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Posts Tagged ‘divorce’

Happiness 101

The happiness quotient is in play. At least for one-half of the former couple that was once married and shared a life.

Divorce does strange things to relationships, especially when there’s a couple decades of history strewn over the trail. We survived 20 years of marriage, two children, and the count-the-slices-in-the-loaf-of-bread-so-we-can-ensure-                                    we’ll-have-an-adequate-food- supply-until-our-next-payday days that served as the foundation to the beginning of the marriage.

So my ex is on her road to happiness. The giddiness comes through the phone during our infrequent calls as well as through the conversations shared with our two children who bounce back and forth between homes – hers and mine. The new guy is moving to town. He’s taken a new job very close in proximity to where she works. And while all this makes me happy – happy for her, happy that her life is back in a semblance of order after a broken marriage created at my hand, I’m also a bit…on guard for some strange reason.

In contemplating the protective shield that I feel going up, it seems to stem from the fact that there is someone on my home turf, experiencing time and moments with my two kids, spending the night in the home I bought and continue to remunerate even now. I feel a harsh, covetous edge from time to time along with a sense of relief. Very odd.

What am I worried about? That I care? Both my children are old enough to know that I’m their Dad. Even through the worst, I’ve always been Dad – never absent, never the vanishing parent. I provide, I nurture, I mentor, I care, I love like I always have and always will.

But that ground, I suppose, is uneven since the divorce. There’s been, and likely always will be, a drive to make sure my turf as parent can’t be taken. While they may mess it up, no one else is allowed on it. And as it becomes encroached in this very subtle way, how can I not put up the shield and dust off the “Beware of Dog,” sign?

I’m happy the ex is happy. It’s one step closer to healing the devastation. But just as one page seems to turn, another unfolds and keeps the collateral damage assessment fresh in my mind.

-end-

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Here’s a truth: Kids will be kids.

They learn to play the situation to their advantage. It’s human nature to play to the strengths and weaknesses of those we have relationships with and kids are the experts – because, in many cases, they want the “normal” that they lost in the divorce back in their lives.

Who can blame them.

When I left my marriage after 20 years, I wanted that normal aspect of my kids’ lives to remain in tact. I only removed some personal belongings from the home they’ve known most of their lives – some clothes, a couple pieces of furniture that came from my Mom. Everything else stayed in place by design. In the process I made sure the kids’ Mom could keep the house that had no value to me, but immense value to her and the kids. Stability. In the meantime, I established a home not far away where each of my teens have their own space. It’s no frills, but comfortable. They are taken care of, by many measures, better than a lot of children get taken care of by parents who reside under the same roof.

But, I think, in the two years since leaving that marriage, I’ve painted a false image of what “taken care of” means to me in order to accept the simple fact that I broke up my home and family.

The kids want to know they’re loved, at the end of the day. They want to be happy and not feel weird about having conversations with each parent about who’s job it is to pay for a prom dress, or whether or not a computer is going to get fixed so it can be used for school projects, or if there are enough clothes in the closet to wear to school. These are just simple things that should be automatics…givens…in order to ensure issues don’t pile on the other REALLY important kid issues of the day.

Teenagers face so much in their teenage lives. Peer pressure, teachers who don’t give a damn, puberty, emotion, and an innate desire to just want things to fit in with the crowd. Sometimes going unnoticed is bliss.

Each day, as a parent, it’s our duty to our kids to express that inordinate, unconditional love that proves to them normalcy can exist no matter what situation they find themselves in…even if just for 10 minutes a day.

Who doesn’t want that?!?!

-end-

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