Today is the kids’ day with their dad.
It feels strange to say that. I’m not sure how to refer to him at this stage of separation. Saying ‘my-husband’ suggests marital partnership, which has ended; but we are still married, so ‘my-ex’ doesn’t really apply either — also, it sounds contentious, which we’re not; ‘my-kids’-dad’ is too damn long and awkwardly detached; ‘my-future-ex’ isn’t funny. I’m stumped, and I sometimes stutter to find the right title for him. Perhaps, today, I’ll make up a title. Maybe it should be The Dindo — it’s a funny word my 2-year-old says for doorbell. Every time we come home, with my arms full of the day’s crap, and my 4-year-old daughter blocking my path, my son will inevitably ask, “Can I ding the dindo?” This would require me picking him up to reach the dindo. So, no. No dindo. And as charming as it is, it’s charming only in hindsight because he asks at precisely the most inconvenient moment, every single time. He never really gets to ding the dindo, but I still giggle every time I think about him asking if he can, and then immediately feel guilty for denying him that simple pleasure. So, there we have it. I’ll call their father The Dindo, as in: that thing that happened, that, in hindsight, is no longer as terrible as it once was, but is still burdened with emotion.
So, again, today is The Dindo’s day with the kids. His scheduled and planned days with them are always Sundays. During the week, he sees them as his grueling work schedule allows, but weekends are a sure shot.
During this transition, his time with the kids is always spent here at our house, with some field trips. They eat here, play here, he’ll sometimes sleep here to be present for them during middle-of-the-night-bed-swapping. It’s good for the kids to have their father in their home. It keeps things consistent for them, in this unsettled moment in their lives. It shows them that mommy and daddy are still a team — still a family — no matter what. Most importantly, it makes them happy. Despite the marriage failing, we try very hard to make sure the kids don’t suffer, and we’re committed to maintaining normalcy. Not to say that it’s always awesome — we still have to work together when we aren’t aligned on certain things; we still have to navigate the same space when he’s here, which is tricky after a break up; and we don’t have to put up with each other’s shit in quite the same way, so I don’t get to lecture him as much as I used to (read: want to). And, for me, there are still emotions that overtake me sometimes: sadness, anger, frustration, a desire to stick it to him but good. But in the grand scheme, the kids’ happiness and well-being are the only things. The Only Things. So, I’m happy we can still do this, and I realize that I’m glad that he’s The Dindo, rather than some other guy who wouldn’t make healing in his presence so possible.
This morning, I got to sleep in because The Dindo spent the night in the guest room and got up with the kids. I walked in to their breakfast already in progress. I got to leisurely enjoy my coffee and start my day with giggles and tickles and kisses and smiles. I puttered around the house, nibbling food, checking my sourdough starter, my new worm bin (more on those in another post), all at my own pace. I snuggled with the kids in my bed, with no planned conclusion. I was happy. Not because we were all together, like a Rockwell painting, but because I was relaxed. I got a break. I saw the kids as the joy they are, and not the tasks-to-be-completed that they seem to be during the week. The weeks are such a jumble of time and to-dos that I get overtired by week’s end because I’m doing it all and all by myself. So I become a jerk to my kids. Even though those precious souls are quick to accept my apologies and hug and reassure me, I’m sad about the time I wasted being ugly.
So it’s nice that I get to see them here, when The Dindo is responsible for the hustling and cleaning and correcting and chasing and feeding. It’s a joy to have them in my space while I’m refreshing and regrouping, able to just soak them in without looking at the clock or picking up toys. It’s not only imperative that the kids have The Dindo here in their home, it turns out it’s life saving for me too. I would be crushed if I lost them to their dad’s house on the days I’m most able to enjoy them. Breaking up sucks. I’m so relieved we didn’t break up the home.
Do you want to know the truth? This isn’t the post that I sat down to write. It took a turn right after the very first sentence. I’m glad about that. Today, the emotion that has overtaken me is gratitude. I think I’ll go lift up the boy so he can ding the dindo until his heart’s content.