This week we’re honoring dads. Often, we hear about single moms raising their children but rarely about the fathers that have that same role. Today, we’re talking to a man who has been doing just that.
How (and when) did it come to be that you became a single parent?
“It was 1998. I had been married for 5 years and in June, my daughter was born. Like most parents, it was the happiest day of our lives. Sadly, just 6 months later, my wife would walk out and leave both me and our daughter.
I died that day. I remember all I could do was watch my wife leave as she drove away. I walked over to my daughter’s room and scooped up my 6 month old baby girl. I sat in the rocking chair and, for almost 3 hours, I just held her and cried and said over and over “your daddy will never leave you”.
2 years after my wife left she was legally allowed to divorce me with out my consent. I had hoped we could restore our marriage but she chose to live her own life and that did not include me or our daughter. [So] I have been raising my daughter on my own since she was 6 months old and today (Monday) she turns 17!”
That’s heartbreaking. Did you encounter challenges over the years?
“Being a single dad of a baby girl, at first, was challenging. These things don’t come with instructions! Haha. Over the years I have faced many challenges as a single dad. Part due to my show schedule, being a full-time magician. But I also must say that magic has allowed me to raise my daughter. There has been huge benefits to being a magician and having a bit more freedom with my schedule.
Some challenges though, were dates that I could not bring my daughter or find some one to babysit. I remember one night the person that was supposed to watch her (8 months old at this point). And I was scheduled to perform at Wal-Mart as I did each week back then.
So I took her with me and brought a back drop and some other curtain material and created a little hide out behind my magic table so I could see her the entire time while I was making balloons and performing magic.
The best part is she either slept or was happily content the entire time. She never made a sound and no one ever knew she was there.”
Is the absence of a mother, or motherly advice, ever an issue?
“Over the years I struggled with my daughter growing up with out a mom in her life. I really believe it is important for children to have a mom and dad in their lives. I understand whole heartedly that this world has forever changed and there are single moms, dads, or even grandparents, raising kids. We need to do our best to provide both mom and dad figures to our kids.
I played the role of mom and dad for these past 17 years and you know what…my daughter turned out amazing. But at the same time, I can see her long for a female role model. I remember when my daughter, Tessa, was just 6 years old and asked my assistant if she could be her Mommy. I die at moments like that but I also know that I must remain strong for her.”
Would you say your daughter is comfortable coming to you for advice or will talk to you about anything?
“I am the one thing that has remained consistent in her life and that has led to having an incredible relationship with my daughter. Whether it’s a heart-felt talk about boys or struggles in school or simply wanting some advice, my daughter knows she can talk to me about anything.”
You and your daughter seem to have a wonderful relationship! What do you like to do together?
“One of the biggest challenges we faced was when I lost my hearing and became profoundly deaf back in 2009. Then just a year later Tessa began to lose her hearing. She is only hard of hearing, and with hearing aids, functions almost as normal. Me however, I am deaf. Learning sign language together was a wonderful experience and really impacted my life. So much so that I created a new show to take to schools to teach about deaf history and culture and inspire the kids showing that, although I am deaf, I will not give up.
We have so much fun. Recently, during my 45 state national tour with my new show DEAFinitely Magic, we got to really explore America. One of our favorite things we like to do together is hiking and turning over as many rocks as we can, hoping to find something…anything. While in New Mexico, we were hiking and I found a 12 inch centipede! That was just so cool.
We also enjoy board games, tennis and share the joy of magic as well. Tessa was my assistant during the tour and we performed over 360 shows!
The real key here is find things you enjoy doing wi your kids and try to do it as often as possible.”
Would you change anything, if you could?
“On one hand, I wish we could have restored [our] marriage or maybe met someone and gotten remarried but on the other hand we have had an exciting fun-filled 17 years. Sure, some ups and downs, but we have prevailed through it all. So, no I don’t think I would change anything. I think all that has happened is exactly how God intended it to be and I am the man I am today because of being a single parent and my daughter is who she is today because of my raising her on my own. We have both faced hardships but we also know that in life you have 2 choices – give up OR give it all you got.”
There are most definitely other parents in your situation, or one similar. What advice would you give them?
“To any single parent, especially a dad, I would remind you that you’re not alone. The biggest key to single, parent life is a network of friends and family. You really discover who your real friends are and I also discovered how wonderful my friends are. The baby sitting, the play dates with their kids, and so much more. It was what really helped me those first 5 years.
I would also remind single parents that you are indeed mom and dad and my hope is that, if possible, your ex could still be part of your child’s life. It is important for them to know their parents. I know it’s not always the easiest and sometimes may be best not to, but when you can let your kid enjoy Mom and Dad, even if it’s just for lunch one day.
I don’t wish being a single parent on anyone but those of us that are, know that there is a special bond that forms with our kids. And if we’re willing to invest in them and be there for them and love them…they will indeed turn out to be awesome kids.
They did not ask for this. They did not choose this single parent life but we can make it the norm and an awesome life for them.”
You’re doing an amazing job.! Is there anything else you’d like to say before we end?
“To any kids out there that read my words, I want you to know that life really is what YOU make it. You did nothing wrong and although you may live only with mom or dad you are loved and you are awesome.”