Househeld

Last night, the mother of my kids signed the lease on a new apartment and moved ten minutes across town. Now it’s up to me to take over all the responsibilities of running our family home, which we had lived in together for ten years.

Because I was the one who asked for this in the first place and we worked collaboratively on a plan to make it happen, feelings aren’t as bent out of shape as they might otherwise be. But it’s still a big change! And one that won’t really be fully understood until it is experienced, I suppose.

The most promising aspect of this huge transition is that it’s an opportunity to start fresh and figure out who exactly I want to be. Anybody who spends a long time on a rocky road of a relationship, and anybody who is run through the wringer of adapting to parenthood experiences a certain amount of identity erasure. In some cases it’s survivable. In my case it was for a while, until it wasn’t.

But I am someone who thinks super-long term about things. And so while I don’t regret a single day of the last decade or so, I also know that as my kids grow up, their needs will be quite different in the decade to come. They will look at their mom and dad and see more of who we are as people rather than just thinking of us as protectors and providers.

If we don’t know who we are, or if we’re not happy with who we are, or we’re not excited about who we’re going to become in the years to come, then our kids are going to pick up on that. And what kind of lesson would they learn from that?

It is that question that kept me up at night for far too long.

So who do I want to be, then? It’s still an open question to explore, but the rough contours of the path are already known. Being a good dad is a huge part of it, but now I get to do that in the way I think is best, rather than worrying about what somebody else’s opinion on that idea is.

But I also will have a lot more time each week, during the 3.5 days where the kids are with their mom, to forge a path through life on my own. Right now the only things that are certain about that time is that there will be a whole hell of a lot guitar playing, a ton of time spent cooking for the love of it rather than just out of necessity, and also… as much time as possible spent on deepening my existing friendships and forming new ones.

The rest of it, I’ll figure out as I go.

Mudslide

I spent the early hours of the morning drafting an email that I kept editing and editing until I realized that no amount of editing would put me at peace with what I was trying to say, and so I discarded it instead.

Did that decision leave me feeling any better? It did not. But it did at least remind me that I get to make my own choices… that I don’t need to be driven mindlessly by my emotions even when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

Lost and Found

I want to write more. And I want to find my voice, which I lost ages ago.

The only way I can make sense of myself is by writing words that others can see. A private diary never worked for me.

So let this be a small step onto a whole new road.

Yesterday, I drove for the first time in, I don’t know, six or seven years? I wanted to see if I remembered how. I wanted to make sure that in a pinch, if I had to put two kids in a car and roll away to someplace near or far, I could.

It went… fine. It was just a 15 minute excursion along the winding shoreline roads, out to the lighthouse and back, but it felt like freedom and it felt like progress and it felt like the melting away of certain fears that held me back for so long.

I am at this point determined to face all my demons, and so far it has left me scratched up and bruised but also hopeful… even as the world around me burns.

For the last few days, I’ve also been fighting a Japanese Maple tree. So far, it is winning every battle but I believe I have a shot at winning the war. Trying to build up strength, I’ve been hanging from its branches. Wrapping legs around it and shimmying upwards like a sloth, until muscles twitch and I drop.

I wish this tree was in my backyard rather than right out by the sidewalk, so that I wouldn’t get side-eyed glances from people walking dogs and babies on these lovely spring days. Sometimes I have my kids come out there with me because it looks a little less strange when it’s a dad having fun with his kids rather than just some weirdo in a silent war with a tree.

But I also have been taking double doses of Don’t-give-a-fuck lately. Life is short and wild and weird and messy and all these things that perhaps we wish it weren’t but it is anyway… so we might as well just be what we’re going to be, right?

That said, I see a world around me with struggles that are so much deeper than my own. So much more severe and so much more serious. But for whatever reason, I am unable to bring myself to do more than send some money to places where it may help, listen and learn, and signal boost where I can. It feels lazy to stop there, but I haven’t figured out the right next steps yet.

Although I will try to find a way to do more for the world, this isn’t the space for that. This is the space where I’m trying to figure myself out. For whatever reason, that feels like what I need to be doing right now, and so I will keep pulling at the thread until the whole sweater comes undone.