There are two single fathers that showed Brandy Pettigrew what being a parent really was, and she’s so thankful for them both.
In my life I’ve had the privilege to learn a lot from single dads. For me, two special men have changed and shaped my life because of the kind of single dad they are. I believe I’m not the only one to have this honor, but I do cherish the knowledge and life lessons that they’ve given me. Being a single dad is one of the toughest jobs in the world. Moms are often given most of the credit for the way a child turns out, but in my life, it was these 2 special dads who deserve the credit.
My mom left us when I was twelve years old. This was a pretty shocking experience. I was the first kid in my class, in a small rural school district, to have divorced parents. My dad and I weren’t close before she left. He worked a lot. So, most of what I knew of him was: “Wait until your father gets home”. Since my mother’s punishments were pretty severe, I assumed my father must be the scariest man on earth and stayed clear of him whenever I could. But the day my mom left, my dad came into my bedroom. He sat down at the end of my bed. He said that he would understand if I wanted to go with my mom. And then he said the thing that surprised me the most. He told me he loved me and that it was my decision to stay or to go, and that he would support my decision no matter what I did. He told me that this was my home and I would always have a place there either way. Then he asked me what I wanted to do. I was stunned. I stayed with him, because of that conversation. It was the biggest decision of my life, but knowing I had my dad in my corner made it an easy decision to make. Through the next six years, I lived exclusively with him because my mom didn’t want to share custody of me after my decision to stay with my dad. That day I learned my first real lesson from my dad, unconditional love.
So, I spent my teen years as a girl being raised by a single dad. By thirteen, some of my friend’s parents were also divorcing, so I wasn’t so much of an oddity. But I was still the only girl being raised by her father. While my girlfriends were playing with dolls, I was riding four wheelers, building a tree house, and camping. While they were learning about make-up and hair, I was learning to change a tire, engine oil, and help out with household repairs. Through all of that I learned the value of hard work. I learned that my school grades mattered. I learned fierce loyalty and protection are something every child deserves. While some may say I missed out on all of the “little girl”stuff, I say I gained something much more precious. I learned to be a successful adult.
In my mid twenties I met the other special single dad in my life who would eventually become my husband. Having a son myself from my first marriage, I was immediately attracted to the dad he was. My first memories of him were seeing him with his little boy on his shoulders walking through town or helping him pick out a Barney movie in the local video store. He always seemed so blissfully unaware of anyone or anything but his son. You could tell his son was the center of his world.
When I finally caught his attention years later and we began to date I was lucky enough to be allowed into the inner workings of this single dad’s life and ideals. He told me about how, when I had seen him years before, he only had partial custody of his son. So, he tried to make every moment last and make it special and meaningful. This didn’t mean spoiling his son. This meant really spending quality time. He played with his son, but he also tried to teach discipline, manners, and once his son went to school he worked with him on his school work too.
By the time we were dating, he had full custody of his son. Now there was just as much reason for making each moment count, but he was also learning to temper that with time for other things that he was passionate about. He taught me that it isn’t just about being there for your child. To truly be a good parent you can’t give up on your dreams and passions. The things that you love to do should be done to. Doing this makes you a better person which helps you recharge and come back to your child ready to take on more of their life challenges, as well as getting into a good friendly wrestling match or flying a kite in the yard.
Once we were married my lessons certainly didn’t end. Each day with this wonderful man, I learn and grow. He’s taught me that I can’t just be the person to teach and discipline, but I also need to be the one to listen and just be silly with. He’s taught me to always strive in the best for our boys, and to help them achieve their dreams. And best of all, he’s shown me that now that I’m all grown up, I can be that little girl. He’s shown me that I deserve to be treated with love, respect, decency, compassion, and kindness.
I am thankful everyday for all that they two amazing single dads have brought into my life. Father’s Day isn’t just one day out of the year for me, it’s everyday. Thank you to my dad and my husband for being the men that you are.
Brandy is a wife, mother of two teenage boys, and a Writer/Editor. In her spare time she enjoys reading and traveling to exotic locations. She is her family's "Queen of Useless knowledge," specializing in obscure European history. Currently Brandy is working on a novel.