Archive for November, 2009

Thankful for the little things
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It’s a rainy, overcast day. The time is five o’clock; rush hour; cold and unusually dark. It looks and feels like nine o’clock. Small drops still mist onto the windshield, forcing the need to squint through wipers at the red glow of the holiday congestion. Those not coming home from work, drive to a destination for tomorrow—Thanksgiving. The weather is colder than it has been, closing in on the forties; the average being twenty degrees warmer. But it’s always cold come Thanksgiving; from shorts and t-shirts, to pants and jackets; overnight.

The ride home reminds me that, although I have a new family to spend the holiday with, my divorce arrangements leave me without my son . . . every Thanksgiving.

Home at last, the walk up the sidewalk and to the stairs of my condo are marred by overzealous lights decorating the neighbor’s house across the street: dancing icicles along the roof, a wall of bulbs across the garage, glaring lines beside the landscaping, and a twenty foot tree from more conspicuous strands. All but the icicles pulse to the Christmas music blaring from his yard. This spectacle—on display for the past week—continues for another month and screams each night until just after eleven o’clock.

It’s all just another reminder that this time for family is fleeting. A mere blink in the moments we have together; or, in the case of my son, apart. I try to stretch out the time with family and the time to be thankful. I fight off decorating for the next holiday until the current one has passed. But even I’ve succumbed this year.

The jostling of my key in the door causes it to open from my fiancé, eager to greet me. As we hug I see the tree I bought and that we decorated with my son. My compromise to create tradition for a time I normally don’t have him—our family tradition to decorate the day after Thanksgiving.

But this year looks to hold more promise. I jumped the gun with our tree, because improved communication between his mother and I has allowed us to hold true to that tradition. We have him the day after Thanks giving. And as luck would have it, my parents have a tree void of ornaments. It may seem silly or trivial, but I have much to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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A glimpse into the other half
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An interesting thing occurred today. I had a bit of an epiphany—a glimpse into how the other half may live. And by other half, I mean my previous wife. I can’t take full credit for it. I was lead there by my future wife. That’s right; I’m engaged now, and planning to marry early next year. I tend to stay guarded about these aspects of my personal life, so this may come as a surprise for some. I’m about to head off on a tangent though, so I’ll have to write about my engagement another time… for now, back to my epiphany.

Being divorced with a child means shared custody. Two households, two different parents, being raised two different ways. Those who may have read previous posts might realize that communication is the key in a circumstance such as this. But it doesn’t always mean there is a united front. Let’s be real, there are two households for a reason.

Of course, there is history, and in many cases harbored animosity (I’m sure I’m alone here *wink*). So that distance allows for misinterpretation. I know I love to speculate how things may be with his mother and her household, especially when I can allow for it to explain the new behavior in my 2 ½ year old. I’d mention this new behavior to his mother and hear her describe how she tries to counteract it, dismayed as it mirrors my own actions. She can’t be doing it right, I tell myself, Certainly she’s done something that caused or warrants this new behavior.

And that’s when my future wife brought something to my attention—the epiphany. I was drained, having just dropped off my son. The last several hours of our time together had been very trying. As we drove home, I pointed out to her how he was acting once he knew we were taking him to his other home. And she simply said, “I’m sure his mom has difficulty disciplining him when he comes home from our house.”

Then it hit me… He is difficult for me during the transitions. But as they get closer, I always receive calls from his mom where he’s been acting up. It was like the curtains were momentarily pulled back so I could actually see into this other household. She does experience the same thing we do. As I marinated in this thought, another one hit me just as hard. These different new behaviors he exhibits as he gets older are just that, new things he’s learning and tries; new to me and new to his mom.

Perhaps this seems simple and obvious, but for many parents in separate households, it becomes easy to blame the other parent for your child’s behavior. It’s important to remember your child is a person too. Look at how to guide your child appropriately and seek the help of the other parent. Remember, they’re seeing this too, and while you may think it came from their house, they may be thinking it came from yours.

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Changes as Colby is getting older!
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Changes as Colby is getting older!

Colby is now approximately nine weeks old. At times, it seems like just yesterday that we were at the hospital expecting his arrival, and eventually having him in our arms. And other times, it seems like he has been here forever! It’s a weird adjustment between the two. In one aspect, we have things totally under control, knowing exactly what to do, and have everything in order for him, and all is going perfectly. On the other aspect, we are limited in the things that we can do. For example, we are no longer able to just jump in the car and go somewhere. But, then again, if we are able to make preparations, we can still do things. It’s an interesting feeling. And more changes are coming.

Colby’s mom, Shellie, is just about three short weeks away from going back to work. Things are definitely going to be changing as Colby is getting older! He’ll be going to the homes of his two grandmothers while we’re both at work. This becomes more interesting as he’s in such a developmental stage and we don’t want to miss anything. He’ll also be transitioning more from breast milk to bottled baby formula. We are glad and very pleased that we’re able to leave Colby with his grandmothers. But at the same time, we know that we will be missing out on things as he continues to develop and get older. While my wife has been able to stay with him for her 12 weeks of maternity leave, she has essentially been able to be with him all the time. The exception being a few times in which we were able to leave him with the grandmothers, and the few times I was on Colby duty so that she could go out to do things. It will likely be a bigger change for my wife, than for myself. But I can still relate, as I had to go back to work after my five days off, and I knew at that moment, I wanted to stay home with him too. There are many changes that are going to be taking place here in the next few weeks, and as Colby continues to develop and get older.