Just when you think you’ve got things sorted…
Things were settled. We are co-parenting with a 50/50 split on our kids time. Well, I say co-parenting; we are parenting separately and sharing essential information about the kids, but it’s the best we can do for now. I was starting to plan out my year, was starting to get to know someone who interested (and was interested in) me, and even started looking at city breaks and hobbies. I had 183 days to look forward to, after all.
Then life reminded me that it wasn’t that easy.
My eldest daughter and her mother never really got on. Whatever the reasons, they clashed constantly over everything from an early stage. My ex expected instant and unquestioning obedience on everything, while my daughter was described by others as possessing “exceptional leadership qualities” (i.e. she questioned things she didn’t agree with). Combine some weird mother/daughter clash thing with a genetically passed on ability (probably from me) to argue effectively and be stubborn and, well, fireworks constantly flew.
This was manageable for years as I was around to balance things out. I dealt with all of the challenging discussions with our daughter as she simply didn’t react the same way when I spoke with her and backed up my ex when needed, though I then often in private told my ex when she had been out of line herself. I mediated and moderated, while encouraging my daughter to evolve and refine her leadership and critical thinking skills.
Fast forward to today and things are obviously different. They still clash, with the added issue of my daughter now being a teenager too. And without me there to mediate things it apparently escalates rapidly and wildly. That was bad enough to make things fraught over the last year to say the least, but my ex has added a further issue into the mix by starting to introduce her boyfriend into the kid’s lives.
For newer followers, this boyfriend is both the person she had an affair with (thus ending our 18 year marriage) and is also someone 16 years her junior. This puts him barely seven years older than our daughter, which she is distinctly uncomfortable with. Unlike her siblings (two of which are also uncomfortable with things to a greater or lesser extent) she is old enough to vocally share this discomfort, and has decided that she no longer wants to live with her mother.
In short, I am now pretty much a full-time dad once again.
On the one hand this is great. I would give anything – ANYTHING – to be a full-time, 24/7 dad and have my kids living with me all the time. From the moment I found out I was going to be a dad it was all I ever wanted to do; it still is. Even having one of my four with me is lovely, and is allowing me to spend some one-on-one time with her during a tricky time.
However, there is a part of me that is ashamed of being selfish and feeling a little upset as well. After a year I had finally got into a proper routine and started to enjoy my adult time. I might not have been going out as much at the moment as when I was on dating overload last summer, but that was an active choice, leaving me time to reflect, repair and grow. That’s now going to be a lot more difficult.
I’ll now need to be back at home every evening to cook dinner. I can’t invite anyone back to mine for the evening. I can’t play loud music at night, nor walk around in my pants when I can’t be bothered to get dressed on a Sunday morning. No sitting on my sofa watching Question Time getting drunk on cognac and shouting at the tele. And no popping out within seconds of deciding to go out on the weekend.
Admittedly, this is a temporary arrangement for a few months, to see how things go and to work out a way to repair things, but with my ex showing no signs of splitting up with her toy boy it’ll be tough to work out how to make progress. I’m never going to force my daughter to be somewhere that she hates and, whilst I’ll not accept or support her disrespecting her mother, it’s difficult to challenge my daughter when I not only understand her issues but agree with them.
I read many stories on many blogs about how hard it is to date as a full-time parent, and it looks like I’m about to find out first-hand if it’s the same for me. In the first couple of weeks this has already meant I’ve stepped back from one person I’d seen a few times over the last month and a half, and have also stopped chatting with someone else who could’ve been a lot of fun to meet. I’m sure I’ll find a way ahead, but in the meantime I’m having to concentrate on the “dad” part of being a single dad.
There are worse things to be.
We (my husband and I) were in a similar situation last year, where his ex (Mom) and the daughter were just not getting along. There were many discussions about the daughter moving in with us permanently. It didn’t happen because mom would not let it happen due to support payments (she pays Dad some money each month in child support). That being said, we had worked out an arrangement where IF the daughter moved in permanently, she would be required to spend every second weekend with Mom, regardless of how she felt about it. While my husband loves his children and did not want to ever be a half-time parent, he has realized that he needs his downtime on occasion. As well he believes that his 14-year old daughter is too young to not see her mom, regardless of their issues. Perhaps a similar situation – even if just one weekend a month when all the sibs are at mom’s house – would be a good way to start, to give you some breathing space and to also ensure daughter & mom continue to work on their relationship.
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I think that’s the only way ahead of us; as you say, it’s the bare minimum so she stays in contact with her mum more and I can breathe.
Thanks for the comment!
It’s funny, how even though we are in two totally different situations, I had the same concerns/thoughts about all the things I couldn’t do now that I’m going to be a mom. No more dating (for a longggg time), no more sleep til, like, FOREVER, no more privacy (which I LOVE)…. and then, then you think about all of the amazing moments you will get. This is such a pivotal time for a young lady in her life, and it’s amazing you will get to be there for her. And–in just a few short years she will be gone, out of the house, and you will be longing for these days back.
So yes…. temporary discomfort but for a lifetime of love and happiness in return, I think I’ll accept it 😉 good luck!
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Thanks! I’ll need some luck!
I totally agree; I’m going to spend the rest of my life wishing I could relive the very moments I’m living now, so I need to be present and grasp every second.
One day, after all, will be the last day my children hold my hand as we walk along the road. I need to get all those things in now, while I still can!
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