Two-year-olds aren’t made to be quiet, so when my daughter left the room and a few minutes of silence followed, it caused alarm. When I followed her, I found her atop the step stool with her hands on her cheeks, elbows on her knees with a pout. The most beautiful combination of words rolled out of her mouth like poetry:
“I want to pee like daddy.”
That was 10 years ago, when I was a 21-year-old boy with a daughter. I wasn’t making much money, but I was making enough to survive. We rented a two-bedroom unit within a cluster of four-plexes that still had wood shingles. The counters, carpet and linoleum were completely out of style and drab. The place smelled like someone else’s cat-loving grandma. The freezer was full of frozen nuggets while the fridge consisted of the ingredients to make a sandwich, along with a Brita water jug and an expired filter. Macaroni and cheese had a monopoly on the cupboards. Life was wonderful. I worked full-time and we kept busy together.
And we were loving it. Her and I, Me and Her, She and Me. Other parents would chime in about what I should feed her, what medicines to give or when to start potty-training. I’d hear them, but shrugged most of it off. Lots of people wanted to babysit for me, but I rarely went out. It took four months for me to go visit old friends. The partnership was established and she knew, without being able to speak the words, that Dad would always be there for her.
As she enters her teenage years in the coming months, I feel good about how much I’ve established myself in her life. She’s not as confusing as some of the women I’ve dated; I understand her; I get her and she gets me. We grew up together, in a sense, and now I see a young, independent, beautiful and risk-taking female version of me. (This version looks much better than the original, by the way.)
These days, when I hear a father complain about how jacked up the family law court system is, I laugh. DivorcePeers.org reports that 51% of child custody matters are agreed between the parents, 29% settled without third party involvement and 11% decided during mediation. That makes over 90% of cases handled without court intervention. And then I read another report from the U.S. Census (page 4) that states 81.7 percent of custodial parents are mothers. Interestingly enough, it grabbed my attention.
Fathers aren’t being treated unfairly by the masses. I’m sure courts don’t always get it right, but there is no secret agenda sneaking custody to the mother. The majority of fathers are choosing this arrangement. Maybe you’re a single dad to an infant with weekend visits; maybe you get a day during the week; maybe you’re ordered supervised visitation; I don’t know. None of it matters.
Whether you came here to learn how to pee like me, or you have a sincere desire to spend more time with your child(ren), you’re going to need to stand up and give it your best shot.
Originally posted on HuffPost
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