The general mode of life with dad is positive and happy. I am *so* happy to have them on the days and nights I am afforded, that there is little room for complaints or nagging.
It's not uncommon for the dad to be the big "player" in the house. I continued to wrestle and chase and hug-hold-squeeze my kids with abandon and intensity. Perhaps at some point, I was using that affection to replace what I felt was lost between me and their mom. Still, we sailed along as a family, doing the best we could.
For me, most of the time and energy has been redirected towards being a great dad and being present for my kids above all else. I'd like a relationship, and I'm still casually working the online dating options, but I'm not in a hurry.
We were both hungry for more time, more head pats. And that's a feeling I still ache with as I watch my children sleeping. Even when they are with me, the knowledge and feeling of the coming loss, just a day or so away, is painful.
So we don't really have a word for what we "are." I don't like dating, so I'm not dating her. She doesn't like the idea of a long-term relationship so we're not doing that either. Do we need an easy handle on what we are forming between us? No. Is it more convenient if you are able to say, my boyfriend and my girlfriend? Maybe a tad better than my lover, or my life-mate. But please, we're splitting hairs. Do we like to be together? Yes. Are there things we like to do together besides fool around in bed? Yes. Then do that. Do all of that.
Take one step back the next time you want to overly defend your son. Take one breath before rushing in as he's dealing with issues. Give his little spirit time to develop. (Even with less of your "inspiration and help," he will get there.)
The two of us have been through a lot already. We've jumped through some burning hoops to see the next layer of protection being stripped away. We are pretty close to the pure joy of finding time together and knowing that we will enjoy the company of this other person until something else comes along.
Suffering under massive financial hardship due to the initial divorce decree can be important for your survival and ability to thrive in your new life. Sure, you're going to court, but you had to do this in some form before to get divorced, and if it's absolutely necessary, at least make it as non-confrontational as possible.