Guest blogger Femi Ayanbedejo: Being a father not once, but twice, has been an incredible experience -- truly life altering. I am the oldest of three kids and taking care of my brother and sister always seemed very natural. However, I'm not sure that I was mentally or physically prepared to be a father. Nonetheless, I dove in head first and accepted the largest task ever put in front of me. The first time I gave my daughter Avari a bath, I put on rubber gloves. My girlfriend looked over and said "Are you serious? We are bathing our daughter not washing the dishes!" Dumbfounded and feeling a bit nervous, I removed the gloves.
"Do you know what you are doing daddy?" My little girl's eyes said, intently fixed on me.No, she wasn't talking yet, but had she been, I am sure that's what she would of said.
"Here we go baby girl!" I said aloud -- and the rest has been a wonderfully unexpected joy ride.
I'm a competitive guy. I started timing myself with a stop watch to see how quickly I could get the dirty diaper off and a new one on. I created brand new techniques never seen by mankind, well at least, man-dad kind. I love every second of every moment I get to spend with my kids. They live in Baltimore with their mom and I find myself on a ton of flights going from California to Maryland.
Living by myself and being a single parent can be a lonely experience. I commend all the women out there that make it work everyday with or without their children's father in their life. There is no job harder than raising a kid -- and it often goes unappreciated.
Being a single dad though leaves me straddling a few dimensions.
My number one job is to be a provider. At all costs, I must make sure that my kids and their mother have everything they need to feel safe. Nothing makes them feel safer than my presence. However, me being there in person does not put a roof over there head, food in the fridge, clothes on their back or a safe car in the garage for mama to drive. I have to do that first. Safety and security are an extension of my love. Often times my decision to provide has created issues between myself and their mother. I have come to the conclusion that there are some things she will never understand.
There are also a number of issues that exist between parents that aren't married. Especially when neither has moved on to another relationship. It's usually her questioning me -- in her mind, she wonders if that's the single, bachelor, ex-athlete making that choice? Or is it the dedicated, father of two drawing that intelligent conclusion.
In my mind I am a single, ex-athlete, dedicated father of two.
That just irritates her more. After we had our second child, I vowed to my children and to myself that, come hell or high water, our kids come first! I have lived every breath since then by that motto. Their mother is everything a mother should be and more. Being a mom for her is like breathing ... natural. In a perfect world, we end up as a perfect family, but that remains to be seen.
Until then, I am simply a happy dad.
|Femi Ayanbadejo was born in Chicago and played for the NFL for 9 years, including the Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins and the Arizona Cardinals. He is a single father of 2 who resides in San Diego, California.|