Experiencing the Trials and Tribulations of being a Single Father One Day at a Time
Author: Robert A. Calkins
I am a 41-year old single father to two wonderful daughters, Elaina (8) and Gabriella (6), and an Army Officer stationed at Fort Huachuca, AZ. When we are not at home tending to dress-up, tea parties, and baking in the kitchen, we are off hiking in canyons and learning in children's museums, zoos, and aquariums.
Three years ago, I started this blog to ensure that I always put my family first and focused on being a great Dad to my two daughters, Elaina and Gabriella. Only reinforcing what I stated in this blog’s first anniversary post, if that was the only goal, this endeavor was a resounding success. Not that I necessarily needed the encouragement, but it always helps to keep yourself grounded and constantly evaluate how you are doing as a father, for better or for worse. Looking back through all our adventures over the past three years, the Calkins Family has been through a lot and we continue to drive on with our heads held high.
While the second goal of this blog was to “to inspire and give hope to other single fathers out there,” I never dreamed of the positive effect that it would actually have. In the past three years, at least half a dozen newly single fathers have approached me for advice, guidance, and support. While each of their situations is different, they reached out to me after reading my posts, seeing in-person how my girls were fully involved in my personal and professional life (and vice versa), and how I was able to always put my family as a priority. While a few just needed someone to talk to that had been through similar circumstances, others needed clear advice and positive support so that they and their children could get to a stable footing. Regardless of how they got to that situation, single parents need positive reinforcement: Things will get better and putting your family first is always the best course of action. I hope that this blog will continue to be an inspiration for other single parents who are going through similar trials and tribulations.
Thanks for checking in on us and sticking with us for the past three years.
Halloween is back at Fort Huachuca and the girls were excited as ever to go out trick-or-treating on post. With the Trunk-or-Treat event happening right next to our house and the girls getting the hang of “efficient” trick-or-treating, our last Halloween on Fort Huachuca was sure to be one to remember.
As stated in previous posts, the last two months have involved me working towards choosing and securing our next duty station, and it has been busy for me and little stressful on all of us. It involved me staying up late researching and writing emails, spending far too much time on the computer (which the girls did not like), and growing very concerned that we were not going to get an assignment that we wanted. Thankfully, everything worked out in the end, but we are all a little exhausted from the experience.
We are always looking for routine activities to get involved in, but recently the options have been less than stellar for the girls and I. They are both lukewarm on getting back into soccer and Gabriella changes her mind daily on if she would prefer karate or gymnastics; I think Elaina would excel in volleyball or basketball, but she just has no desire to play either. So obviously Horseback Riding was the next logical step…
Every weekend, before we go to the commissary, I always ask the girls what they would like to eat for the week. While this usually results in responses such as Burger King or Chipotle from Gabriella, Elaina knows that this specifically refers to home-cooked meals. The follow-on question for Elaina is “What do you want to cook / bake with me this week?” Since she has advanced quite beyond macaroni & cheese and chocolate chip cookies, the possibilities of what we can make together are expanding exponentially. This week she wanted to make tamales, and since it seemed challenging and was new to me, that is exactly what we did.
The girls’ school, Colonel Johnston Elementary School, held their Curriculum Night a couple months ago and we were excited to attend (sure does let you know how far behind I am in writing; you will get a full post about why later). While called an Open House back in my day, it was a chance to meet with the girls’ teachers and to see their classrooms. As always, a great time was had by all and the girls are excited to be school in again.
Last week the girls and I went to Pajama Night at Cochise Theater on Fort Huachuca. They just started holding these events again, and with Paw Patrol: The Movie as the feature film for the evening, the girls were pretty excited to go. I will freely admit that I had never seen a single episode of Paw Patrol before and I figured it was just another cartoon turned into a full-length film. I was absolutely not prepared for what I was walking into when it came to my brain and overanalyzing my daughters’ cartoons.
Now that the girls have been back for a month, we are finally getting back to our usual activities. Pajama Night at Cochise Theater on Fridays. Arts & Crafts on Saturdays. And Bowling and errands on Sundays. Last week the girls wanted to drop by the Fort Huachuca Arts & Crafts Center to paint some more ceramics. Given that it is still a fun, cheap, and safe activity that provides hours of enjoyment, peace, and quiet, you know I was in.
The girls “recently” started school at Colonel Johnston Elementary School on Fort Huachuca. By “recently,” I mean that they started class almost a month ago, which just shows you how far behind I am with writing. Life continues to be extremely busy for the Calkins Family (not hectic, just busy), with schoolwork and activities keeping all three of us extremely occupied. Elaina and Gabriella were still very excited about school and look forward to the coming year.
After a productive yet semi-depressing Summer, Elaina, Gabriella, and I are finally back together. It was difficult for all three of us being away, but now they are home and we are ready to tackle the rest of 2021. First and Second Grade? Too easy. Delta variant? Bring it on. New job? Child’s play. Everything is easy if we do it together as a family.