Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | February 5, 2012

Time keeps on slipping slipping slipping…

“Time, time, time
See what’s become of me
While I looked around
For my possibilities…”
–Paul Simon

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.

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Responses

  1. I think this was the best possible outcome for your situation. Thank your lucky stars.

    One more thing…

    Holy shit, you blogged! Props my dear, props. I missed it, and umm… Let’s Skype soon, wtf.

  2. I agree with IntrigueMe, you really came out of this with a great outcome, all things considered. You are rebuilding, you are adjusting to the no-time-ness (as much as not having time sucks, I am sure!) and are moving forward. That is awesome. And you are allowed to be a little cynical, I think we’ve all experienced that before, I know I have, but then it starts to wane and you build up some renewed hope. I’m happy to hear from you, friend!

  3. I hope the next blog includes all the intimate details of your new and exciting DATING life. Yeah, I know….you already said you have no time. But you did leave a cliff hanger and hey, a girl can dream, right?
    Anyway, sounds like things are actually going quite well for you. A “well-paid” job, good kids, a bed without Penny. Yes..VERY well, indeed, my friend!

  4. I think many ex-husbands experience the time crunch you are experiencing. I also think many of them solve it the way my ex-husband did: they become ex-fathers, for the most part. By that I mean he sees the kids for a sleepover every other weekend, and then hands the kids back over to me, sharpish.

    He doesn’t bother attending any of their sports events, plays, or concerts. I go to Parent-Teacher nights and all other meetings alone. My ex remarried one month after our divorce was final, and now hIs life has is almost child-free, while I have taken on more parenting responsibility than ever. He does pay support, and I hope he continues to do so. It seems he’s bought himself out of the time crunch by paying me, his ex-wife, to do all the parenting.

    I think it’s admirable how much time you devote to your children. Your children will cherish all the time you spent with them. In a little while, your kids will be running a vacuum, loading the dishwasher, and washing loads of laundry. Even if they’re really little now, you can set a timer at the end of the day and do a “Two Minute Tidy” race to pick up all the toys. It’s amazing how quickly multiple hands can pick up a big mess. Kids like to help, and if they get used to “clean and tidy,” it will become a preference for them.

  5. Ummm…. yep. I hear you on ALLL of this.

    Glad all is well, despite the busy-ness. And so happy to see you blog again!

  6. 😀
    Glad to see you blog again – it *has* been a while. But then, it’s been a while for me, too…at least on this blog. I hope to post something soon, though.

    Hope you can make some time for yourself soon.

  7. Am SO impressed by your ability to get along with ex AND do it all. I am exhausted for you. Glad you’re back 🙂

  8. Wonderful to hear you are blogging again! I was sitting there thinking, “hmm.. I wonder how ‘itneverrainsinseattle’ blog is doing, and bam! There it is!

    I’m really glad that you shared your experiences as I begin to understand why some couples fuse back together ‘for the kids’ in spite of differences amongst themselves. I was looking into foster parenting, but realize the time, energy, and responsibility is very draining without additional help.

    I think it also admirable that you blog, at all. It is tough to write about our experiences, and I’m really glad that you do. Not for us, but for yourself as I find it’s a cathartic release of pent-up-thinking.

    I hope you continue to share your day to day mullings. We find them interesting!


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