HOMETOWN St. Charles, Missouri
NUMBER OF CHILDREN Although I have just one son of my own, I have three other children living in my home. My former step-daughter, who is seventeen and a high school senior, recently moved back into our house. She decided that she wanted to come back and live with her little brother. My girlfriend and her sixteen & six-year old sons also live with us. Our house has certainly changed from being quiet and mostly empty, to noisy, full, of people and full of life.
DAY JOB Salesman for Harrington Hoists and Cranes
RELATIONSHIP STATUS Divorced, and currently living in sin!
ON THE WEB www.1andahalfmen.com
*Editor’s Note: Brett writes a beautiful blog about his family and yesterday was no exception. Yesterday was his son’s tenth birthday and he posted one of the most touching letters written to a son that you’ll ever read: “You kicked your way into the universe that morning and showed us that there would still be promise and hope even on that dark day for the world. So many lives were shattered that morning throughout our country. In my world however, things could not have been more different. I had been shattered for a long time but in an instant on September 11, 2001, my life was instantly whole.” Read the entire letter here.
HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY?
Our life changed monumentally after my wife left. Three and a half years ago she walked out the door and has rarely looked back. I was left to raise my son completely on my own.
I am extremely fortunately in the fact that I have an outstanding support system of family, friends, and neighbors. I also am very lucky that my career allows me flexibility. I work from a home office and I do not have set hours. This has its good side and bad side. The good side is that I can schedule work around my son’s events whether it be school, sports, or other activities. The bad side is that on the days that my son isn’t in school and I’m working from home, he has a tough time understanding that dad is at work, even though I’m home.
In the beginning, when I first had to care for my son without any help from his mother, I was forced to find childcare. This was by far the most challenging aspect to the change in our lives. But once again I was incredibly fortunate to find a wonderful babysitting service and after a few tries settled on a consistent sitter who truly loved and cared for my son.
Today our life is much different than it was when my wife departed. We now have my former stepdaughter, my girlfriend, and her two sons, one of which is autistic, all living with us. We now have brand new, completely different challenges.
HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL?
Pre-child I was wild, reckless, and lived for myself and myself only. I gambled and partied like a rock-star. Today my hobby is my son. I coach his sports teams and do as many activities with him as I can.
HOW DOES PARENTING AFFECT YOUR RELATIONSHIP?
I only learned how to be a parent very recently. I had no idea what I was doing for a long time. During the three years that it was just my son and I, the two of us were more like best buds than father and son. Today, with my girlfriend by my side, we are raising our children together.
Parenting affects our relationship in many profound ways. She has taught me tons about parenting. She makes sure that I’m the dad, not the buddy (most of the time). Watching our kids grow and shaping them to be good people is so rewarding that it’s difficult to put into words.
Of course when the kids wear us out it definitely wears on our relationship. We have different styles (and have butted heads on countless occasions) but in the end our differences are what makes our relationship exceptional, and overcoming the difficulties ultimately strengthens every aspect of our relationship.
WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS AS A PARENT AND WHAT ARE YOUR WEAKNESSES?
I put my son’s needs ahead of my own. I’ll drive twelve hours round trip just to be home with my son when he goes to bed at night and when he wakes up in the morning. I’m a positive role model in that my son sees me work hard but he also sees that I spend time with him every second that I’m able.
My weakness is that I have a tendency to be a yeller. (Imaging a combination of Sam Kinnison, Lewis Black, and Dick Vitale.)
WHAT ARE YOUR EX-SPOUSE’S STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES?
*This response was removed from the original post at the author’s request.
WHO ELSE PROVIDES CHILDCARE FOR YOUR CHILDREN?
My girlfriend is now my primary childcare provider while I’m at work.
DO ANY OF YOUR CHILDREN HAVE SPECIAL NEEDS? AND IF SO, HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOUR PARENTING?
My girlfriend’s son has autism. The thing that I’d like to mention about this is that relating to an autistic “step-brother” is helping my son to mature. I’m incredibly proud of the way my son has taken on the “big-brother”role.
WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?
One Sunday evening I picked my son up from a weekend at his maternal grandparents. I had informed my ex-wife prior to the weekend that our son would be spending the weekend at her parents’ house. I told my ex that our son would love to see his mommy. The first thing I did when my son got into the car was to ask him if his mommy came to see him. His response was, “No, but mommy didn’t know I was there.” My quick response was, “Actually buddy, she did know that you were there.”
I immediately realized that I had hurt him deeply and I’ve regretted those words every day since. (I wrote a blog post about that incident.)
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?
The point where I realized that I could do this on my own. (With the help of my support system, of course.)
This realization came after months of sheer panic and terror. I had been left to wonder how on earth I could raise a 6-year old son on my own and keep my job and our home. I look back now and I’m very proud that we’ve done more than survive. We have thrived.