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10 Years of Mr Mom

I intended to have this post up yesterday as the 28th was the 10th anniversary of waking up and learning that I was a single Dad with custody of three minor children. The oldest was still 3 months away from being 12; the twins were a few weeks away from being 2-1/2. At this point, the oldest is now a college graduate living and working in Pennsylvania; the twins are now 12 and getting ready to start the 7th grade. But, as is so often the case in my life, what I plan to do is one thing. Add in the twins, and what actually gets done can be a different thing entirely.

It was a Sunday morning and I had been up for over an hour before I found the note; the kids were still asleep. I took about 10 seconds for that “Oh shit!!” moment, then shifted to thinking about the impacts. The next day being Monday I was expected to be at work and Bo was due for his first day of the new school year. When Bo got up, I asked if he had everything ready for school. His answer, “No, mom is taking care of that today.” He’s up less than 10 minutes and knows his world has just changed.

There’s more on that transition, but I’ll save that for a separate post one day. Now, I want to address the Ten Years. I have never trash-talked my ex to my kids, and I’m not going to start now. Bo knows a lot more of the details than the twins do. But, I keep in mind that Bo will (might?) read this and the twins will see it also. I will never put something in writing that I haven’t already shared with the kids.

What I can say is, if my ex had left with the kids, I would have tracked her down. As it stands, I really don’t care where she is. The three kids have heard me say that. And I am unbelievably grateful that they are here with me.

The past ten years have been a mix of Ups and Downs. The Ups, though, are far more frequent than the Downs.  And, I think, far more important.

Most important of all, I think, is what I’ve learned over the past ten years. I’ve learned that sex education today is a lot different than when I grew up. I’ve learned that some laundry products can cause rashes on the skin of some children. I’ve learned about vaginal infections. I’ve learned how to buy a bra. I’ve learned I need to be more proactive in monitoring and controlling what my kids do in the online world.

If it were not for the twins, many of the things I do today, I would not be doing today. This blog is a case in point. When my daughter was 11 and asked if she could sign up for Facebook, I said no. The Facebook terms of service essentially tell children that age to go away. I did say that we would get the twins signed up when they turned 13. That gave me a year and a half to figure out how to teach them to use the Internet safely.

Now, I’ve been online for several decades, mostly in a work related capacity. I had expanded that into managing some of my accounts online and I did most of my shopping online. But, other than Classmates, I had no experience with social media. I created my first social media account with Facebook late last year. Much to my surprise, I discovered that my daughter already had a Facebook account (another future post here). In short order, I also signed up for MySpace (and found my daughter there also), Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Twitter is where I felt right at home right from the beginning. I found people that were talking and writing about things I enjoy and find important: sports, parenting, cooking, the environment. In fact, these became the first lists I created when Twitter lists were introduced. And the more blogs I read, I began to think I can do this too. While I certainly do not have a unique position as a custodial Dad, I think I offer a unique perspective on it. So, Mr Mom World gives me a platform to present that perspective.

Am I ready for the twins to be online themselves? Heck NO! But, I’m more comfortable with it now than I was 10 months ago. They’ll be 13 in six more months, so the time is coming.

But, I have found online an entire universe of family that goes way beyond my immediate family. I am writing a post on my response to Allison Nazarian’s Fake Friends post that addresses my family of online friends. I also have a separate post in process on my Influencers so I’ll save the details for that. But, I have had Twitter friends help me pick my new camera and lens, my new MacBook, finding a good (low-fat) eggplant parmesan recipe, the entire transition from sports bra to ‘real’ bra, setting up this blog, etc.

Will I stay online? Heck YES! I’ve really had a good time these past months. So apart from staying online so I can monitor what the twins are doing, I’m going to stay online and continue writing.

When I was growing up, I had all sorts of expectations on what my life would be like. At no time did I anticipate being widowed at age 23. At no time did I anticipate a divorce after 16 years of marriage and 3 kids. The past 10 years as Mr Mom have been intensely rewarding. I am so incredibly grateful to have shared every day of the lives of the three kids. And, I look forward to being part of their every day lives forever. That may or may not fit with their plans, but what the hell, I’m the Dad. Right!!

Is there anything you would have done differently?

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  • http://allisonnazarian.com/ Allison Nazarian

    Your story is amazing. I think each part and piece of it is inspiring, amazing, bittersweet, heartbreaking and uplifting. You gloss over parts of it (I can see this because I do the exact same thing) probably in part because it is painful and tough to write about, part because at your core you probably don’t like to talk about yourself. Whatever the reasons and however you tell it, I want you to know that you are an amazing person. A great Dad, of course, and a great Mr. Mom. You have a great heart and your kids know that everything you do is for them.
    I am proud to be your Fake Friend.~ Alli

  • http://twitter.com/gopalo PALO!

    Wow. How lucky you all are to have each other. Keep up the amazing work. Signed, DFF (Distant Fake Friend) and actual real friend of A. Naz.

  • Steve

    I am in a similar position as you…I have 4 children (19, 14,11 and 9) the oldest boy we took in 2 years ago as he aged out of foster care and didnt have anywhere to go. I have found myself, shopping for underwear and bras for an 11 year old girl…trying to figure out which feminine pad she uses….and a host of other things that I never imagined having to go through. Im 41 years old and was with my ex for 20 years when she left. She is still around, but the kids live with me full time and see her typically once or twice a week. I try not to bad mouth her, and have been pretty successful but I wont lie its very hard, especially with the circumstances that led to her leaving. Just wanted to thank you for your post…it does help to know Im not alone.

  • Tom

    Bob: I’m grateful to know you and thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your story here. Just by getting up every day, loving those kids, and not trashing the ex, you are an amazing example for so many. God bless you and keep writing. = Tom

  • http://MrMomWorld.com Bob Snitchler

    Thank you Allison. I’m working on a reply to your Fake Friend post and should have that done soon. I think (hope!) the parts I’ve glossed over are the parts that aren’t relevant to the story I try to tell. Also, I keep in mind that whatever I write, my oldest son can read now and the twins will be able to read later. I’m trying to stay with a philosophy that says “Don’t post something you would say to their face.” I hope to avoid future regrets that way.

  • http://MrMomWorld.com Bob Snitchler

    You’re very kind, Tom. I don’t see where I’m doing anything different than all of the single moms out there. Just One Day at a Time!

  • http://www.gweipo.com Gweipo

    Great post. I’ve been blogging for 4 years now, starting as therapy for depression, and my online friends have been invaluable on advice, book suggestions, putting me in my place, helping me get perspective you name it, and some have even become real life friends in the process.

  • http://MrMomWorld.com Bob Snitchler

    Thank you. I often tell myself I don’t have time to be depressed – there’s just so much to do. I agree with you 100% on the value of our online friends too. So many have been so helpful. I’m working on another post that addresses just that point. I hope you’ll come back and check that one.