Preface: Hello friends. This is a guest blog by a dear friend of mine who has a lot of valuable things to share. Instead of him just sharing them with me I thought it might benefit all of us to hear what he has to say and to have a conversation around the struggles of a single dad for a change.
Allow me to introduce you to “The Musician”.
The demise of Guns N’Roses, once dubbed “the most dangerous band in the world”, began sometime in the early nineties. It came as a result of Mr Rose allegedly wanting to control everything – the shows, the brand, the rights to the name, everything. He became quite renowned for throwing ‘tanties’ when things didn’t go his way. It was only a matter of time before it stopped being fun and the other kids didn’t want to play with him anymore. It can be argued that G’n’R still exist but with an ever changing array of band members and ol’ Axl going through his ‘Fat Elvis’ period, it’s hardly the same.
Like they say, being married is like playing in a band. Or was it the other way around?
If I use a spoon full of sugar to help the ‘pride’ go down, I can admit that my other band member started to take control shortly after the birth of our first child, and almost two years into separation she is still after more.
During the marriage there were a lot of rules. The kids and I were never allowed outside without foot wear. Their breakfast food was chosen for them. I recall an argument that stemmed from our three year old wanting to express her independence by choosing her own knickers and bed socks after a shower. I told her to put back the ones mummy chose and get the ones she wanted. Axl didn’t like this
I was restricted in where I could take our children, for how long, even in how I did their hair. Like I said, a lot of rules. In my ex’s defence she is a loving and capable mother and the majority of the rules (albeit over the top) were based around safety and establishing a hierarchy in the household.
Unfortunately for me, I was not on the throne next to my queen but somewhere at the back between the cat and the stable boy. My choice to stay was based on the emotional stability of the kids and the crumbs of hope and ideals that lay around.
The decision to finally move out came when I realised I was failing as a father due to the toxic environment. My authority was constantly being undermined, my freedom to be the dad I wanted to be was always challenged and there was constant arguing that our kids couldn’t escape. Walnuts could have been cracked on the tension in my shoulders. In short I didn’t feel welcome in my own house.
It was decided by both of us that the kids would live with their mum fulltime to avoid maximum emotional upheaval. I didn’t like the idea of the kids constantly shuffling between homes. I came out to the house three to four times a week to take the kids to swimming, or when their mum worked.
Due to a change in employment I was unable to always meet the child support payments so I continued to make school lunches, mow the lawns, remove rubbish, trim trees and other tasks whenever possible. This mediation-free arrangement worked quite well… until now. With new swimming times, the three-and-a-half-year-old going to kindy and the five-year-old in year 1, it is not ‘necessary’ for me to come out as often.
Although I was told I can still mow the lawns if I want to. Like the frog in hot water, the slow death of quality time with my children was apparent (yet the expectation of maintaining the yard was alive and well). When this concern was brought up with Axl, I was informed that the judge’s decision was final and there would be no correspondence.
Why do we start bands or get married? To have fun, make music, or children, or simply to feel we are part of something greater than ourselves. But what do you do when the ‘creative differences’ can’t be ignored anymore and the music or the kids have taken a back seat to ego? If the sixties band The Yardbirds had stayed together we would never have had Led Zeppelin or solo careers of Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. Change when embraced, can benefit the greater good, but when it’s not, it’s usually due to pride. Pride can be a wrecking ball, especially when it involves children.
The wellbeing of my children and setting a good example of following what I believe right is why I stayed. These are also the reasons why I left.
Diplomacy lies KO’d on the stretcher, and mediation is about to get in the ring. Ding Ding.
QUIET DESPERATION: What is hidden in this picture?