Things in the new ship have been a bit rocky. Fun, but we’re talkin bare metal and exposed wiring. For starters, the old farty dog has a bad leg so when he poops or pees he simply walks back and forth in the filth until you clean it up. You often need to wash him as well. And the cat, though he has a clean and available litter box prefers to find his own places to poop and pee. We’ve been through this on the other ship. Not sure what his problem is…
And a few things have already broken down. But that’s par for the course, as this is a nice house, but not a very modern house. After the first use the dishwasher spilled it’s soapy warm contents all over the floor of the kitchen. The repairmen arrived and almost laughed as they opened the old GE. It took them 3 minutes to report back, “This one’s too far gone to repair. We’ll get back to you. This landlord is usually pretty good about getting back to us on these. We’ll get you another unit. That was last week. The new dishwasher was approved but has not been installed.
As the kids arrived we’ve been enjoying the proximity to their mother’s place. They keep dropping by for stuff. It’s always nice to see them. A bonus! And they can walk or run between our houses in about 10 minutes.
I dreamt of this setup back as we were in the earliest phases of the divorce process. I was still living in the house. I was committed to finishing out the school year before leaving the house. And in these strained times, I often made conversation with my soon-to-be ex about “maybe we should reconsider.” She would have none of the ideas, but I chatted along anyway. So, in this dream, I suggested we not get a divorce at all. I’d just move out and get another house, a little bit away. The kids could circulate easily between either house. We could all benefit from the proximity of each other.
And today, I think I’m just about there. My dream, five years ago, of having a house near my kids and their mom is now a reality. We’re divorced. But we could be entering the closest time in our relationship. We’re not there yet. The child support payments have just kicked back in at 120%. And I wanted to text her today, “A rising tide benefits all boats.” While things have been tense and rough from time to time, we’re still really only looking out for our kids. We’re both invested in their great lives. We have our own struggles to deal with, but our kids are what’s next. They carry our ambitions and our fears. My ex-wife and I are both doing our best to give them confidence and resilience in all areas of their lives: emotional, mental, and physical.
And the journey has had some unexpected twists and turns. The little blind dog has recovered much of his bounce when he’s roaming free in the backyard. He no longer has to fend off the big pitbull mix. He can’t see or hear, but he can smell. And as he wanders around you can tell he is looking and smelling hard.
Then we hit a cold snap and he had to be kept inside. It was a near-complete disaster. He pooped and peed and walked around in it. It was not working. He was stinky, cranky, and probably humiliated in his shameful place. But even in his disgrace, he shows his old spirit. He’s trooping along with us. Maybe not as a full crew member, but a member emeritus that we all love and hug as best we can.
And it seems to me, a lot of the time, as a divorced family, that’s what we are doing. Our best. For everyone involved. Even the exes deserve happiness. I still root for my ex-wife. I do hope her relationship is the one and that he speaks a love language that makes hers resonate.
We’re still a bed down. But I told the kids as we were getting ready to load into the ship for the first time. “I think we should take a little bit of time getting stuff for the house this time and not just get crap because we need something cheap. It might take us a bit longer to furnish everything, but we’ll get nice stuff.” They agreed. And the first run to Ikea for a bed was a complete null sum gain.
The funniest part: We drove out in my 4-door coupe. (Ikea always seems to be on the other side of the earth.) I needed to borrow a car for the run, and I’d just forgotten and driven there with no possible way to pack in a bed. I laughed. “So this is more of a shopping run.”
And, in fact, we walked all over the store and didn’t see a single bed that was interesting to my daughter. And we were going to buy some new sheets but the lines for check-out were insane, so we bought cinnamon rolls instead. The kids ate them, I only got one bit. Even my daughter is interested in my fitness.
But probably the most spectacular part of this opening montage of our new journey, the co-pilot seems to have arrived. And when she says, “I’m planning on sticking around.” I get the idea that she’s serious.
The last time I moved into my own place, I did not have any help. The new ship is filled with her things. Wow. Her energy is here even when she is not. I know, it’s still early, but she’s got a great attitude and approach to getting stuff done.
So while the crew has had good and bad days, we’ve all come through them. We’re rounding the corner on the third week.
Captain’s Log: Monday, February 24, 2015. The daughter arrives at my cabin door knocking loudly. She wants her hair flattening iron. “I’ll go get it,” she says, unsuspecting. (We’ve got both cars in the garage tonight because a deep freeze is expected.)
“I’ll get it,” I say, heading up the stairs. Laughing as I open the master bedroom door on said copilot put my fingers to my lips. “Shhh.” At this point in the story, the copilot is a “known friend” to the kids. But that’s as far as it goes.
I return to my daughter and give her the iron. “Love you, sweetie.”
“Good night dad.”
Back to more strategic planning and chart mapping with my copilot. The air is good and a bit chilly tonight. But I’m hoping for us to get iced in so I can snuggle a bit late. A few of Texas’s nice features. Any ice at all usually shuts down the schools and then you’ve got to take a kid day. Well, I don’t have my kids tonight, but if it ices over in the future at some point, they can sled down the hill from my ex-wife’s house and get hot cider here.
*image: my daughter and her puppy, Leo
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Have you read the entire series? Click below for more exciting episodes.
- Single Dad Seeks: Dating Again After Divorce: Advice and Strategies on Learning How to be Loved Again
- Fall of the House of Dad: My journey through divorce, from loss to joy, again and again
- A Good Dad’s Guide to Divorce: One father’s quest to stay connected with his children
- The Third Glass: When Drinking Becomes an Issue
image: Spaceship, frank mccarthy, n.d., creative commons usage