Ok, so I have A LOT to catch everyone up on. Soccer Dad Chronicles 4, How the rest of Cydney’s first week of school went, A Basesball Dad Chronicle, 2 Weekends in Pictures, Quotables, AND some other thoughts I’ve had but life has just not allowed me to write. Maybe that’s a good thing. However, I want to start off with this…
Last June I was hanging out at a friend’s apartment in Manhattan. She lived with her sister and the sister’s boyfriend was in town. We were all sitting around having conversation and my friend mentioned something that she was reading from a 35 year old writer. She said that the writer was saying sometimes that as a single parent she loathed her life and son because while everyone was out enjoying their lives she was at home. My friend said she couldn’t understand how that could be so. As the only parent in the room I chimed in about how I could understand that. I said something along the lines of understanding this. To a room of people with no children who can live their lives however they see fit I know what it’s like to wish from time to time to have such a freedom.
A conversation I was having with a few people last night reminded me of last June. This conversation was about being a single parent. How one often has to keep it moving negotiating and often forgoing your own dreams and identity for the sake of your offspring. It doesn’t stop. It’s exhausting in a way that even the busiest non-parent will never understand. My life over the last four years have been about everyone else around me. I was a husband to someone sick, a son to my mother who was sick, I am the father to my little girl, and the father figure to my nephew who lives with us. This is it.
The reason that I was close to having a mental breakdown the last two months was because my own identity was lost. Taking care of everyone else all of this time seamlessly moving from one thing to the next Chad Milner the 28 year old was dying on the inside. My work life consists mostly of writing about parenting and I do it from home. So even work revolves around parenting. I get tired of writing about it sometimes because it honestly comes from a dark place. I love being a dad, but my road to becoming a good father has been one of such struggle, heartache, pain, agony, yet no tears. All while listening to the most ratchet of music, a cup of coffee, and typing away about the amazing that is Cydney comes “Vietnam Flashbacks.”
I have Vietnam Flashbacks often. Sitting to myself when there’s a quiet moment reminds me of my nights sitting on the porch in Buffalo looking at the Eerie County Medical Center lights with a drink in hand, a black and mild in the other, and music blaring in my headphones getting myself together for work the next morning after being a husband and father wondering when was the day Timile was leaving Cydney and I. When my friends tell me they’re hurting over lost loves I thinking about the time I’m holding my six month old child trying to convince love of my life-who is bald, weights eighty-eight lbs, scars, a table full of the strongest pain medicines, and just finished throwing up-that she is still my #1 girl all while knowing deep down in my heart she’s gonna die one day. The latter of these thoughts pop up a lot now. I let the thought pass and then it’s onto the next thing that’s right in front of me.
My identity is braiding hair, preschool, soccer, homework, Disney Junior, and Frozen songs being stuck in my head all day. I hate listening to that shit all day. It drives me crazy. Sometimes I want to listen to what I want to listen to with my music blaring and not in headphones. I want to curse freely and speak my mind not knowing that there are sensitive ears soaking in everything I say and do. I’m a Sagittarius who are the freest of free spirits who love spontaneity and just going where the wind blows. Just about all of that in me has died because unless it’s family oriented going out and just blowing off steam requires so much planning and stress that it’s not even worth it. As soon as I close this post out I have to run back to Queens, pick up the kids, make sure homework is done, if it weren’t raining practice Cydney, my nephew would have baseball, then take people out shopping for Mother’s Day gifts.
Do I get out? Every once in a while. I did this weekend. While having dinner my long time friend Monique asked me on Friday “How do you balance of this?” I laughed and said jokingly “That’s been the problem! Since my grandmother died and things have got hectic I’ve had lots of offers to talk on the phone about all that’s going on with me. That was good and it helped get me through; but no one who was in New York on the other end of the phone took into account that I may be talked out and need to just “be.”” I guess the other thing that I do to create balance is look out for a friend I know needs a smile here and there because doing what I can to take care of them fulfills that need as well.
Sometimes I need to feed those other parts of my identity. I’m big on balance and when there isn’t any no matter how hard I try things get hectic. I’m getting there. In the last three or four weeks I’ve been beginning to feel like myself again.