A few gaps in my kids education are due to my divorce. A few are due to my bout with depression, while struggling to recover from job loss and mid-life disorientation following 9-11.
One of the sad symbols of my loss was my old toolbox. And what leaving it behind meant for both me and my son, who should’ve been building forts and projects with me by his side. And as we’ve gone along in the fractured mode, there are huge gaps in my knowledge and relationship with my kids. It’s something you don’t really understand until you’re well into the process. Or maybe you do understand, and that’s part of the huge sadness of divorce.
When I pick up my kids from school on Thursday it will have been seven days since I saw them, hugged the, really got to check-in with them. There are so many moments that are missing. So much information and growth they experience in the custodial home, and they return to me as slightly different, slightly more mature individuals. I too am changing. We all do the best we can.
But the gaps… the gaps are maddening.
My ex-wife gave me a handful of photos last week. All scenes that I had no recollection of, of course, because I was not at the beach trip. I was not a part of that biographical memory of theirs. Even when you try to show up for every event, and give them all the attention they can stand, after divorce there are still the maddening gaps.
Like my son learning to shave is mustache shadow with a women’s razor. What? A cat my daughter is holding, that I’d never met.
I have a lot of gaps in my relationship with my dad. After the divorce he chose to exit the scene, for the most part. He curled up into his alcoholic choice and married another drinker. I never wanted to go over to his house with his new wife. I learned not to get in the car with him. Ever.
Of course, my kids have nothing like that, with me. And my ex-wife and I have done everything we could to keep any disagreements between us not color the relationships with our kids. And that’s fine. We’re doing a good job of it. And still… Still I am not getting enough time with my kids. And I am sure they are not getting enough time with me. We’re all fine. Everything is wonderful, except for the gaps.
And now they are both in middle school. 4.5 more years and my son is off. The gaps are beginning to add up. I am certain they don’t know much about me. I try to share everything I’m doing, but they don’t really have the time. They’ve got homework, music, sports, friends. It’s fine. It’s my problem. I get it. I’m riffing here, a bit, but I’m ever more aware of the missed days. And tonight, for no reason, I’m wishing I could just tussle their hair and tell them that I love them.
We’ve got texting. We used to have Facetime. But things are busier. And the routine check-in is about all I can expect.
And the gaps… I’m sorry for the gaps.
The Off Parent
back to Single Parenting
- Evolving Single Dad: Failure to Hopefulness Again
- What I Need To Tell You: Take Heart. It Gets Better.
- Happy Mom Chat About How I Got Here: What I Figured Out
- Creative Parenting and the Gifts of Enthusiastic Participation
image: kids away, the author, 2014 all rights reserved
Our kids keep telling me things that concern me. The top of the list is “she never picks up” referring to your newly distant approach to receiving phone calls from your kids. Not my calls, I could care less about me, ignore me all you want. But the kids SEE YOU GLUED TO YOUR PHONE. They see you texting and talking with everyone, they see you interrupt conversations to check your phone. So when you “don’t pick up” they get the message. Something is more important than them. Wait? What?
Is something more important than a phone call from your kids?
A friend, the other day on Facebook, took some time to give me a moment of insight into what she thought was going on with the ex-y and her angry behavior. The concepts she shared have stuck with me.
- She did not understand your language. She did not get you.
- She knows what she has done and she is ashamed of her behavior. Anger is a way for her to cover that up for herself.
- Your kids will eventually get the truth about what happened. And they will see how you fought repeatedly for your marriage. She knows this will come back around.
So is this blog like a loaded weapon pointed at my ex-y’s dignity? Even with the anonymity, is she threatened by my blogging? I can see how this material, mostly The Hard Stuff, is impossible for her to imagine. I’m also assuming she doesn’t read me, though she does know about this blog.
So to her, The Off Parent is like a loose tooth and a time bomb all at the same time. I don’t have any plans to unleash this material on her or the kids. But… and I guess this is a big one, I imagine at some point in the distant future, my kids will read the book, or the poetry, or whatever this material turns into. But didn’t Bob Dylan’s kids know he wrote Idiot Wind about their mother?
As adults we explore our past and our parents in new ways. I am not writing this to my ex-wife or my kids. This is a testament of my own journey, my own reconciliation with myself. And while the content has shifted away from divorce and onto “what’s next” I am always jarred back to reality when some of the crazy divorce stuff happens.
Already I know this is petty, but…
Sure, she might have been in the shower. But this woman is glued to her phone. And all I was looking for was an update on our daughter, who had an injury last night. This passive aggressive shit has got to go. 37 minutes for a check-in? Am I being petty? Oh well. Frustrating.
The Off Parent
< back to The Hard Stuff pages
- The Divorce Library (reading list)
- Songs of Divorce (free listening library – youtube sourced songs)
- Laugh It Off (building a resource library of funny videos and other diversions)
- Facebook (follow us on Facebook and keep up with all the conversations)
- The 5 Love Languages (a book on love styles by Gary Chapman)