The first ever guest post on my blog is by my lovely friend Bob. If you don’t already know him, then the only thing I need to add to his post is that I want you to read it with the knowledge that he is the master of understatement, a genuinely humble and modest man. Bob is a wonderful father to two very lovely (and lucky) girls, a good friend and has a work ethic that most should admire.
Without further ado, and with much applause, I hand you over to Bob:
The invitation to write something for @coffeecurls’ blog was met with a mixture of pride and trepidation. Pride because this is one of the few blogs I really read, and Lisa’s writing style is easy and flowing and natural. It would be a hard act to follow. Trepidation? Well that feeling arose because firstly, my writing style is more jolted and clumsy, and secondly, I knew if I was to write anything, I would want to make it meaningful and informative. And to do that, I would have to be honest.
So this post may be a bit clumsy in terms of grammar and it may not flow with ease. But it is written from the heart and the head and I have tried to be really open and honest about quite a tricky subject for many single Dads; this blog post is about love and sex.
With running www.onlydads.org I am privileged to come into contact with many lone fathers and there is a general perception that single dads live their life like Jack the Lad. I think people do the Maths…”ten times more single mums than single dads…blimey son, you’re in luck”
And in some ways this is true. As a single Dad we do meet more single mums than we do single dads. Of course we do. But there is a gap between the statistic above and living the lifestyle of our mate Jack!
I will explore why I think this is with my own story:
Welcome to the world of being a single dad
I was left living with my two girls (then 4 and 7) when my wife ran off with her gym instructor 6 years ago or more. This chap was many things, but he was also muscular, extremely fit, and in truth quite handsome. When you hear from your ex that he is also “very good in bed” as a man you feel…well what do you feel? Deflated? Not a bad word, yes – deflated.
But this feeling of “deflation” is amplified. When you become a single parent Dad through separation it is always “news”. People mutter and talk. “She’s left him and her kids”. One can almost hear the questioning about what sort of husband you must have been to facilitate such drastic action as a Mum leaving home. These are hard concerns and worries to live through.
My introduction to single parenting began at 4.00pm one afternoon in May 2004. I came home from work early to find my two daughters with a childminder. The two girls and the childminder were visibly upset. My youngest Anya was crying…the childminder took me outside and told me that “she has left”.
My wife had left. She was never to return. I paid the childminder off and asked her to leave us. I remember seeing her run down her path audibly crying. Back inside, both girls looked scared. I remember hugging them. But it was not a love hug, the sort of hug that some Dads reading this will give their daughters and sons. It may not have been a hug at all. Perhaps a mutual “clinging” would be a better description.
The entry point into becoming a single parent is rarely a pleasant one. We do hear of mutual partings where everyone remains friends, but for many I fear, it is so often the opposite.
My entry point to single parenting left me feeling broken. Like I was not a true man. Something less than a man… a failure.
Later that same week I had to walk into work. Everyone knew by then. It took guts and strength to hold my head up. I did not (could not) hold it up high. But hold it up I did. All single parents reading this will know that inner strength that we develop. The strength that says “get up” when all you want to do is crawl away and hide.
I relied heavily on that inner strength in the first few weeks and months.
But in those early days I was supported by many. Friends like @Traveloguer (he’s crap at Twitter so don’t follow him! ) kept me going in ways I can’t adequately express. How fortunate to have true mates…but (and I’m sure all single dads will relate to this), you also find your house being visited by single women with all sorts of offers of help and support especially in the early days.
I used to wonder if it was because they didn’t think I could cope on my own…now I wonder if at least some of them thought they might strike up a relationship??
Jack the lad!
One such lady…Sophie, caught me on the way into work one morning. (I was in a suit and tie in those days). She took my tie off in the street and loosened my collar, and lifted my chin up, pecked me on the cheek and said something like “much better”. I got into work that morning with something of a spring in my step…a week later she asked if I wanted to come over to her house in Provence for a few days. “Just the two of us”. The kids were packed off to Grandma’s in a flash and I was on a plane!
If you can’t enjoy sex in the late September warming climate of Provence with no kids and wine at lunchtime then there is something wrong. It was a blissful few days 😉
But back in the UK, the daily grind of another type returned. Guilty at having left my kids and mounting pressure at work, and an endless round of Divorce hearings and…the list goes on…meant that our fledgling relationship was put under strain. This one was not to last. But Soph was and is a lovely person…and for reminding me that I was a man and not one who should hide-away was a real gift. Thank you Soph!
It was a year before I met Lisa. (Lisa was blonde with extremely curly hair btw). Another lovely woman – this time a single mum. We used to live a mile or so from each other and although we never moved in together, we used to see a lot of each other. It was good…but again not destined to last. Another 11 month relationship?? Another lovely person gone from my life. Lisa was a Northerner and could make me laugh like no-one before. But why?
Sex (I believe) became an issue in both these two relationships sadly. Both Lisa and Sophie enjoyed having sex with me. And I did with them – don’t get me wrong. But these relationships were being forged at a time when single parenting and work were really sapping me of my sex drive.
I was spending day after day doing house work, making packed lunches, shopping, cooking, trying to cope with a full-time job…and to be honest, by the time I got the kids to bed at 8ish I was more Done-In than Don Juan.
I think many single mums will relate to the shear tiredness factor that must impact on new relationships. But for dads who cope with the all the domestic drudgery…I really do believe that there is something emasculating about the whole thing. What is it my “friend” Chris wrote in a paper once “Bob …more Wonder Woman than Superman”
He made a valid point!
Men need confidence to enjoy good sex. That is a male #fact.
So when single dads I talk to speak of feeling “effeminate and boring” because all they do is housework and domestic stuff, I can really relate. It’s a horrible feeling. All single Dads I have ever met go through periods when their confidence (hence their sex-drive) disappears temporarily.
I tell them (and myself when I remember) that although we may be domestic drudges; my God, we should be super confident because we really are doing it all. Alpha Males might be bullish in the work place and a bit shouty down the pub…but if you want to find a real man…single dads up and down the land step up to plate, and in my book, have everything to be proud of.
Our confidence really should be sky high!
As for me, I long for the day when I find myself in a long-term sexually fulfilling and loving relationship.
It takes confidence though to make a move – and sometimes I still feel like I might want to hide away – while at other times, I just know I can move mountains!
Whatever – and I do like to keep our single dad friends in mind…our time will come. I’m sure. If in doubt we just need to look at the statistics… 😉
Yes, he did start by saying he couldn’t write. Am sure you’ll all agree with me now that he is a far too modest man! Please comment below to let Bob know what you thought about his guest blog – it took some convincing to get him to do it and I’d really like him to feel the love! If you are a twitterer – please also tweet him @OnlyDads to share your views on this post.