Things change, or stay the same. Or something.

This week my ex-wife has been in the US for work related shizzle. She left on Friday and is due back on Monday which means, for 10 days it’s just me and my children. Brilliant!

But it’s also been really tough.

Now, don’t get me wrong, absolutely nothing about spending time with my children since last Friday has been terrible. We’ve had fun even though we’ve had some illness, teething issues, very early mornings, some refusals to get dressed, the odd bit of bickering, and a bit of upset from T when he’s not wanted to go to playgroup. I find it a compliment to me that, instead of wanting to play with his friends at playgroup, he would prefer to stay at home and play, make train sets, watch a DVD, and just generally have fun at home. This is great. Without a doubt.

What has been tough has been staying at my old house. Living there. I’ve had to do this as my flat is too small to contain my children’s zeal and exuberance, and plus all their toys are here. But what’s been odd, apart from the total general weirdness of it all, is sleeping in a bed I’ve slept in so many times. I slept in this bed in the spare room since K was born in October 2010, when my ex decided that my presence in the marital bed offended her, and did so until I moved out in April 2012. It feels weird.

Gosh I’m so erudite.

It feels like a reminder of something that once was, was not good, and a painful time where I’d analyse what on earth was going wrong, try to find solutions, and no good would come of them. As such I’ve not had the best few night’s sleep. Plus, she’s put four clocks in that room which together tick a beat like something produced by Roni Size and they drive me insane!

The painful, unsettling oddness is enhanced by seeing familiar things all around me, and seeing how some things haven’t moved an inch since I moved out in April. But knowing that I can’t move them or put them away because it’s not my house any more.

Case in point. There’s a thermostatic radiator valve and an adjustable spanner that have been sitting in the downstairs cloakroom since I tried to fix a badly installed radiator fitted by an incompetent tradesman who refused to come back and correct his mistakes, and it’s been there since just before I left. I should put it away in the garage but, it’s not my house any more, and so such things could be deemed as interfering or doing something that doesn’t concern me, and I don’t want the grief for that.

I’ve wanted to clean the windows and tidy up the garden a bit. Hoover my ex’s car and give it a wee clean. Fill a couple of holes in walls created when we removed the stairgates from around the house a few weeks back. But it’s not my place to despite any good intentions behind it.

We have a strange relationship now. We are united, mostly, on what we want for our children, and are on the same page discipline-wise. But outside of that we don’t have anything to say to each other. I’ll look after the children when she has Book Group, see them at the weekend, look after them when she has a night out with friends, but we’re like strangers. Yes, we share something special but prefer not to recognise any of the history behind that.

I think we stopped being friends when we became parents.

My ex is the mother to our children and I will always help and support, however and whenever I can. She’s a brilliant, intelligent and determined woman and I have nothing but total and utter respect for her professionally, as a person and I am proud of all she has achieved. But I’m not sure she feels the same about me. Or ever did. Perhaps it’s been like that since I moved to the spare bedroom all those years ago. Perhaps it happened before. Dunno.

I don’t blame her for this. I know my depression got in the way, and I know that she found that hard to deal with. Found me hard to deal with. But I’m dealing with that aspect of my life now and I feel more positive that I can manage it. I think part of the reason I was so depressed towards the end of our marriage is because I knew it was ending.

I really don’t know what I’m saying here. A load of typical navel-gazing old bollocks I suspect. Or maybe something along the lines of ‘some things change and others just stay the same.’ Or perhaps they’ve always been like that and I just didn’t notice. Dunno.

All I do know is that this time with my children has been special. Very special indeed and I’ve loved every second. There are also other aspects of my life which are so joyous my heart smiles. That’s all I need to know. The rest, the past, is another country. The present and all I have to look forward to in the future is where I live now.

I think I’ll take the batteries out of those sodding clocks for a few days so I can sleep a bit better. Remind me to put them back on Monday morning won’t you?

Thanks for reading.

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20 responses to “Things change, or stay the same. Or something.

    • It’s tough at times. When the children are in bed and I’m sat here by myself having done all the stuff that needs to be done. That’s when I think a bit too much. But the rest of it is fun. Taking them to playgroup each day and walking home with them, hearing about their day is a lot of fun.
      Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. Much appreciated.

  1. My blog post of the week. So well written and thought provoking. There is something so sad about what you have written, yet also so hopeful. You have a talent for writing.

  2. I suspect your wife values your qualities more than you think or else she wouldn’t be so willing to have you move back in and take care of the children. Women can make it very hard for exes to be around if they want to. The trouble with depression as far as I can tell, is that it makes you despise/doubt yourself and it then becomes impossible to believe that anyone else wouldn’t feel the same. Your children evidently adore you. Your wife will see that and realise that you are worthy of them even if things have changed between you and her.

    • Perhaps. But there’s also needs drive to consider. We don’t have anyone else to do the job and overseas travel is such an important part of her job which she cannot turn down.
      Of course, I am being a little hard on myself, and over critical perhaps, but these things feel real.
      She knows she can trust me to look after our children as well as she would if she were here. She knows that I did that for many years while we were together, and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. I’m a good dad, and she knows that.
      Thanks for reading and for commenting.

  3. See, I said gold dust didn’t I? It’s a cracking post Spencer. It must be extremely weird to stay in a place that was yours yet is no longer, to know the nooks and crannies yet have to remain separated from them.

    Sorry to hear that you think you and your ex stopped being friends when you had kids. The problem is that no one ever knows what a relationship will be like once kids come along. Some people get closer, some people grow apart…it’s like trying to predict the outcome of a small baby-shaped bomb going off in your life.

  4. I cannot imagine the sense of imbalance/disquiet being back in your old house in such circumstances.

    There seems to be a true foundation of respect between you and your ex. You acknowledge that the house is now her space. In turn you parent your children together, openly and fairly.

    It seems you are establishing a new relationship. Whilst its foundations may not be what they once were, they are allowing you all individually and as a family to move forward.

    Look after yourself…..& definitely don’t forget to replace the batteries!!

  5. As ever Spencer, a fabulous, refreshingly honest piece of writing. I love that you are getting the time you want with your children, albeit maybe not quite as much but I am sure you make post-playgroup and weekends fun, hence T not wanting to go. I cannot imagine how difficult it is staying in what was once your home, even though I remember you stopped viewing as your home a long, long time ago.

    • Thank you. I did stop viewing it as such because I had to. To get over the stuff that I was holding onto and move on. I think I’ve been successful in that respect. And I know it’s not going to be the last time I have to do this as my ex is off for more conferences in January and next year. Hopefully, then, it’ll feel less weird.

  6. Excellent post as ever. Can only imagine how hard this has been for you and how you must feel not having the freedom to do even the little things you once would have. A wonderful time for you and the children though, they adore you and you’re clearly a great Dad to them. Enjoy the next few days with them. But you really must move those clocks, the torture of a ticking clock is unbearable…

  7. My ex still lives in our old house, and. Really dislike going there, to him it’s his home, to me it’s a museum of the past, tho equally 4 years on some things have changed. I applaud how well you work together. We manage that side well too. Many others don’t. We too are just parents now not friends really. But we did have to have a big chat lately as divorce only just going through which bough up a few issues which fortunately we have resolved by remembering that fundamentally we do trust each other not to be total bastards to the other one! Being grown up sucks at times, but being a parent never sucks (ok-rarely!) and that is my priority- getting that bit right! And I know you do an awesome job at it!

    • Thanks for your comment. We can only try our best, I guess, and if I’m trying my best then I know I’m doing all I can. For the sake of the children.
      Thanks for reading.

  8. A tough situation to be in. I had no idea you was not in your own flat – think I would struggle with that under the circumstances you are in. Keep your chin up, you are there for the kids and from the sounds of things they have taken an awful lot away from this week with you. As for odd jobs – show me a woman who would complain to having things tidied up a bit. After all, a clean and tidy garden is good for your kids too xx

  9. That must be so difficult. I think that it is always hard to return to places that you have moved on from, whether the memories are happy or sad. And how much harder when that is where your kids – essentially little pieces of your heart – are living? Have a great weekend with your kids and, erm, four clocks wtf?

    • Different time zones on each clock. It’s a wall mounted ting with 4 clocks on it and none of them are right, but it’s not my home and so I shan’t adjust them.
      Feels like Woody Woodpecker is dancing on my brain as I get to sleep. And not in a good way.
      Thanks for commenting, and for reading.

  10. Oh, I did not realise that you had been in the spare room so long, no wonder about your depression, it must have been so hard to go through months and months of relationship troubles with a toddler and a newborn to look after as well. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

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