Received a text this morning from the boys mom informing me that they will be heading out-of-state to visit a friend for quick weekend vacation. Not sure if it was the way it was presented, how I read it, or just the unexpected nature of it but the note tore into me. I wasn’t left mad or angry, but knots filled my stomach and questions swirled in my mind. And I had no immediate answer to why … ?
Could be jealousy. Even after two years of separation and multiple relationships of my own I still find I am jealous of her with someone else. Of course, I expected it. Have known about it. And felt I had dealt with it. I am happy she has someone, though have to admit I still hold grudges towards aspects (but that is another story). However, the name she included as who she would be visiting was new, and no one I had ever heard of before. This left me wondering, is this someone new? Or is she just hiding a trip with her ‘other’ from me? Honestly, it smelled of that latter, but I was only left with my conjectures at the time – and that, I know from experience, is not a healthy place to leave one’s mind for long. It would be futile to chase answers to most of my questions, yet I was left unnerved by the few details and late notice provided.
Whisking the boys away on a last minute adventure sounds fun, but for the parent left behind it can be gut wrenching. Not knowing who would be accompanying them, who they would be meeting there, or what they will be doing … it leaves only worry and concern as the mind swirls trying to fill the gaps. Is this going to be a safe trip for the boys? Is it going to be safe for her?
This is where I stopped myself and took a break for lunch. I stepped out for some air walking along the path leading around a small lake just outside the office building. There, underneath a tree just out of reach from the beating sun, I sat. I slowed my mind down. I remembered why I thought she was the perfect one to raise a family with. She is smart. She is loving. And she will do anything to protect the boys. So I sat, meditated on that, and searched for what else could be bothering me.
Is it that I could be missing out? The fear of “missing out” or “being left behind” has been the largest mental obstacle I have faced since separation. And this trip fits right into my horror story of the kids, their ‘new family’, and being replaced as dad. However, this last year has proven to me that my kids are not looking to replace me, and that there is no way I am stepping back from being their Dad. And … while I may be missing out on this adventure, we have been on a few adventures ourselves. In fact we just returned from a weekend outing a couple weeks ago. Even if this does happen to be a trip that I have been wanting to take with the boys … it doesn’t mean we won’t take a similar one in the months ahead, and we will find a way to make the trip very unique to us. So I am not really missing out, I have my own plans.
At the core of this is our communication, or lack there of. From that I think the biggest thing is a lack of respect between us as partners in this parenting space. We are constantly complaining about how the other is responding, reacting, or demanding. It is the arms race, a cold war of sorts … and we heading down a path of destruction. I could fight back, rage on the technicalities. Yet, at the end of the day what is that going to do but put more landmines in the path of my own future and create more drama in the lives of my kids.
So I reside myself to the concerned parent, so just want to know the kids will be in a safe place and request that they bookend their travels with a call or text to me so I don’t worry. I smile at the thought of my kids getting a chance to see new sites and try their hand at new skills.
Yet, I hold fast to the condition that I be treated as an equal in this partnership. And if we cannot find a way to work together, I do know we are working to a similar goal … so I will continue to make choices that I feel are right for the boys, for me, and for our lives.