Nearly three years on I must admit the divorced Dad thing is still challenging at times, though I continually attempt to be aware that however hard and challenging it is for me, it's probably harder for A and K.
A wise man said to me the other day that the only constant thing in life is change. It makes sense, though he wasn't that wise as he had a bit of a bogey hanging out of his left nostril and didn't realise it. Note to self; when dishing out words of wisdom check nose for stragglers beforehand.
One of the many things that surprised me was the dynamics of my relationships with A and K, how things have changed and are still changing. Before the split A (the now 15 year old) and myself were always particularly close and K (the 13 year old) was attached to her mother. It was never a problematic thing, just that A and I had a bond of sorts, both playing the drums, sharing a similar sense of humour and being similar in many mental characteristics.
A natural selection process had evolved and A and I would do many things together while K and her mother would do the same, so natural that I'd never really paid much attention to it in a conscious way.
Then post split, I was in the position of seeing the girls on Wednesday evenings and on alternate Fridays until Saturday evening. It's the way these things pan out and it's ultimately what I chose, so I'm not moaning to you, but sometimes it's fucking hard for a parent. Like a little piece of your soul has had to be removed for the greater good.
I've never wanted to be a once a week type of Dad and so I try continually to maintain contact on a regular basis. I call them, I text them and generally make every effort to keep things as fluid as possible. But that's not the answer because, while things in the post divorce life progress and move on, the life of a teenager also does.
I call, they answer and talk in monosyllabic, sometimes even less, tones. I text and I occasionally get a response. Interraction on facebook is frowned upon by K, while her sister is too cool to even let me be her Facebook friend. I try my hardest to remain as constant as I can in their lives. It's what I figure is best, to try to give the message that their parents are divorced but are still their parents, that I'm still their Dad, no matter what.
Those moments that I took for granted, lying on a settee casually watching some crap TV with A sitting on my legs or washing up after dinner and dancing to Maybe Tomorrow by Orson have become treasured and rare. I guess the wallpaper of constant contact with occasional outbreaks of non contact has changed to one of constant separation with occasional outbreaks of contact.
For most of the time I've been aware of a problem but not known how to fix it; the issue of time alone with each of the girls. One of the biggest surprises was that all my time with the girls was exactly that; with the girls. It wasn't just A and I, chilling for a bit and doing nothing much, nor was it K and I doing the same, it was the three of us together. It was and is fantastic to get time with them, even with all their teenage hormones and girl drama present, but different.
But, with finite time anyhow, how does one engineer a bit of time without one of the sisters being present, something that used to take place naturally without seeming to have a negative impact on anyone. I came to the conclusion that I couldn't, that it was better to see them together than to try to change things.
On top of that, over the three years, the relationship between K and I has grown and got closer through a series of circumstances that I'd prefer not to go into now. Sorry about that, it's a bit weird I suppose. Old RD telling you just about everything but not that little five per cent. It's peaks and troughs, positives and negatives, but I'd prefer a straight line, as long as it's at the height of the peaks.
So, after much rambling, I've got to the main point, which is that I've been looking for ways in which to re nurture my relationship with A without detracting from my relationship with K whilst working within the confines of the limited time we get with each other.
You may be pleased to know that there appears to be a speck of light at the end of the tunnel and I don't think it's either a train or a blow torch. Which is good.
In recent weeks there have been two or three times when it's happened and it's filled my heart with that joy of a pleased parent. It's no big deal, just like how Neil Armstrong would have felt if, after landing on the moon, he'd scored the winning goal in the World Cup final and, while falling asleep that same night had come up with a way to travel faster than light in a tri shaw.
Yes, A has called or texted me, asked if I'm at home and then popped round. She's then turned up, mooched with me, chatted about rubbish, had a bit of a laugh and raided my fridge. The talk has been about everything but nothing, the laughter has been over stupid jokes, kind of like we used to do.
I'm trying to stay cool, to remain constant and not engage too much.
But I am pleased. Sometimes only time can help these things. We try desperately to invent solutions and find answers and the passing of time goes and does it all for us anyhow.
That's my news, what's yours?
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