Being a stay at home dad was one of the hardest things I've ever done. The daily chores and never ending list of things to do wore on me. When my son was at school, I had my daughter with me. Laundry would be done and dishes would hopefully be put away. We would take trips to the park and read books and hopefully I'd get a 10 minute break with my daughter on my lap. Then their mom would come home and the kids would be ready for dinner and she would need a break from working all day. So I would make dinner and feed the family which would often be going out for pizza or something easy like pasta. Basically constantly on the clock with little to no appreciation from anyone.
So I craved a break from the chaos. I'd offer for their mom to take them to Disneyland without me so I'd have a break from everyone. Right when the kids were out of the house, I'd immediately miss the chaos and almost need them back. It was truly strange because here I was wishing I was in a quiet room with no one around feeling like quiet and low key was what I needed. I was wrong. And I didn't know at the time that's what was going to be my life on a daily basis in the near future.
Going from a stay at home dad to living as a single dad was and is a horrible experience. There isn't a moment that goes by that I'm not missing my son and daughter. I talk to them on a daily basis and can see them whenever I want which is very nice.
My free time, when I have any, is spent running, practically every day. I love this activity as it helps me sort through my thoughts and feelings. I've never been one to medicate my issues so I've felt something constructive like endurance sports would be the best way. However, I've learned that it's a very selfish sport. Stay with me here.....
The free time I have, I could be spending with my kids. I wake up for a run and I think, I could go see them(on my days off) but I choose to go for a long run or explore the trails and mountains. Or maybe I registered for a race. Where do I draw the line? I feel as if any of my free time I should be spending with my kids.
The point is, as endurance athletes, we tend to put a lot of time, energy, emotion into what we do that we often wonder if it's all worth it. I'm not sure if that makes sense, but I question my commitment to my kids all the time. Hey look I have a day off but I want to go run instead of seeing my kids.
Outside of work, I have very little social interaction with people. I don't go to bars or hang out at the mall. My days of going to shows is behind me, though I'd go support my friends bands if they ever travel through, so where and when do I have "me" time?! I'm so conflicted when it comes to being away from Eaben and Shea, but I want to work on me so badly so I can be the best dad they could ever have.
The time I put in, training for ultras, is a lot. I could be out for 7+ hours, running. And I feel selfish and guilty that I'm not spending that time with Eaben and Shea. Why?! Are they proud of me? Do they see why I'm running? Do they love me? These are all the things I think about, daily. So conflicted and confused. At what point do we as parents sacrifice what makes us happy in order to spend more time with our children?
I want them to see me run. I would absolutely love for them to come running with me. I want them to see me happy, smiling, doing what I love to do. I would love for them to be at the finish line one day cheering me on, or holding up a sign in support for me.
The other day, I was able to run part of the Zanegrey 50 miler course with a group. The higher altitude got to me and broke me down. I was in good spirits and get fine other than tired and lacking energy. My nutrition was good and I felt hydrated. However, all I wanted to do was take a nap, fall asleep. But I thought to myself, "if I quit, what example would I be settling for my kids?" I've always made it clear to them, that as long as you try your hardest, that's all anyone can ever ask of you. If you try your hardest and fail, at least you have it your all. So I continued on and pushed through some tough miles and climbs and finished the 25 miles.
Being a single parent is not easy. Being away from your children is brutal, but we must find a healthy balance of spending time with our kids and working on ourselves, evolving who we are into greater versions of ourselves. You aren't able to take care of anyone unless you learn to take care of yourself first. I know it sounds easier than it actually is, but it's imperative that we focus on ourselves, too. It may come off as a selfish act, but in the long run, it's benefiting our children. No child deserves an unhappy parent. So I run. Running helps me smile and feel good about myself. At times I see it as a selfish act, but I see the bigger picture and I know deep down that this is what I'm supposed to be doing with my life. My kids are proud of me, they love me and think I'm a great dad. When I get into a dark place, their faces pop into my head and I smile. I give it my all and even at times when I feel like quitting, I push on. They mean so much to me, they are my motivation, my inspiration, my fuel, my family. I'm fortunate to have 2 wonderful, loving respectful children like Eaben and Shea. Thank you so much you two, dad loves you more than you'll ever know.
I hope I can reach other parents out there and help them in any way I can. You are not alone. We need the support from our families in order to achieve the greatness we strive for. I am here with open arms and I'll do what I can to help you see the greatness within. Let's do this together and support one another.