Being a single mom can be hard. Not having a partner in the rough patches can be a struggle. No tag-teamer to pass off end-of-the-day tasks or middle-of-the-night needs to is often exhausting. But there are rewards to being a single mom, too. No fighting for the remote. No how-do-we-parent-through-this disagreements. No one else’s agenda for the day.
But the biggest reward has certainly been the rich relationship that both my son and I have gotten to experience with my dad. Certainly if I had a husband, my dad would have still played catch with Little Man and built birdhouses with him. But he would not have been as present a force in my son’s life. Or my own.
My son loves his PapPap. And my dad has stepped into Little Man’s life in powerful ways. For the first two years of his life, we lived with my parents. One of the first words Little Man learned to sign was “garage” so that he could be with PapPap. I still remember the (terrifying) day when Little Man was about 18 months old and saw my dad go down the driveway for a jog. Well, he simply followed right along. My dad had headphones on and wasn’t aware of his shadow. Little Man was already in the street by the time I got to him, and boy, was he mad at me when I scooped him up and took him away from his adventure with Pappy.
PapPap is always full of fun. He taught Little man how to ride a bike, took him on his first fishing trip, bought him his first set of golf clubs (at age 2!), showed him how to massage the oil into his first real baseball glove, and takes him faithfully every year to sign up for Little League. But he has also stepped in during the difficult parts as well. School snafus warrant a stern man-to-man talk. He weighs in on educational decisions. He has logged many long hours of correcting behavior and following through with the consequences. He has garnered my son’s deep admiration and respect, not just because he’s fun and fascinating, but also because he doesn’t check out when things get hard. Instead, he digs in and engages even more. He is the man my son longs to be someday.
I think that it would be easy for my dad to take on that role with Little Man and have it end there. But it doesn’t. My dad comes over and mows my lawn when I’m not here. Hangs a picture. Fixes a broken door. At the end of a long day of his own fix-it tasks, he finds time to tackle mine, too.
My dad is my financial adviser. He’s the one who told me it was a wise choice to buy a house—I was ready. He came with me to every showing and every bank meeting and paper signing. Then he did it all again when I bought my business. He didn’t HAVE to do a thing or sign a single piece of paper, but he was there, asking questions, considering choices, knocking on the next door with me. One of the things I am most proud of is my nontraditional, entrepreneurial spirit. And that is sparked from, championed by, and continually counseled by my father.
A big part of that is because my dad is an adventurer and a dreamer. He is practical and faithful and wise. But he dreams. And he has ignited that in each of his children. My brother works with my dad in the business my father started, carrying on the tradition of the adventure of small business, investing locally, and making the community better for having been there. My sister is abroad, fully captivated by my father’s “gypsy spirit.” My littlest brother hiked the Appalachian trail for a month, finding adventure in the journey, just as my father did in a cross-country trek at the same age. And me? I’m a fighter, a seeker of stories and a people-connector. And a little bit of a rebel, just like my dad.
We’ve never been told that we can’t do something. Instead, we were told to try and see what happened. And so we’ve each blazed our own paths, taking a little piece of our dad’s spirit with us. We’ve been taught to see the world as bigger than this little corner we inhabit.
I wouldn’t be living this adventure if it weren’t for his faith in me and the fighter he helped me become.