Being a father is hard. Don’t get me wrong, it is both enjoyable and full of rewards, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is a labor forever. When you have children you are fortunate enough to worry over them every minute of every second of every day. It is torturous and it is a blessing.
My first marriage was horrible. There were so many things wrong that when I think back on it I literally get nausea’s. It’s hard to believe that I went through it and that it actually happened. I say this with no amount of exaggeration intended, it was like living a nightmare. It was a bad situation, but when a marriage begins to dissolve when is it ever a good situation? The outcome worked to my advantage and now in my second marriage I have been able to experience what a good, healthy, and loving relationship is truly like.
For a time before I met my lovely wife, I experienced life as a single father. Being a father is a challenge and when you are doing it by yourself the challenge becomes greater. My children at the time were two and four years old. For a period during that time my children were with me for 5-7 nights a week. I worked a full time in overtime and a part time job where I tutored college students all in an effort to simply pay our bills and feed us, all while still in school myself. My children and have never went without food, but there were times when I would be crunching numbers and I was worried. The fear of not being able to feed your children is a motivation that I would not wish on anyone.
My schedule was relentless. I would wake every morning at 3am, get my children ready and take them to my grandmother who was a godsend. I would pay her $25 a day and bring food for her to care for my children while I worked from 5am to 3:30pm. I would immediately leave work, drive to my grandmothers, gather my ladies, and slump home. Once home, I would feed the ladies, bath them, enjoy them what little I could, and get them ready for bed. Once they were asleep I would begin working at my part time job, which I could do from home. After several hours of this I would try to find time to give my own classes attention and I would manage to either fall asleep at my desk or trudge to my bed to get an hour or so of sleep before the entire cycle started over again. This went on for months until I met the future Mrs. Craft who picked up a ragged man and his two beautiful daughters and saved us.
Money was tight. I had to implement a budget that was strict and very sacrificing. When it came to luxuries we did without television and my cell phone plan was cut to a bare minimum. I tried my best to conserve electricity by barely running my heat or air at all when we were home and not at all when we weren’t. Dining out was not a possibility so I made all of our meals. In order to save money on food we shopped at lower grade grocery stores. We bought food in bulk and when I hear the commercial where the man speaks of a ‘Ramen noodle every night budget’ I reminisce because that was us. Our money was limited and there was no room whatsoever for needless spending. Diapers, toiletries, food, gas; these are necessities that add up to significant costs when you have no money. We sacrificed things that many people take for granted, but we were able to make it work.
By doing without luxuries, conserving energy costs, shopping at lower grade stores, buying cheap foods in bulk, and cutting costs at every corner we were able to make our little family survive through a time that I look back on now as a minor hardship. What I love most about this is that my children do not remember what it was like. I do. They look back at that old apartment that we had and still to this day love it. It was hard. It was not fun. It was tiring and challenging, but my children were happy. In a time when we had very little, their joy was enough for me to live on as we scraped by with what we had.