And suddenly the children are grown-up

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The realization came from one moment to the other, even if it was to be foreseen for a long time. It's like "suddenly it was night" or "suddenly it was winter". It was to be expected, there were clear signs, experience actually taught me. Still, it surprised me, which amazes me very much.

How did I come to the surprising realization that my children are grown-up now, i.e. all adults? I don’t know exactly, in any case it didn’t happen in direct contact with my children. I haven’t seen my children for months because due to the current travel restrictions due to Corona (COVID-19), mutual visits have unfortunately not been possible for a long time.

I think it happened in a conversation with Oliver, my coach from the circle of men. I can’t remember the exact content of the conversation, but Oliver said the following: “Your children are grown-up now, sooner or later they would have moved from home anyway and gone their own way!” I remember this sentence to this day.

A sentence like many others that have come up in this conversation. But this sentence in particular set my thoughts in motion and generated feelings. At first I was very confused and felt slightly offended. In my ears, Oliver’s sentence had the quality of “You are gradually becoming implausible!”. Of course he didn’t say that and probably didn’t mean it, but still I perceived it that way.

Later the feeling of confusion subsided, instead I felt lightness and freedom in myself. It wasn’t immediately clear to me why I felt this lightness, but now I think I understand.

This sentence catapulted me out of the circle of separated fathers and straight into the circle of the others, the completely normal fathers. This sentence said: “It’s over!”. The sentence somehow pulled the basis for this blog from under my feet.

When my children moved to Hamburg with their mother in 2011, my daughter was 14 and my son was 8 years old. Like most children of that age, they lived in the care of their parents, in our case their mom. Due to the separation from my wife at the time, I had not lived at home since 2006, but saw my children regularly at short intervals. As a result, I was still largely integrated into family life and did not feel cut off or separated.

It was only when they moved that I was cut off. I wrote about it in several articles and tried to shed light on the various facets of my separation and thus to give help to other affected fathers and mothers.

I was so busy fulfilling and cultivating my role as a separated father that I completely missed how my children grew up over the years. To me they were still my little children who had to grow up without a dad. And I was their separated father who had to get by without them. These roles kept each other alive, they were more or less dependent on each other.

When my children are grown-up today and like many other young people go their own way, then that makes me one of many fathers who no longer see their children every day, no longer look after them regularly and also no longer know everything that happens in their lives. I am now one of the many fathers who look forward to a phone call or the next visit.

It seems to me that I have suddenly become an ordinary father, like my own father, whose two children live about 400 kilometers away from him. My sister and I have lived a long way from our parents’ home for decades. A lot of children do that, it’s perfectly normal. Few fathers have a serious problem with this, and hardly anyone blogs about it.

So Oliver’s sentence removed the role of small children from my script. This automatically changes the role of the separated father. And that’s it then!

My experiences from the last few years are still there. I have experienced, suffered and mastered a lot. The memories of it are very present because it wasn’t all that far back. There is a great deal of knowledge and experience that I can call my own. Which I unfortunately or fortunately was able to acquire.

And I still believe that by doing this I am able to help other fathers and mothers who have to live apart from their children. Those who suffer from the arbitrariness of the other parent, decisions by youth welfare offices or verdicts by family courts. In my opinion, there would be untapped potential if I ended the blog with this.

On the other hand, since my conversation with Oliver, I have noticed that my need to regularly write articles for my blog is no longer there. It now seems inappropriate to me, as if I no longer have the right to do so, which of course is not true.

That’s why I decided to stop writing monthly on my blog. This article is, so to speak, my farewell to predictability. There will be no more monthly contributions that I announce in advance in terms of time and name.

Instead, this fund which has accumulated over the past two years will continue to exist in the future. A fund that can and hopefully will continue to grow, depending on the impulses I get — from life, from my family or my readers.

My offer to all separated fathers and mothers will continue to exist. And it will be even more worthwhile in the future to visit my site from time to time and see what’s new. Not just at the turn of the month, but at any time.

When I spoke to my son the other day on the phone, he told me that he was planning to move to England after his professional training, to live and work there. I was very surprised and had a lot of questions about his reasons. But what amazed me even more: I didn’t mind at all. Whether my flight is from Munich to Hamburg or from Munich to London is not really relevant. For years I have been in the situation that I have to travel long distances to visit my children. So it doesn’t change anything for me.

I think I have behind me what many parents still have to do when the children grow up. When they want to spread their wings and finally take off. When they have fledged.

When children are young, give them roots; when they grow up, give them wings!

It’s easy to read, but when your own child stands by the cage door with his/her delicate and not yet very resistant wings and begins to flutter, then a mother or father can get quite queasy. There are also many parents who gild the cage beautifully and equip it with all the luxuries just so that their little bird does not fly away. Who might still give their child wings, but not open the cage.

Both of my children have powerful wings and their cage doors are wide open. They can fly away through these doors, but they can also come back. I watch from a distance how they flutter, sometimes float lightly and now and then flap their wings violently so as not to fall. They take advantage of the thermals that are available to them, and fortunately they have survived all their dives to this day.

I watch them with an open heart and smiling eyes, I am happy about their liveliness and enjoy the great feeling of being the father of two wonderful people!

850 kilometers are no big deal if you go on vacation, but they surely are if you miss your children. Stories from a German father. (www.papa-bleiben.de)