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Author: Eric Walker

How I Became a Better Father After Splitting with My Co-Parent

Several years ago when Ella was a baby, we were at my mom’s house. Ella was in my arms. I noticed she needed a diaper change. So I called to my to ex. Then handed Ella over to her.

‘She needs a diaper change,’ I said.

As I recall, that may have been the norm. I cringe when I reflect back on it. It feels like such a “bad form” move. Why didn’t I just change the diaper?

Because for years, I was consumed with making money and making amends with a sore spot that tainted the tread of my soul. The result? I not only failed at doing so, I wasn’t present to the beauty right in front of me. Diaper changing included.

So what changed? We broke up.

It may not have been as one-sided as I am depicting. What’s for sure is that the break up forced me to take stock of who I was. I had to get clear on what the fundamentals of successful parenting should look like (to me).

Here are just a few things that changed me for the better as a parent:

  • I morphed into a multi-tasker, taking on chores previously done by my ex.
  • Once away from the stress of a failed relationship, by degrees, I became more relaxed, more reflective, more present, and as a result, enjoyed being fully immersed with my life raising children.
  • I developed my own parenting style.
  • With 50% scheduled parenting time, I no longer took anything for granted, and thus, developed a more single-minded focus with the kids (as well as my off-parenting time, which has proven healthy).
  • I became much closer and more connected to my children. Like so many nuclear families, mom is the center of everything and dad is a supporting player. I became the center of everything when they were with me.
  • I got focused on (very) slowly repairing damaged relationships from an old version of myself. This improved my self-esteem and the surrounding support every parent needs when raising children.

Right now, it doesn’t necessarily get easier to leave my children at mom’s doorstep, sharing holidays or having to work everything around a parenting schedule, but I’m proud and grateful for the process.

I always say about parenting: the first step is a journey and going all the way is a promise. I live by that.

Last night after a day of playing, visiting, crying, laughing, cooking, cleaning, running around town, and then cuddling them into bed, I came back later. They were sleeping. I looked with wonder at the angels who have transformed me.

Artistic Stability 

I’m currently reading Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

When you begin to write right out of your own mind you might have to be willing to write junk for five years, because we have accumulated it over many more than that and have been gladly avoiding it in ourselves. We have to look at our own inertia, insecurities, self-hate, fear that, in truth, we have nothing valuable to say. It is true that when we begin anything new, resistances fly in our face. Now you have the opportunity to not run or be tossed away, but to look at them black and white on paper and see what their silly voices say. When your writing blooms out of the back of this garbage and compost, it is very stable. You’re not running from anything. You can have a sense of artistic security. If you are not afraid of the voices inside you, you will not fear the critics outside of you. Besides those voices are merely guardians and demons protecting the real treasure, the first thoughts of the mind.

— Natalie Goldberg

from Writing Down the Bones

8 Exercises for Dealing with Life’s Emotions

For me, fitness is medicine. Especially for dealing with feelings and emotions.

Here are workouts from my life experience that have helped me deal in a healthy way.

If you’re feeling…

Heart Broken

Go distance running.

Find a pace and “run Forrest run!” Hit cruise control on your pace once you reach 65 or 70% of your max heart rate. This repairs the heart by pumping so much blood into it.

Insecure or Unsure of Yourself

Do sprints along with core exercises.

With the sprints, focus on having the posture and keeping Olympic gold medal form. The sprint posture is a metaphor for independence. The core exercises will help keep your shit together. Literally.

Re-connection

Swimming.

Swimming forces you to be in your body, and find buoyancy and equilibrium. Feeling disconnected with your significant other? Swim together.

Reinvention

Yoga.

Yoga will force you to stretch, strengthen and breathe. It will quench your anxiousness, allow you to find your calm. If you practice consistent, in 30 to 90 days you will be unstuck, which paves the way for reinvention.

Falling in-love

Lift weights.

Keep everything pumped, inflate the muscles with blood. It’s also testosterone and oxytocin producing. Yum!

Angry, Frustrated, Rage

High-intensity interval training combined with meditation.

The short bouts of high intensity will neuter the anger. The meditation will, over time, help curb the triggers which send you into the red zone of rage.

Tough Decision to Make

Batting cages or Frisbee or “around the world” basketball.

Keep your hands and body moving together where you have to hit the ball, make the shot, or make a throw/catch. While you do so, keep visualizing best case scenarios.

Creativity Block

Trampoline or jump rope.

Basically you’re bouncing to loosen all your stuff, which will prime the pumps to get your creativity moving.

If you have an emotion not listed, grab my contact info on the side bar and let me know. I’ll match you with a corresponding exercise.

Picture of a Naked Woman

Tribute to my Pobby (grandpa)

This, long after he grew tired of being young and full of running.

This, long after sweeping away the ashes from tables he set and torched.

This, long after he broke from desire when it went back on what he believed.

This, long after he silenced his screaming. Then learned to breathe.

He remarried, sketched his wife nude: swinging hair and hips, hand covering

her breast. Looking toward the Big Lake one early August morning in the 1970s

when the sun rose high in the sky, and his love for her was a landscape.

Let’s Catch a Ball Game

Let’s catch a ball game this summer,

something local in our town. I love

the idea of talking real talk with you

in-between my narrative of the

baseball being played on field. People

watching is fun too. You’d get a kick

out of the vendors hustling beer.

I want us to sing

“Take Me Out To The Ball Game”

together in the seventh inning.

I’ll order a brat with kraut and peppers.

What would you order?

I’d have a poem my grandpa wrote

about baseball in my pocket. After he

passed, I rewrote it. I could read it

to you, stopping to explain every line.

I love baseball. I loved my grandpa.

You’d see me smile with my eyes.

They might glisten in the rereading.

Those eyes that would be open to you

and, catching your gaze, we’d stare

deeply at one another, and fall in love.

Dad, I Can See the World!

We climbed and climbed and climbed. We ditched our shoes as soon as we began climbing the rolling mountains of sand.

Then we arrived at an absolute vista of our beloved Great Lake. We were surprised. We’d never been here before. ‘Look at that, Lucan!’ I said and pointed out beyond.

We had just climbed the highest dune. We were gazing down upon the Great Lake, which was performing waves that raced far. We were proud to contribute our climb. Lucan took a long pause.

He said, “Dad, I can see the world!”

My son just said, “Dad, I can see the world!” and the depth of that statement belted sweet and low down feelings deep into my heart.

There are things we hear and when we really hear it is why we are in the world. That’s how I felt in that meaningful moment.

If there was a tattoo parlor set up in those dunes that day, I would have gotten “Dad! I can see the world!” tattooed across my shoulder blade.

Dad, I can see the world! was blowing my mind.

Lucan didn’t linger too long with the view.

He was five at the time of this moment. I watched him run off.

The pitter patter of his graceful, fast moving feet. The elegant way his feet tap danced across the sand. How that was juxtaposed with the power of his motoring legs digging hard. My little boy, Lucan, and that epic view. All of it moved me.

There were two glances to beholden:

First, that of my boy, so small in a big world, so many years to go.

Second was the grandeur of the view, and how fast time passes in our pursuit of all things beautiful.

And surrendering to the moment, because I acknowledge what isn’t beautiful too, which I see in-between the magnificence of the view.

Lucan’s tracks reminded me of our smallness in the world. It’s such a small significance. Yet with each step of his, there went the entirety of my world. There went my flesh and blood running fast enough to create his own wind. His tiny breath so alive and well and strong, pulsing into the ears of my guts and my heart.

Without him expecting to hear me, I said, “We have miles and miles to go together Lucan Frederick Walker!”

A tear arrived at my eye because of my faith to travel the miles with this kid. I chuckled at the same time because I felt earnest about the fact that Lucan actually did see the world at our view. And now, he was running with determination after it.

It felt like a signature moment for us, a first of many, where we’d be our own truth of spirit staring into the majesty of it all. One of us would always notice. I am so proud that it was him on that day.

His words kept replaying, “Dad, I can see the world!”

For a moment, I had doubts of myself.

Am I passing on the right things to him? Some things wash out in the water and some things are in the blood. Where on the balance were me and my son?

Because, with another glance at Lucan, I was reminded of a song his mother wrote, she sang, “…Why do we hold on when nothing stays, suddenly the sand changes shape underneath the relentless waves…”

There have never been more true words. I’m well aware of the impermanence of things. I’m aware of how we create temporary homes for what suffering creates when things come together and then fall apart. This view seems proof there’s plenty of room for that coming together and falling apart.

“Dad, I can see the world!”

I pulled my phone from my pocket to snap of a picture of this view. Then began the descent on our way down to water. My mind was still working his moment of clarity through my imagination.

I smiled to myself, muttered, ‘hashtag tattoo moment’ because – how cool for me – for the first time in 41 years of life, I felt compelled to get a tattoo. Like I finally knew what it should be.

Then I felt a tad cynical.

Like I could have said to Lucan: ‘Are you sure that’s not your own dizziness, son?’

…Because I think that view is just a carving from all our vein movements toward what can’t be seen and what isn’t ever going to be known.

I finally caught up with Lucan.

We marched onward together. In and out and up and down through the dunes. Then we reached the water.

The waves filled the air. The wind was strong. The waves crashed hard, still in turmoil from the thunder and lightning storm the night before. It was rough out there.

My son looked to me. I loved the way he looks at me.

“Dad! I can see the world!”

And, as I took off my clothes, and leaned into the wind, I said to myself, ‘Me too Lucan. Me too!

Then I spread my arms like the gulls that hover on the ancient air. My heart pounded wide open in my chest. I dove in.

Lucan followed.

Love You More

At bed time last night.

Me: I love you.

Her: I love you more.

Me: I love you most.

Her: I love you more than most.

Me: I love you more than most of all.

Her: I love you more than most of all happily ever after.

Me: I love you more than most of all happily ever after since before you were born.

Her: I love you more than most of all happily ever after since before you were born and into our next generation.

I thought she got me. Up ’til this point, she always forgot the sequence.

So I sigh like she “won.”

::pause::

Her eyes widen like gotcha Dad!

Me: I love you more than most of all, happily ever after, since before you were born and into our next generation until the last Daddy Daughter heart force.

Impressed, she hugs me sweetly, says confidently, That’s a lot of love, Dad!

We kiss and rub noses. I get up from her bed, ‘Love you Ella.’

Love you too, Dad.


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