“Time, time, time
See what’s become of me
While I looked around
For my possibilities…”
Hello. Remember me? It’s been a while since I posted to this blog.
I’m a father of three young children. I’m 43 years old, albeit not for much longer. A couple of years ago, my wife and I fell on hard financial times; we ended up losing the house, and our family business hasn’t fully recovered. And as all that was playing out, I came out of the denial that our marriage was irretrievably broken. This was nobody’s fault — there was no villain in this drama — but our marriage was dead, and it had started killing me (probably both of us) on the inside. The story of how I agonized about the decision to face facts and move forward is recorded in the previous entries of this blog. Plus the story of how I blew out my knee while all that was happening. And a good friend of mine died of cancer. All-in-all, a pretty rough season in my life.
So, what’s been happening since then?
I know I’ve remarked previously about how my relationship with Penny is very much the same post-divorce as it was during our marriage. We continue to work very well together as co-parents; we continue to handle our remaining entangled financial matters as partners rather than as adversaries; and we continue to talk about politics or science news or other mutual interests. We also continue to never talk about our feelings with regard to each other, or about our former marriage, or about any other aspect of our past.
A mutual friend of ours has been dating another (much younger) fellow grad from our alma mater, and this friend recently posted on Facebook news of their engagement. Penny relayed the news to me — she knows I haven’t been spending much time on Facebook lately — and I wasn’t sure how to respond. As with any relationship that spans multiple decades and thousands of miles, my relationship with this friend (and Penny’s relationship with him, too) has many layers. While I do sincerely wish him and his bride-to-be all the happiness in the world, I’m a little too jaded and cynical at this point to expend a lot of effort thinking about it. And that’s pretty much how I responded to Penny when she mentioned it. It is the most I’ve said to her on the subject of marriage — any marriage — since our divorce.
Likewise, the most she has said on the subject to me was an aside about how some of our mutual friends here in Seattle have been withdrawing from her. She expressed how this had been a difficult year for her, getting divorced and all, and that it felt like her friends didn’t seem to be all that concerned about it. There was much more to that conversation, and about her relationship with these friends, but my point is that one off-the-cuff reference to the divorce. That’s it. For all that we continue to talk, both about the minutiae of child care and the grand sweep of the cosmos, the topic of “us” remains just as unspoken as it did during our marriage.
[I'm not complaining about that, by the way. Quite frankly, right at this moment, I have no desire to pursue such a conversation. It is interesting to me, nonetheless, that this dead zone persists, and likely always will.]
But for all that things remain the same with regard to Penny’s and my relationship, that does not mean that our lives are the same. Far from it. One thing that has changed is time.
As in: I know I never used to have much of it, but now it seems to be gone altogether.
In the last year of our marriage, I would help with the kids in the morning, drop one of them off at school, then go to work myself, come home, help with the kids, do some laundry or some sundry chore, put the kids to bed, then Penny would go to bed, and I would watch maybe some Craig Ferguson and then blog for an hour or two.
In the year since our separation and divorce, I generally have two kinds of days: days with kids, and days without kids. Kid days work like this: I get the kids ready for school and myself ready for work, I get the kids to school, go to work myself, come home, get the kids, shuttle the kids around to and from their various activities, take care of nothing but the kids until its time for them to go to bed, make sure the kids have done their homework, read to the kids, take care of all the chores for that day, collapse from sheer exhaustion, and then start the process all over again the next morning.
On non-kid days, it’s go to work, work late because the work needs to be done (and given the shortage of work I experienced a couple years ago, I’m not inclined to say “no” to my employer on kid-free days), come home late, collapse in front of the TV, do all of the chores that I didn’t get caught up on during the Kid days, collapse from exhaustion in my bed. Repeat.
When you live with your co-parent and you are both active parents, as Penny and I have always been, then you are always on call *but* you are only really *half* on call. When you don’t live with your co-parent and you have evenly split custody, you are only on call sixty-percent of the time, but you’re all the way on call during those times.
Wait, I hear you say. Sixty percent of the time? Not fifty percent? Yes. Because there’s parent-teacher conferences, recitals, and sporting events that you attend regardless of whether it’s *your* day with the kids. Oh, and doctor visits. And so on. And on those occasions, you don’t sit back and watch as the other parent wrangles the kids; of course you help. Because you’re a co-parent. That’s what you do.
Likewise, there’s the chores. When you’re living with your significant other, you split the chores. When you are living alone (half the time with your kids), you have to do all the chores. Oh, and this is true for both households. Penny has to do a week’s worth of dishes and laundry and vacuuming and picking up toys and so on and so on every week, and so do I. Because the kids make the same huge messes in both houses, you have to cook all week even if you only have the kids half the time, and you have to do all the dishes, too. And the raking (or lawn mowing or driveway shoveling, depending upon time of year). Two houses means twice the chores.
Two parents doing twice the chores they used to and a combined 120% of the parenting rather than 100%… you can see how time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future. I suppose that as my kids get older and more self-sufficient (and even able to contribute to the chores), I may find it easier to decompress after a day’s work and even get more time to myself in the evenings. In the meantime, I need to figure out how to better work my schedule now. I suppose I’ve been in a retrenching mode for a while now. But it’s time to start pulling out of this.
So there it is, my friends. My little treatise (read: whingeing) on why I don’t seem to have any time these days.
In my next post, I’ll tell you the rest of the story as to why I don’t seem to have any time these days…
PS: Yes, my single mommy and single daddy friends, I know you have it worse than I do. I know. And I feel for you. I am truly blessed to have such a good co-parenting relationship. But, then again… just because Christopher Reeve was a quadriplegic, that didn’t make my knee surgery last year any less troublesome.
PPS: when I talk about being cynical about marriage, I don’t mean you, Shannon. Nor you, DelightfulEccentric. You and your paramours give me hope.