Experiencing the Trials and Tribulations of being a Single Father One Day at a Time
Author: Robert A. Calkins
I am a 43-year old single father to two wonderful daughters, Elaina (9) and Gabriella (7), and an Army Officer stationed at Fort Campbell, KY. When we are not at home tending to the girls' cafe, baking in the kitchen, and singing along to Disney movies, we are playing in parks and learning in children's museums, zoos, and aquariums.
While I was deployed to Romania, I decided to get my Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC) certification, which I am about halfway through completing. As part of gaining experience hours to achieve the certification, I started a financial blog called Finances at the Fort (www.financesatthefort.com). Although this was meant to be completely separate from Adventures in Single Dadding, the two blogs were bound to intersect at some point. At the risk getting “double credit” for one assignment and potentially alienating loyal followers, I wanted to share my article on teaching personal finance to the girls. Hope you enjoy it.
As part of my Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC) program, in addition to gaining knowledge to improve my personal financial literacy, I have also taken several classes on how to educate others in personal finance. These curriculums have focused on young people (children), young adults (teenagers), adults, older adults, and even for small businesses (I am absolutely not an expert on the latter, so unfortunately, you will not be receiving any advice on small business finances at this time). While going through the classes, I realized that I could do better in educating my children in personal finance, so I started implementing a program to do just that.
After my three-day mandatory reintegration period following my six-month deployment to Romania, I was going to drive down to Belton, Texas to visit my daughters. They had about two months left of school, but we all wanted to see one other before they came back to Kentucky permanently. I had the list of available activities, all the places we probably wanted to eat, and a clean car ready to receive them. Here is the post about my visit to Texas to see my daughters, an event six months in the making.
Greetings from Kentucky! I arrived back in the States on April 9th, but have been extremely busy since then and have not gotten around to writing. Now that I have reintegrated with my family, friends, and coworkers, visited the girls in Texas, and finally have a little free time, I wanted to catch everyone up on what I expected for my return to Fort Campbell and what actually happened.
This has been a difficult year for the girls and I, as we have never been apart this long. And prior to the divorce, we had never been apart more than a month (curse you, Army training). Even though we are an ocean and most of a continent away, the girls and I have been pretty good about communicating with each other over the last six months. Thankfully, this will all be over soon, and we will be able to get back to our daily routine.
Even though I am deployed to Europe and away from my daughters, there are certainly some benefits to being in a different country, mostly being the international cuisine and travel. As stated before, I am prioritizing saving for my daughters’ college savings account over spending money to better enjoy Eastern Europe, but that does not mean I have completely stayed on base. After going to Greece in October, I have had two more opportunities to get out and see a little more of Europe on the Army’s dime.
Every year, the girls and I have our little tradition on my birthday. We go out to a restaurant (we all have to agree), pick out a cake at the supermarket (with buttercream frosting; absolutely no whipped frosting is allowed in our home), and for the girls to pick out presents for themselves at the store. This has evolved into a very fun tradition that we all look forward to. With me being deployed though, just like our Christmas cards, it looked like it might not happen this year. Thankfully, their Mom was very supportive of my request and kept our annual tradition going.
While I did not think that I would be able to provide much of an update while overseas, the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) building had a non-government computer that allowed me access to the site, so I wanted to send out a quick update. Last time I wrote, I was headed to Romania or Poland with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), ready to proudly serve my country overseas once again.
Upon arriving at Fort Campbell, I expected to deploy immediately to Europe. As soon as I found out this was going to be delayed by two months, I communicated with the girls’ mother to have them visit the week before school started. Not only were they extremely happy to see their Dad again and setup their new rooms, but they were very excited to see the Fort Campbell area, where they would be living in a year’s time.
After closing out my duties, handing over the house, and outprocessing my unit, the cats and I said goodbye to Fort Huachuca and headed East towards Kentucky. It was a two-day drive for me, but since the Army allocated five days for me to travel, it made all the sense in the world to stop in Texas to spend a few days with the girls.
My last post was a little over two months ago and it was written just after I had arrived at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. To say a lot has changed since then would be an understatement. While I have been extremely busy since I got here, even sometimes working over the weekends (mostly self-induced), part of why I have not written is because it is likely going to be my last post for quite a while (pending the few I have in the hopper). As was always a possibility in my profession, I am going to deploy soon, and will not have the time, connectivity, or material to write while overseas.