Joe McCampbell's son

Joe McCampbell's son, Ty, holding the "Sesame Street" plush toys his dad got him for his fifth birthday.

Time flies when you’re a dad.

My son, Ty, turned 5 last week, but it seems like just yesterday he was born. There was one major similarity between his fifth birthday and his day-of-birth – a major snowstorm.

For Ty, the snow was actually a good thing. For one, he had a snow day from school. Second, it prolonged his birthday. His party was scheduled for Feb. 2, but due to the storm, it was postponed a week.

This delay gave me extra time to decide I wasn't going to attend his birthday party. Before you grovel and question whether or not I’m a good dad, let me explain why.

In my defense, I attend every event my son is involved in. A little more than two years removed from my relationship with his mom, however, I’ve decided it’s best to do things separately. Below are my reasons.

I’ve never been less involved in his life than I am right now. It’s sad, but true. I have Ty on Wednesday nights and every other weekend. It’s not exactly ideal, but with a minimal amount of time, it’s difficult to be as involved as I would like to be. I attend all of his other events, but in terms of pure time with just him, this is the least amount of time I’ve ever spent with him.

It hasn’t always been like this, though. Prior to the start of his mom’s new relationship, I saw my son whenever I wanted to – even though we had a parenting plan in place.

With the current state of being, I want to maximize the time I do have with him. Trying to vie for time with him at his birthday party isn’t my best bet, so in turn, I thought it would be better to do a separate party with my family on a night I had him. Last Wednesday, my mom and step-dad took us to dinner and Ty opened his presents from us. I was elated when he loved the "Sesame Street" plush figures I got him.

It meant more to me for him to open them with me since his parties can be a bit hectic and I didn’t want to get lost in the shuffle. It may seem selfish, but taking my lack of time into consideration, I think it’s a valid concern.

This past Christmas was celebrated separately and it worked out well. I don’t think celebrating his birthday is any different. Both days are important and, in my opinion, Ty being able to spend them with both of his parents is what matters.

My approach to parenting Ty isn’t to compete with his mom. She’s a great mom and I’m thankful for her being there to help me raise our son. My goal is to show Ty that no matter what, I’m always going to be his dad.

Whether he’s 5 or 50, I want Ty to know I love him, regardless of my attendance at his birthday parties. After the party is over, I’ll be able to look myself in the mirror and still think I’m doing a good job of being his dad – despite my limited time with him.

Isn’t that what matters?


Joe McCampbell is a single father and the online operations coordinator at the Omaha World-Herald.

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