no history of abuse toward the kids, seeing both parents on a regular basis is healthy for them and in their best interest. Selfishly we'd all like to have our children 100% of the time (I know I would) but each parent most likely has positive traits that he or she can pass on to the children. Plus, any research you find will tell you each parent's relationship with their children is the primary way children learn to get along with each gender.

Now the hard part: if you have ANY residual feelings of anger, resentment, or sadness over the break up of your marriage, it is SO hard not to have that spill over into your co-parenting relationship. In the worst instance, the other parent's time with the children can be compromised or denied, support payments with held, or one parent may bad mouth the other to the children. Let me tell you, sometimes it's all I can do to just bite my lip and not say something when I feel I'm being provoked by my Ex. I'm sure she'd tell you the same. At times we're both unsuccessful in keeping things civil. We really struggle to get along. It doesn't help that neither of us are wilting flowers.

Recently, we decided to see a Child Psychologist. There were several issues regarding the other that we just couldn't come to agreement on, so we thought it best to have a "professional referee" in the room to give us strong guidance, with the emphasis on strong. A bit humbling to be put in your place, but as the therapist continues to remind us, she's only there for our daughter's best interest. Follow what she says and Miss M will be the big winner.

Since the Ex and I are still in the conflict phase (although thankfully we've never fought in front of my daughter since our separation), our therapist thought it best for her to establish some ground rules for Ex and me to follow in our co-parenting relationship. I thought I'd share them with my new friends:

  1. The past is no longer relevant to current decision making and discussions. Leave the past out. Discuss only the issue of today. (man is that one hard!)

  2. Do not insult each other in emails or in person. Vow never to insult the parent of your child. You can discuss without insults. If you have residual post marital issues to work out, save them for a safe therapy session (either joint child therapy when the child is not present, or with your individual therapist).

  3. The Spirit of Sharing the joy of parenting your child is the guide to all discussions. Therfore, any time sharing which needs to be discussed, especially Holiday time, will be discussed understanding both parents' desire to be with their child with the goal of finding ways to make this work for everyone, especially the child.

  4. Be respectful of the other parent. You child is watching and learning how he/she will be treated and who he/she will select for a mate.

  5. STAY GRATEFUL on a daily basis that you are fighting for more time with your beloved child. This is a great fight (discussion) to have!
I love that last one.

I will tell you from experience that this is SO much harder than it looks. Progress not perfection though. I've stumbled way more than I care to admit, but the best thing I can do is just dust myself off and get right back in there. Miss M is the one who will benefit the most!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Our Secret Spot

What a great weekend. Miss M and I had so much fun on our playdates, going to the Big Apple Circus, and just spending time together. I'm lucky in that while she's an independent little thing, she always comes in for the spontaneous hug and loves to sit in Daddy's lap while relaxing, reading, or watching TV. Lots and lots of cuddle time. Savor it while it's there, right?
It was raining a good part of the weekend in NYC, so we had to be creative in our play. We had a playdate Saturday morning and visited the playroom in our building (SO lucky to have one of those), but for the most part my little one just wanted Daddy and Me time. Who am I to argue, right?
As you saw in my last post, we are right in the middle of the Princess phase. She has more princess gowns than I can count (grandparents and her nannies are great for that), so she wears one of them almost at all times. Lately, she's started asking for a castle to go a long with her shiny princess shoes and gown. For those of you in NYC, you get the dilemma already but for those of you outside, I'll explain:
Cost of living here is RIDICULOUS. Having grown up in the South, I have pretty good perspective. For example, my sister and brother in law live in a 4 bed, 3 bath giant house in SC on over 1 acre for about 1/2 the cost of a studio apartment in Manhattan. True, you do get paid more in NYC, but not that much more. You need to learn to adjust to MUCH smaller spaces. So when my little one asked for a castle, my first thought was "Christmas!" and I began thinking of those play castles she could crawl around in and use as her little private playhouse. Problem is, I have very little play space left in our little apartment.
So, first I went old school. Remember the "forts" you made as a kid by putting two chairs back to back and throwing a sheet over them? Credit Daddy for pulling out an oldie but goodie from the deep folds of my every forgetful brain. It was fun for a bit, but 3 year old don't stop moving, climbing, and fidgeting so the sheet kept coming off. Our princess was starting to get upset. Now, Daddy is a fairly experience backpacker with a couple of good tents stashed away, so I thought, "Hmmmm...setting up one of those might be fun for her!" Again though, floorspace is at a premium and even my one man tent would take up most of our space, plus those things are NOT cheap, and I could see my monkey breaking a tent pole and Daddy having no one to blame but himself.
Then, EUREKA! I had forgetten that when she was 9 months old, her mother and I took her to the beach for a week and had bought one of those little pop up sun shelter tents for her...and that I had gotten custody of it! I set it up in front of the couch, put some pillows in it, her giant teddy bear, and VOILA! a castle fit for a princess! She was THRILLED and crawled in with her doggie and laid there giggling with excitement. I wanted to give her space though as it was her new little place, so I sat on the couch behind her as she watched Pooh Bear and sang to herself.
After a few minutes she called out "Daddy, you ok?" What a sweetie. "Yes baby girl, I'm ok. How are you?" "I ok Daddy. Daddy come here?" with her little face plastered against the mesh window facing me. An invitation from my best girl! "Of course baby, here comes Daddy!". Jumping out of my skin with excitement, I crawled into the tent. My Princess gave me a big hug and then said "Daddy, you're here! Here Daddy, you share pillow and blanket." My heart melted. There we laid there for the next hour watching Winnie the Pooh (my all time favorite) and cuddling. Every once in a while she's just look at me and giggle "Daddy!" and give me one of those spontaneous hugs. I am the luckiest man on the planet.
Everytime we get together I think "this has to be the best moment I've had with her," and then she tops it. I know there will be a ton more of these moments over the years, some of which I may sadly forget. This one, however, has now been documented and burned into my memory. I really think it was the happiest hour I've ever had. :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Is it weird that....?

Ok, I admit it. As a little boy I had a crush on Barbie. Look at her, she's hot right? I forget what her proportions would be in real life, but I do remember it's something completely ridiculous, meaning there's little chance she'd be able to walk upright. My kind of girl.

To my Mom's chagrin, ALL of my girlfriends, including the Ex, have resembled either Barbie or Jessica Rabbit. Not a brunette in sight. Not that there's ANYTHING unattractive about brunettes, redheads, black women, Asian women, or green women for that matter. I love women, have dated every type and find ALL kinds attractive. For some reason, however, I always end up with the skinny but curvy blond as the long term relationship. Obviously that's worked out really well for me, right? Might be some to be done work with my therapist on that one. Ya think? Help me dude...please?

Growing up, my parents did a pretty good job encouraging my sister and me to play with "gender neutral" things. We each had our toys but I don't remember ever being told "Don't play with that. That's a girl's toy." I swore as a parent that I would do the same. I'm all for girls being as tomboyish as they want or as girly as they want. I really didn't plan on having a pink apartment complete with pink toys, pink curtains, and little dresses everywhere. Miss M is as girly as they come. It's a rare day when we don't have a meltdown when Daddy dresses us in pants. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE having a little girl. Nothing better than Daddy's Little Girl and Miss M is certainly that. I can't get out of eyesight without her hunting me down and I LOVE THAT.

Miss M is napping after a great play date this morning with her little friend Jason. First nap she's taken in I don't know how long. Little guy wore her out. All boy that one (right T?) On our way home, we stopped at the toy store to pick up a replacement Cinderella that we lost last week, and some Barbie clothes. So here I am, the little one napping, putting out her new Barbie clothes so we can play with them after her nap...and feeling kind of creepy. Sort of like when I was a little boy and had to check out Barbie naked when no one was looking. Come on guys, you KNOW you did it too. How could you not? Unless of course you were into Ken, not that there's anything wrong with that :)

After Miss M wakes up, we'll commence to dress Barbie in her new sundresses, dance around the apartment wearing princess crowns, and watch some Princess movies. Most likely Miss M will put the fancy clip on earrings on me and shriek with joy "Daddy!!! You so boootiful!!!" and I'll love every minute of it. This will be my first "date" with Barbie, however, in a very, very long time, at least, the Barbie doll that is...

Little girls rock. Barbie (of all kinds) and I, however, are going to have to come to an understanding....

Friday, November 13, 2009

Good as New :)

Nothing like a couple hours with Miss M to make it all go away. Was stuck in my head most of the day but after getting some time with her it all seems trivial. We read some books, did our business on the potty (she JUST got that in the last couple weeks, so exciting!), and played marching band. LOVE that game. She grabs one of my pots and a wooden spoon, daddy gets the harmonica and a tambourine, and we march around the apartment playing to our imaginary crowd. Comes complete with a bow and an Elvis "Thankyouverymuch." Sure the neighbors love when we do that! Part of living in the big get to hear all of your neighbors' business. After that we watched part of her favorite Princess movie and then off to bed. Ten minutes of meditation to top it off and Daddy feels like a new man. Thanks everyone for all the well wishes after a tough day. Tonight is what it's all about.

Ahhhhh !!!!!

What a morning. I dropped Miss M off at school and then headed to the Child Therapist (CT) the Ex and I have been seeing for the last month. I had some concerns and wanted to get a neutral part involved to help us solve our issues. The Ex and I don't communicate well, especially when it comes to issuse concerning her (lack of) parenting. One of the primary reasons we got divorced but that doesn't mean the issues go away. Most things I can let go of, but there are two that I really needed help on.
1) The Ex's lack of time with Miss M when she is scheduled to have her. Ex leaves the house every morning at 5 am to go to the gym, goes to work and doesn't come home until 6 PM. Miss M either spends the day at school (2 1/2 hours) or with the nanny. Ex has also been checking Miss M into "Friday Night Pajama Parties" at her gym from 5 PM until 9 PM on the Fridays she has her after not seeing Miss M since Tuesday night. Miss M has lately begun telling me things like "Mommy go gym I cry" which break my heart. I tried speaking to Ex about this but to no avail and as usual, it only ended in a fight.
2) Ex has been dating a married man who still lives with his wife and has 9 month old twin girls. She says since it started last fall after we separated. One of her former friends told me that Ex was cheating on me with married guy, so admittedly that more than upsets me and gives me fuel, but I have to look forward not back. That's just another confirmation that I did the right thing by leaving her. She still denies it to this day. What upsets me is that Ex has introduced married guy to my daughter as her "boyfriend." I've addressed this with my lawyer and there's not much I can do legally. I've contemplated approaching married guy and simply stating that whatever he does with Ex is his business, but if I hear of him going near my daughter, I'm going straight to his wife and business partners (Ex was a patient of his while we were married. Complete breach of ethics for a doctor). After talking to virtually everyone sensible I can think of, I've decided to take the high road and have CT address this issue.
Nothing stresses me out more than being around that woman and having to discuss things that are potentially contentious. I've never met a person in my life who can get me more turned around in an argument than her. Keep in mind that I've worked in finance on Wall Street for 10 years and have negotiated deals with schmutzy lawyers worth more than the GDP of some small countries with no problem whatsoever. No emotion tied to those though, so I guess it makes sense that I have a hard time here. We start out talking about the issue at hand and end up six tangents to the left, I'm completely confused and frustrated, and all I can do is bite my lip to keep from screaming and running out the door. Having a referee in the room helps HUGE but it is still a very painful experience.
Bottom line, CT has made great progress on both issues and at least for now, has told Ex that she must spend time with Miss M in the mornings and on Friday nights and if she doesn't, Miss M should be with me. Ex was visibly upset by this but agreed to this and some time during the days as make up if she can't. Second, married "partners" are inappropriate to introduce to your child at any point and this should stop immediately. CT worded it much more eloquently but Ex agreed (and hopefully isn't lying which is always an issue). We'll see how that goes.
With that, my two biggest battles have been won. Ex had some complaints of her own a)that she thinks I put Miss M to be too late (8:00 pm instead of 7:30) and b) that Miss M has told her on occasion that "Daddy mean." The first one, whatever. If I get a bit of peace with Ex by putting Miss M to bed 30 minutes earlier so be it. Small price to pay. For the second, I explained that yes, sometimes Miss M does call Daddy mean:
"Daddy, want popcicles for breakfast!"
"No baby, popsicles are dessert for after lunch or dinner. Not for breakfast"
After throwing herself on the floor: "Daddy mean!!!"
And numerous other like scenarios. Those of you with kids older than 2 can relate I'm sure. CT explained that this unanimous among kids that age once they learn the word "mean" and also asked me if Miss M has said before that "Mommy mean" which she has. Regardless, it becomes tit for tat there but at least the issues that are really important for my daughter's well being have been addressed by a highly reputable child psychologist. Ex has yet to agree to leave Miss M with me on occasions when she will not be with Miss M but we're working toward it. Somehow she fails to see how that's in Miss M's best interest. Keep in mind that we live in Manhattan and are only 20 blocks apart (1 mile). It's a 3 minute cab ride.
When we were married I felt like I had two toddlers (although the true toddler was much more pleasant). Now I have two part time toddlers...
Going to need a lot of meditation tonight. Another round starting Tuesday morning.
Looking forward, Miss M and I have a fun weekend planned! Playdate with our friend Jason Saturday, our friend Ava Sunday, and then, THE CIRCUS!!!! Yes, Manhattan is one of those weird places where you have "playdates" prearranged by the parents. Where I grew up, I walked out of the house barefoot, knocked on the neighbor kid's door and asked, "Can Charlie come out and play?" New York is unnatural on lots of levels but for now it is home.
Crappy weather in NYC this weekend but we'll make the best of it. The apartment will be covered with paint and crayon by the time we're done.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Conversations with the Princess

First, I'd like to apologize to everyone who had trouble with my blog yesterday. I'm still tinkering with the format so it was up and down at times. I picked my host, blogspot, for the only reason that it came up first when I did my search. Being totally inexperienced at this, it seemed good enough to me so I went with it. Little did I know that some of you (QT ???) think b-spot SUX! Alas, unless any major issues come up, I'm here to stay. I hope you can endure the truly painful experience of dealing with my format. :-)

On to the business of the day. Since this blog is about my experience as a single daddy with Miss M, I thought it would be good to give you a sample of our every day conversations (both with and about Miss M) so that you can get a good idea of her amazingly HUGE personality:


#1: Daddy with one of Miss M's daycare teachers on during my 1st pick up:

BCD: "Hi, I'm ****. I'm here to pick up my daughter."

Cutie Teacher: "Nice to meet you. Which one is yours?"

BCD: " *****. I think she's wearing a pink dress today" (is there any other kind?)

Cutie Teacher: "Oh! The crazy one! We LOVE her! Boy does she make class fun!"

I'm in for a lot of parent teacher conferences....


#2: Nicknames - I have many nicknames for Miss M. She's apparently partial to some:

BCD: "Come on Sweet Pea, it's time to go to school."

Miss M (picture furrowed brow, very serious face): "Daddy, I not Sweet Pea. I Boo Boo Head!"

Well, excuse me.


#3 Middle of the Night Negotiation - Miss M frequently shows up at my bedside in the middle of the night wanting to crawl in. I usually acquiesce being too lazy to go through the late night negotiation. This night, however, was right after her birthday and took some special thinking on her part...

Miss M (bedside with Doggie after softly stroking Daddy's hair until he wakes up): "Happy birthday Daddy! I Love You."

Think she got in my bed that night? Enough said, right?


#4: Dinner Menu - It's always an adventure

BCD: "Boo Boo, do you want hot dogs and ketchup for dinner?" (her favorite)

Miss M: "Nooooo"

BCD: "Do you want dinosour chicken?" (Perdue baked breaded dinosour shapes, awesome.)

Miss M: "Nooooo"

BCD: "Do you want hamburgers and green beans?"

Miss M: "Nooooo"

BCD (running out of quick options): "Well baby, what do you want for dinner?"

Miss M: "I want OCTOPUS!"

We had just been to the NY Acquarium the weekend before...


#5: I LOVE THIS ONE - On her birthday

BCD: "Boo Boo, how old are you today?"

Miss M (picture chubby little fingers doing their best): "I tree! How old Daddy?"

BCD: "How old do you think Daddy is?"

Miss M (pensive): "Hmmmm....Daddy five! How old Mommy?"

BCD (holding back a multitude of smarmy thoughts): "How old do you think Mommy is?"

Miss M (furrowed brow, then hugely excited): "Mmmmmm....Mommy OLD!!!"

I love her :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Yes, it's my favorite day of the week. Not Saturday, not Friday, and certainly not Monday. You see, Wednesday is the day I get Miss M back after not seeing her or a couple days. Her mother's nanny (not her mother, but we'll let that one go) brings her to me at 8 AM and we spend an hour or so in the morning cuddling, playing with Barbies, doing the princess thing (yes, I wear the crown), or watching tv while eating breakfast. That hug, when she first jumps into my arms is the best thing I get all week. Doesn't matter what is going on in my life, that one HUGE hug and "Hi Daddy!!!" makes it all melt away.

The Ex and I have a pretty good custody schedule if I do say so myself. Then again, I'm the one who drew it up. Funny how that works. Here it is:

Monday & Tuesday - With the Ex

Wednesday & Thursday - With Daddy

Weekends - Alternate

Sunday nights - to the parent who didn't have the weekend

Having that alternating Sunday night is key. That way I never go more than 2 days without seeing her. During the very contentious early days, that was huge because we angry parents had trouble looking past our own stuff to allow some access on "not your days." Right now we're past that. Hope we keep that up.

This is my weekend so I have her from this morning through Sunday night! I LOVE THIS LONG STRETCH WITH HER!!! We have lots of plans: A Friday night dinner date (we sit at the counter at the local diner and try to talk Daddy and the man in to letting us have chocolate cake for dinner), Saturday a playdate with Gabriel and the gang at the playground behind our building, this Sunday...the Big Apple Circus at Lincoln Center!!! I may be more excited than her.

What is everyone else up to this weekend???

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In The Beginning...

And the blogging begins...

Here they are. Man and woman starting out on life's adventure together. Hope springs eternal, plans are made, excitement and fun are their future. At least, that was the plan...

After four years of marriage, a BEAUTIFUL baby girl (Miss M), and a ton of marriage counseling, endless arguing, painful misunderstanding, and continual hurt feelings, our dreams diverged. We realized that no longer could we try to fit a square peg in a round hole. We were VERY different parents & partners who view(ed) family in incompatible ways that just couldn't be resolved. Everyone has their way of looking at life and that has to be respected (unless it's harmful to others), but sometimes different points of view just can't coexist.

You'll learn from my postings over time that time with family is my number one priority. It's how I was raised and I don't know any different. Give me the winning lottery ticket or more time with Miss M, I'll take my little one every time. My Ex, however, views family as important, but values her freedom and individuality above all. Given her childhood, which I won't go into, I understand why but that didn't change the fact that I was spending evenings and weekends alone with my daughter. A single daddy even before divorce. Love Miss M as I may, I longed for the togetherness of all three of us. The battle ensued and while there was some compromise, it became apparent over time that neither of us willing to compromise to the point that would make the other comfortable. With anger, resentment, some sadness, and lots of fear, I set in motion the wheels of divorce.

Now a year later, with more ugly battles under my belt than I care to admit, I've come to the realization that this is my life. It can be a battle of frustration and wills, lasting pain and anger, tit for tat, or it can become something more: a lesson for spiritual growth and acceptance, forgiveness (but not necessarily approval), and an opportunity to create the family dynamic I've always wanted, even if it's just Miss M and me. The blogs of some of you other single parents have helped me get there for which I'm immensely grateful.

In reading this, maybe you've been through this process and are thinking "Great! That's the place my life changed. Good for you!!!" Or maybe you're just starting this process and thinking "How in the world do I forgive that a-hole I divorced for all the things they did to me and for ruining my dream?" I will tell you that I vacilate between the two every day. It takes WORK EVERY DAY. Every morning I have to reset my head through prayer and meditation. I now realize that I have a choice in life and I'm much more comfortable in my skin when I focus on MY stuff, I keep MY side of the street clean, and I do my best to create MY version of the life I want both when I have and when I don't have Miss M. Notice in that sentence that there's no mention of HER (the EX). Regardless of my desire for her to have been a) a more attentive mother b) faithful to me during our marriage c) a person with conflict resolution skills that I understand, and d) a person who can accept responsibility for her own actions without blaming others, those things are COMPLETELY OUT OF MY CONTROL. I couldn't control those things while we were married so what makes me think I can do it now?

None of this means that I agree with how the Ex lives her life, many of the decisions she makes both with and without regard to Miss M, or that I wouldn't make things different IF I could. But I can't. So if I focus on the good I have now, I know I'll view those past problems (or any future ones) as bumps in the road, not mountains.

So here's the question of the day for all of us: What have I done today to help me work toward fogiving the past and living in the present? It's a goal to strive for in the marathon of life, right? You will surly hear me have bad days here, but if I can't share it with the people who understand this the most, where can I share it with right? We're in it together.