Lone Warriors

by Rich on September 8, 2018

Man, it is so hard to be a parent.

Under the best of circumstances, with a supportive partner, when all the planets align and the perfect hand is dealt, being a parent is just hard.

I was thinking about that this week as I watched some of my friends working hard to navigate the maze of the parental jungle. They are all good people, these men and women, with good hearts and the best of desires for their children. They are also all divorced, like I am. Some have remarried, but most are like me, single. And for those of us who find ourselves in this state, whether as a consequence of our own choices, or for some other reason, the challenges of parenting become exponentially more complicated.

“Co-parenting” is a term I wasn’t familiar with until my divorce. I am intimate with it now. Thankfully for all the right reasons.

God has bestowed a grace on me that I surely have not earned. I am fortunate to have an ex who shares a common goal for our son, and so co-parenting with her has been, by all accounts, pretty successful. We communicate, we coordinate, we support. We aren’t perfect, but we work well together on this task.  I am learning from my friends that our situation is all too rare.

So many are out there, fighting the good fight alone. These men and women often have to fill both parental roles for their children, and that’s virtually impossible. But these people do it. Every day. They shoulder the doubt, the pain, the uncertainty of raising a child in today’s world. And when there are joys, they often find no one to share it with, which is it’s own kind of loneliness. And really, I don’t know how they do it. I mean, it’s hard for me, and as I stated earlier, I’m probably in the best of these types of situations.

Seeing these friends out there, grinding every day for their kids, is a level of inspiration I find hard to explain. The sacrificial love that I witness from these parents is otherworldly. And it doesn’t end. All parents learn that hard fact the older their kids get. You never stop being mom or dad. You never stop carrying those burdens and concerns. What that looks like from the outside changes, but what parents carry in their hearts never does. And while it looks like some have it easier than others, due to finances or the temperaments of their children, the truth is, all parents, of children of every age, are battling their individual battles.

So say a prayer for these lone warriors. They need it. I mean, we all do, no matter where we find ourselves on the parenting spectrum, but these single parents especially. Say a prayer, send a text, make a phone call. When you’re out there doing it by yourself, it’s easy to feel invisible. Just getting some recognition and emotional support can mean the difference between continuing the grind, or falling into a spiral of self doubt and desperation.

Because no matter how you slice it, it’s hard to be a parent.



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Early Birds (Minus The Worms)

by Rich on September 3, 2018

Six a.m. is early for most people. But the older you get, the less early 6 a.m. feels.

This morning, a holiday morning, I was up at 6 a.m.. And it didn’t suck. And there are a couple of reasons for that.

My day job begins at five in the morning, and, being a divorced guy in a small town, that means that I can set my alarm for 4:30 and be in the office at five. Alarm, bathroom, teeth, clothes, bed (yes, I make the bed. Extra pillows and all), prepacked daily gear, keys, a nine minute commute if I hit every red light, and I’m in the office. Convenient. So 6:00 in the morning is an extra hour and a half, even if I go to bed later than usual.

The other reason is that, as I get older (pushing 50. Not there yet, but I’m close enough to read the warning label), I enjoy the early morning hours of quiet and peace. The luxury of having a cup of coffee and watching the sun rise while I have some private time is something I value more and more.

I bring all of this up because this morning I noticed something that I had not really noticed before.

I live in a college town. And that is both great and horrible, and for the same reason. It’s great because I am surrounded by the enthusiasm and energy of youth. Every day I interact with young people with all of life laid out before them. All the choices, all the possibilities… the world is their oyster.

It’s horrible because it’s a constant reminder that I am no longer young and will never have all of those myriad of options in life. Every decision leads to a direction that changes your options. And I’ve been through enough that, well, some doors are now pretty much closed.

But this morning, I noticed something that gave me hope. It maximized the great and lessened the horrible.

I had to go meet my son at the repair shop. He works 3rd shift and his old car is on the fritz. Life. He’s learning fast. So I was out and about, not just up, at this early hour. We met at the shop, took care of business and then I headed back home to my little condo that I love, tucked into a corner about a thousand yards from campus. And as I made that drive home I saw 3 people that made me reconsider some things.

Like I said before, living in a college town means being surrounded by youth. It is not uncommon to see lithe young bodies with 5 % body fat and perfectly toned muscles, cruising around town in the latest fashionable running gear, barely breaking a sweat as they nail 8 minute miles on their daily 10 ks. At 3 in the afternoon. In August. When it’s 94° and 90% humidity.

But what I saw this morning was different. Three individuals. A man. Maybe my age, maybe older. Same amount of gray in his beard. Not an Olympian, but maybe a former athlete. In good shape. Striding along at his somewhat leisurely pace. One New Balance shoe in front of the other. In his comfort zone. Working, but getting it done. A woman. Probably younger than me, but not by much (and who can tell anymore, let’s be real here). Hair up, hat on, iPhone in a fanny pack, fast walking with hand weights and really getting after it. Purposeful. Intense. On a mission. Another man. My age or there about. Wrong shoes, wrong socks, wrong shorts, sweat band on his receding hairline. Working hard. Barely making it. Not fat, but heavy. Determined to reach whatever goal he had set, be it distance or time. Huffing and panting, just trying to breathe.

All of a sudden I was inspired. I was motivated. I was comforted. I was encouraged and revitalized. These were my people. No longer full of the blossoming potential of youth, but refusing to allow time to limit their potential. I had never noticed them because I’m usually at work. But this day I did notice them. These three people know what I am starting to know.

Do it now, because there may not be a later.

I don’t say that to be morose or negative. There is a liberation in that. These people started their days by doing something. Something for themselves. Working, striving, efforting toward a goal. To paraphrase one of my favorite movies, they were not content to sit on the sidelines as the events that effected them unfolded to determine the course of their lives. They were making a stand. Drawing a line in the sand and refusing to go gentle into that good night. And making it a priority. So much so that the sunrise was part of their routine.

So let the youth have their afternoons and nights. I do not begrudge them that. Life is full and pizzas magically disappear from your waistline when you’re 21. Good for them. But I know something they haven’t figured out yet and cannot fathom with the absence of experience: get it done now, for nothing after this moment is guaranteed.

Six a.m. may be early for them, but really, the older you get, the less early it feels.

Times a wastin’…

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Life Will Out… Thank God!

September 3, 2018

  “Life will out.” Maybe you first heard that while watching Jurassic Park or Grey’s Anatomy. Or maybe you’re super smart and did better than my half-assed internet research and know the true origin. And no matter where you heard it, or even if you are reading it here for the first time, you instantly […]

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Alone With My Thoughts

August 23, 2018

Perhaps it is my age, or maybe it is the particular stage of life in which I find myself, but I have been thinking a lot about the idea of being alone. Probably because I have been a lot lately. Alone, that is. Not a fun topic for most, and down right terrifying for many. […]

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Well…Here We Go…

August 15, 2018

Fifteen weeks. It’s been fifteen weeks since my last update here on A Ride In A Jeep. A lot can happen in fifteen weeks, and a lot has. But first, I’ll try to explain why it’s been so long. I love my little blog. It’s been a great outlet for me, both personally and professionally. […]

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It’s The People, Dummy

May 3, 2018

For the last few weeks, I’ve made an effort to keep things lighthearted, because, truth be told, I’ve been a bit, well, introspective. I suppose that’s the correct word. Not melancholy or sad, per se (although those emotions have stopped in from time to time, like uninvited in-laws), just…pensive. And there have been reasons for […]

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Bit By The Bug Again

April 30, 2018

While I don’t recommend it, I must admit that I learned something this past week while suffering with the flu. I don’t recommend the flu, that is. I do recommend learning things, although that whole “ignorance is bliss” thing can be pretty attractive at times, but I digress. For the better part of three days, […]

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Six Simple Rules

April 23, 2018

The NCAA recently released some new rules for college football, and while some of them appear to be beneficial and some head scratchers, none of them address some of the key areas and problems that I keep hoping will be fixed. Sure, it’s probably a good idea to not allow schools to have former stars […]

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Late From Chi-Town

April 16, 2018

I’m late filing this column, but it’s not my fault. I blame the people of Chicago. That’s where I am right now, Chicago. I came for a couple of reasons, but mainly for the weather (that’s a joke). Actually, I came to Chicago because I needed a breather and it’s been on my bucket list […]

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Par For Most Courses

April 9, 2018

In honor of Masters Week, I decided to end my three year abstinence from the game and grabbed my clubs to hit the links. Since I need to write off the incurred expenses from my round, I am obligated to write about it. My apologies. Having shunned the sticks for such a long period of […]

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