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
As things begin to pick up for me again, both emotionally and financially, I still get this twinge of anger from time to time about the woman who lost confidence in me. Often there is one person who does not want the divorce (the dumpee) and the person who initiates the divorce.
And the spark of pain, that I occasionally still have to acknowledge and let go of, is SHE decided long before I did that she was done. When she toyed with “maybe a separation would help me,” she had already talked to a lawyer. I was still solid as a rock that we would get through this. We had been through so many trials of the spirit before, this was a chance to set some of our emotional connections right. That was my delusion.
It was November of last year, that I sent the last, “If I could change anything, or start over with someone…” email. She demurred. She was not interested. But what that letter did for me was release every last option in MY control. And when she passed, I was free to really explore dating.
It didn’t work out that my aggressive get-out-and-fk approach didn’t really work for me. But I did let her go on another level when I saw myself actually having sex with another (a different) woman. Some core sexual thread was released back to me. I was still not sure that I wanted it back. I am still attracted to most of her physical qualities, her smell, the way she dresses, her smile.
But she is not attracted to me any more. She moved on within weeks of the final divorce and began sleeping with a plumber who caught her eye. WOW, now that was bold, or way off, you’d have to ask her. But it was at that time that I was so happy we’d put the “six-month dating before introducing to the kids” rule in our parenting plan.
She didn’t want to try separation. She was trying a way to ease me out of the relationship She was looking to greener pastures. She was giving up on me. That still stings. All the money we now put into TWO homes have made the economics much more stressful.
That final stage of release continues to happen. And I find myself looping back into desire for “what was.” It’s not for her any more, but the idea and memory of the wonderful times we had. And the loss every single time I drop my kids off and won’t see them for 5 days. OUCH! That I never wanted.
Today, I can say my dreams of reconciliation are more about getting my kids back. She’s not available to me. She’s been with her BF for almost a year. He’s met the kids. And even if she asked tomorrow, admitted her mistake, I know that I would say “No.” She was emotionally distant the entire relationship She didn’t know how to connect with deep feelings. It was never safe for her to do so with her mom and dad.
So we move along. We grow. We challenge what we knew about relationship, what we think we know about physical and spiritual attraction. And now we move in different directions. And that too is good.
The Off Parent
< back to The Hard Stuff pages
- Easier To Be Quiet
- You Know They’re Watching You, Right?
- The Divorce Whisperer
- Of Course You’re Not Happy With Me, We’re Divorced
- 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)