I’m a separated Dad. Once a story belonging to others in newspapers and on TV, it is now my own tale too. I’m not particularly interesting, but as millions of single mothers and fathers around the world will relate to the experience, they may appreciate the telling of the tale as it happens.
Nothing has ever felt more important than this. Not the armed and red-eyed Somali shifta I once came across in a dusty village called Jalalaxi, nor the rabid militia pursuing the queues of bundle-toting Tutsi refugees leaving Rwanda as we drove in over the border in 94. Not even South Africa’s famed voting queues of the same year. Because, as dramatic as it may sound, ‘this’ struggle for my children’s fair access to me is the biggest story of my lfe. Wrapped up in it is the future of two delightful beings, their happiness and emotional security.
‘Why, Daddy, why?’, said my 5 year-old on the way to creche two years ago. He was actually testing how many times he could get away with the ‘why’ word, but as we pulled onto the motorway – inbetween our machine-gun giggles at his ploy – it got me thinking. Wondering how my father would have answered that question.
This is a Daddy Story. For me, my now seven year-old boy and his four year-old sister, my greatest gifts from a person with whom I once shared love. A story of contrasts, emotional dead-wood versus big hugs and love measured by legal percentages – as told from this father’s perspective. These precious creatures are products of yet another broken home, insecurities and fragile egos. The tales of single mothers out there with there own challenges are well-told; absent fathers, alcoholics and abusers. On the other hand, what about the mothers who intentionally deprive their children of positive role-models. Women will tell you in shocked voices of other women they know who do that. But men don’t speak about it.
Some parenting authors and child psychologists will say it’s the children’s family history – the way their parents themselves were raised – that will to a large extent shape the way they are. There are many examples to support this, but more importantly it’s the way their parents behave in the here and now – and in the future – that will be the deciding factor in how equipped they are to deal with the world. And how they love.
This writing, with the others that accompany it, is an introduction to my love story.