My son is gone half the time.
But he’s really gone more than that. Because he attends school or daycare during the day while I sit in a cubicle plotting my escape from Corporate America.
Our time, so precious.
He turns six in two weeks. He is beautiful. Both smart and smart-mouthed. Stubborn. Hilarious. Sensitive. Loving. Innocent.
A casualty of the poor choices of his parents.
I am a person who craves rhythm and routine. Not boringness, certainly. But predictability. I have a hard time finding comfort in the unknown.
Logistically—by that, I mean everything unrelated to emotion—this has been the most-challenging aspect of divorce.
Finding the rhythm of life again.
It still eludes me.
My son is here two days, then gone two days. He’s here for a weekend, and not the next.
Many divorced fathers don’t see their children as often as I see mine. I suppose gratitude might be in order. But I don’t feel grateful. I feel cheated. This is not what I wanted.
I focus so much of my thinking and feeling and writing on the loss of my wife and the pain it caused. The pain has at times been unbearable because my marriage ending represented the first time I had ever loved someone more than myself only to have that person ultimately say: “I don’t love you. I don’t want you. You don’t matter. You’re not good enough.”
I write it a lot because it’s true: When this happens to you, some part of you dies. Maybe it comes back to life someday. Fingers, crossed.
Just as painful in a different way is coming home to an empty house, with a couple of my son’s toys scattered in the living room, or his toothbrush and comb laying by the sink—only he’s not there.
There is a semblance of balance when he’s home. There is almost none when he’s not. And all the back and forth, and up and down creates a see-saw experience in which I’ve yet to find sure footing.
Assuming the pain of divorce eventually fades to the background, my young growing son—and his life experiences—will emerge as an even greater focal point.
I want to protect my son from the horrors of this world.
But I also want him to know the truth about the human experience to protect his heart and mind from the shock and awe of adulthood.
I want to shelter my son from the mistakes of his father, as I was sheltered from the failings of my parents.
But I also want him to avoid the colossal disappointment which inevitably comes when your heroes fall unceremoniously from their pedestals.
I want to save him from the pains of being a child of divorced parents—and that includes protecting a more-mature him from whatever emotions he might feel should he ever read his father’s words.
But I also want him—maybe need him—to know who I was. Who I am. Who I will be. Just as I want you to as well.
Some people will care. Most won’t. But this is my “I WAS HERE” scratched into life’s maple tree.
How much do I tell?
Writing and parenting.
It’s a dance. A delicate one. And much like life, I still haven’t got it figured out.