Picture having 3 rambunctious little boys, ages 5, 6, and 8, while dealing with diabetes and in a less than thriving economy. Some would take bets on whether the extreme exhaustion or diabetes (aggrivated by stress) would take you out, but neither has taken 32 year old Carl Torrence out just yet. He awakens every morning to the pitter patter of six little feet, complicated schedules, cooking, cleaning and the overall joys and perils of fatherhood. He’s a regular modern day Mr. Mom – only there’s no Mrs. Carl is a single father who has been raising his boys since they were only 1, 3 and 5.
Carl has been separated from his wife for almost 4 years and divorced for a little over a year. Initially, the boys stayed with their mother but a month after the separation his oldest son started acting out.
“My oldest son started acting out. She couldn’t handle it so she sent him to live with me. Two months later, the other boys came to live with me, too. She often times would say that she didn’t want to be a mom.”
Because Torrence grew up in a broken home himself and was raised by his father, he always knew that if he and his ex-wife ever separated or divorced he would want his children.
“I was raised by my father and I used to tell my ex-wife that if something happens between us, they would live with me.”
However, Torrence decided to leave his very young children with their mother initially because he didn’t want them to suffer and he didn’t think he could properly care for his children at the time. Not to mention that he never saw his mother when he was younger and didn’t want the same for his children.
Carl admits that he had a really tough time taking care of his boys. He was selling real estate in a terrible market and he couldn’t afford day care for his 1 and 3 year old. He lost his job, his house and had to obtain government assistance just to feed them. He moved them to a fixer uper that didn’t even have heat, nor did they have beds. Some nights they slept in a tent in the living room and he told them they were camping so they wouldn’t know the reality of their situation. He didn’t know what or how he was going to do it some days, but he knew he was happy that they were all together.
When I asked Carl why he just didn’t get a divorce at that time and then make her pay child support, he said that he was afraid of losing his kids.
“This is a woman’s state and I thought they would demand that I return my kids to my ex-wife, even though she didn’t want them in the first place. Most women are vindictive. When they get mad there is no telling what they’re going to do and I didn’t want to lose my kids.”
Because my husband is currently experiencing parental alienation (usually women are the alienators), I was curious to learn whether or not Carl has ever felt as if he’s alienated his children from their mother and he responded with an emphatic NO! He also said that he never says anything negative to her or about her to his kids.
“I never pushed her away. My boys love their mom, but right now they need her to be something she’s just not, and I do all I can to create that person in their minds. I told my ex-wife that the door remains open for her to come back into their life and they will be accessible to her as long as they needed her.”
When asked about dating, Torrence admitted that he would like to date, but said the woman will have to be VERY special if she plans to interact with his boys. He doesn’t want his sons around any old type of woman.
“I don’t want to just date any kind of woman, he said. She must be goal-oriented, not married and love kids. These boys require a lot and I need to know that she can handle what she signs up for.”
From soccer practice to grocery shopping and from cooking to cleaning, Carl is redefining fatherhood; proving that some men love their children just as much as women do and instead of running away from their responsibilities, they are running to them!
“My job as their father is to prepare them for life; for the things that I know are coming and for the things that I don’t know are coming. I will do all I can to be the best parent I can be to make sure that they grow up being well-rounded young men.”