I walked into a rarely visited cafe this afternoon, wasting 30 minutes prior to a meeting at school, and saw my 7yo sitting at a table with her Mom’s boyfriend. The two of them were sitting and doodling on a newspaper cover, eating brownies and a bagel with cream cheese while sipping on large hot chocolates (yeah, nice dinner, eh?)
My initial reaction? The same as my reaction ten minutes later: completely neutral. I’m not thrilled with the food, particularly given that I try to keep my daughter’s diet gluten and dairy free as per the request of her mother, but otherwise, it’s a clear sign to me that I’ve completely let go of any last vestiges of wishful thinking about a reconciliation.
The very idea fills me with a sense of horror only equaled by — I’m sure — Linda’s similar feelings were the discussion to arise. 🙂
On the other hand, as recently as a few weeks ago, my oldest mused thoughtfully about Linda and I reconciling and somehow making things work, and for that I do feel a bit sad. It’s one thing to know that I’ve moved on in my life and am busy creating the best life I can for both my children and for myself as a single man, single dad, and professional, and it’s another thing to imagine the daily experience of my children wishing that they were with both parents simultaneously, not one or the other, back and forth, bing-bing-bing.
Mitigating this — and I think I’ve written about this idea previously on my blog — I really do believe that children pick their parents and my children, for whatever karmic reason, chose to have Linda as their mother and me as their father, even knowing that we’d divorce and have a turbulent go of things for years thereafter.
The original title of this blog entry was “letting go of the dream” but as I wrote it, I realized that would have been a bit misleading. I have long ago let go of any dreams of a post-divorce reconciliation and remarriage.
In fact, I let go of any dreams of a mutually supportive, happy future with Linda years before we even separated. Our relationship definitely fell into a dark place well before we pulled the proverbial trigger and went our separate ways.
Now I can smile at Linda’s new boyfriend and actually feel a bit of sympathy for him, marvel just a tiny bit that he can not only deal with her but that they seem to work well together. A better man than me, Gunga Din, and good luck to him.
In any case, as he walks out of the cafe with my girl all that I feel is a sense of relief that I made it through the gauntlet of a difficult last few years with the all-important relationship between my children and I not just intact, but actually far stronger and deeper than it ever was when we were all in a single household.
I think ultimately it’s the interpersonal version of making steel in a forge: the challenges that my children face will make them stronger, smarter and better adults, more prepared for both the positive and negative aspects of adult relationships.