We tore up the 50/50 schedule that I brought into the counseling session. We started again with the SPO and the non-custodial rights and responsibilities. And while I gave up a huge piece of my "dad time" that day, I've never stopped working to show up for my kids at every opportunity afforded me.
Keep the love of your children in your heart and mind and forgive even the egregious actions of your ex-partner. The most important conversation you can have in your relationship…
Sitting around that table, telling 15 people I'd just met about how I hoped to make it past 9 am on the next day, was a liberating experience.
I wish my co-parent all the joy and love in the world. I can no longer provide any of those things. But I can be a soft cushion when she needs to hit or collapse into something. I resolve not to hit back. But, I won't stand-in for the drama anymore. I will only take my responsibility. I will only pay attention to the business between us as we continue together in co-parenting.
When you ignore your kid's messages and voicemails you are giving them a very powerful message about their priority in your life. There is nothing you can say afterward, the exasperation has already taken place. This is never a happy response, "I don't know, I can't reach her and she's not responding."
I'm watching my kids grow up from a distance, and it's painful. Sure, I have the standard possession order, the simple divorce equation for 80% of dads. But we're getting the raw end of the deal. Actually, divorce is the rawest end of the deal, but once that's determined, the only thing you can do is hope for maximizing your time with your kids. Still, it's not enough.
Still, I'm not sure where her playful person went. I was offering new ideas while I was also trying to accommodate her "clean house" and "stable bank account" requirements. But I don't think she ever put a LOVE LIST together.
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.