Category Archives: parenthood

Enter…The New Guy

the-new-guy-500x330

You didn’t expect me to post an actual picture of him, did you?

This post should have come much sooner than this, but as anyone who has had a child knows, life tends to get in the way sometimes; that and I wanted this post to be just right.

The New Guy – my second child and me & The Auteur’s first together – was born at 8:06 AM on Friday July 3, 2015 via Cesarean section.  As of this writing, he and The Auteur are doing great.

To put my feelings into words right now seems like an impossible task.  I cannot possibly do justice to all that I am thinking and feeling at this moment.  But I will do my best…

I feel incredibly blessed.  Blessed to have this beautiful, healthy child and blessed to be having this child with The Auteur.  She’s such a remarkable person that falling in love with her was the easy part.  The fact that she and I met at all is almost a miracle unto itself.  That she fell in love with me and was wiling to have a child with me almost defies logic.

In all seriousness, I feel that The New Guy, as with all things pertaining to mine and The Auteur’s relationship is a gift.  One that I  do not – and will not – ever take for granted.

My God, he is beautiful.  The Auteur and I made a beautiful baby together, if I may say so!

Thanks to modern technology, the Auteur and I anticipated approximately how big he was going to be (which, after hearing the sizes of other newborns at our hospital no longer seemed all that out-of-the-ordinary.)  He wasn’t overweight, mind you; he was proportionately big all over, long and tall…for a newborn.  As a result of his size, he came out with a lot of bruising.  The doctors said it was because he was cramped inside the womb.  It was funny, because shortly after he was born, one of the nurses looked at me and said “Congratulations, you guys just gave birth to a two-month old!”

Even on the day he was born, I could tell that he has a very mellow disposition.  Don’t get me wrong, he can belt out a great cry with the best of them, but he seems to take everything in stride.

Being a father is different the second time around.  Not better, not worse, just different.  I feel better prepared this time.  I feel like with The Kid, I was able to enjoy every sensation of his birth and those first few days of his life; however with The New Guy, I was able to enjoy every moment with a different sense of perspective.  I feel like I was able to enjoy different nuances of every moment that I couldn’t even process when The Kid was born 8 years ago.  It is a feeling that is very difficult to articulate.  I suppose it’s like bring in The Matrix:  no one can tell you what it feels like to become a parent, once has to experience it for themselves.    To that end, no one can tell you what it feels like to become a parent once again.  That too, one has to experience for themselves.

This adventure is just starting.  No doubt I will be telling of it more in the days, weeks and months ahead, but one last thought I’d like to leave with:

Just as it was with The Kid, there really are no instruction books on having children.  The moment when we were leaving the hospital to take The New Guy home was surreal.  Sure we had his room, his swing and his bottles all ready for him, but that moment of leaving the hospital and coming home for the first time  with The New Guy in tow – I assume is not unlike the first step one takes when they are skydiving.  We really are out here – in the world – on our own. These little ones don’t come with instruction books.

Not that I didn’t already know that…

 

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The Only Six Words Parents Need to Say to Their Kids About Sports—Or Any Performance | FullerYouthInstitute.org

The Only Six Words Parents Need to Say to Their Kids About Sports—Or Any Performance | FullerYouthInstitute.org.

A Bullshit Mountain Christmas

THE FOLLOWING POST WAS STARTED ON DECEMBER 27, 2013.

a favorite expression of mine.

a favorite expression of mine.

“It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction.”
― Harry G. Frankfurt, On Bullshit

One of my favorite television shows is Comedy Central’sThe Daily Show with Jon Stewart“.  A few years back, Jon Stewart interviewed a writer, Harry Frankfurt,  who had penned a journal-turned-book titled On Bullshit.  I bring this up for several reasons.

  • One:  I always laugh when TV people get away with cursing on the air, for whatever reason. On this particular segment, Stewart must have said “bullshit” 50 times.  FCC be damned indeed.  Yes, I know, it’s immature but dirty words being said when and where they’re not supposed to makes me giggle.
  • Two:  I thought it sounded funny to hear Jon Stewart talk, literally, about bullshit for 10 minutes.
  • Three:  because the author brought up several interesting points when differentiating between lying and bullshit – focusing particularly on the ethical ramifications of both.
  • Four:  And this brings us back to do: Jabba, the queen of Bullshit Mountain, is at it again.

I’m in South Carolina tonight, to take The Kid back to Jabba in the morning following my Christmas visit with him.  This Christmas visit was informative, enlightening and educational – along with an absolute roller-coaster of emotions that I will get into.

Things to keep in mind:  The Kid spent the entire Christmas visit with the Auteur and I, much to Jabba’s chagrin. Both The Kid and Jabba know unequivocally that The Auteur and I are living together. that should set the tone for things to come.

I e-mailed Jabba when I arrived in South Carolina last week to let her know where I was staying and when we would do “the exchange”.   Here’s a snippet:

Rob:  I am in town at the ******.  I don’t know what you’re schedule is like, but if  he’s available, we’d love to have The Kid over for dinner and/or swimming this evening. (this hotel has an indoor pool.

To this point, I had been saying “I”:  I am in town, I am leaving tomorrow, etc.  The Old Man was traveling with me, but Jabba took the “we” to mean someone else had accompanied me on the road:

Jabba: We’ll be there. I’m not comfortable with him sleeping in the same room as people who aren’t family. I hope that’s not the case. You wouldn’t be comfortable if I had him sleeping in bedrooms or hotels with men you didn’t know and I understand that. I want to be very clear about why I am and am not comfortable with here. I am sure you understand that.

Upon reading this, it had occurred to me.  Jabba thought I was traveling with The Auteur.

Rob:  Aren’t family? My Dad is here with me. OH. You assumed The Auteur was traveling with me. She’s not.

It didn’t occur to me then, but this electronic exchange would set much of the tone for The Kid’s visit.

Jabba called not only The Kid, but also me, far more on this trip than she has for any of our other visits.  on Monday, the 23rd, she called three times alone.  Sure, I get it.  She’s likely to call more frequently since it is Christmas – or a few days before as it were.  Compared to our previous visits, this was excessive.  Something was different with Jabba.  There was a different feeling – a different tone to things.  The mood had changed.  There was almost a hint of desperation to things.

By around the 24th or 25th, I had made it clear to Jabba that The Kid and I were not staying at my parents’ house.  We were staying at OUR house – ours being The Auteur and mine – which may be referred to in the following text as “The Auteur’s house”  for the sake of clarity and conversational continuity.  Jabba got on the phone with me a few times, calmly at first; then yelling in subsequent conversations.  She decided to take the position that the entire point of The Kid’s Christmas visit was to spend time with his grandparents (my parents).  She even got The Kid to say it one night on the phone! But I’ll get to the manipulation later.  At this, I reminded her that our divorce settlement says NOTHING about visitation with grandparents, cousins, aunts, or uncles – one either side. All it discusses is visitation for the mother and the father.

The things is, I get it.  I really do.  Jabba and I divorced and I happened to be the first of us to meet somebody.  Were I in her shoes, I’m sure I would probably be feeling very frustrated and uneasy also.  At the same time, it’s over.  The proverbial, if not literal, ink is drying on our divorce as I type.  It’s time for us all to move on with our lives.  I intend on 2014 being all about taking life to the next step.

BACK TO THE MANIPULATION:  This is what gets me.  Jabba is a smart ass. She prides herself on her “bitchiness”.  My son is a good kid, but I can already see his personality being shaped and influenced by her.  This sucks because he lives with her probably 98% of the year and will have a bigger impact on his shaping his personality than I could ever hope to.  And I get it.  I really do.  He loves his Mom and wants to make her happy.  But I can already see the conflict within him – saying something to make her happy while knowing it’s not true.  It’s something he will have to deal with in the months and years to come.

I think the bullshit scares me most because of the way it affected me during my previous life.  In the 16 years we were together, I began to fib, lie and out-and-out bullshit people:  family, friends, loved ones, strangers.  That is one of several bad personality traits I picked up in those years.  Unfortunately, old habits die hard and I still occasionally fall into old routines – but I am improving.  None of this is an overnight transformation.

THE NEW YEAR’S REVOLUTION CONTINUES…

The hardest goodbye of all

Two things prompted me to create this post tonight: a post on a blog that i follow HERE and a phone call I had with the Kid a short time ago.  He and  I spoke briefly tonight – he had a friend staying the night at his house.  He informed me about a fishing trip Jabba is taking him on later this week.  He told me “I wish you could go” which really struck me, I think because he is still only 6 years old but he is maturing and I see him developing a sense of empathy.  This conversation, the aforementioned link and the fact that I’ve never written about this topic – to the best of my knowledge – are the brainchildren of tonight’s post.

Forgive me if I’ve posted about this before.  I haven’t gone back yet to review my earlier posts.

Far and away, the absolute hardest part of my divorce was saying goodbye to my son; more specifically, my decision to leave him and the home in which he lives under the care of Jabba.  It was not an easy decision for me to make; and to be fair, it’s not an easy decision for any father worth his weight to make. I can’t speak for all fathers who have to – or chose to – move out of their homes, leaving their kids in the care of their moms.  But in my situation, I had to make the decision to leave for the proverbial greater good.  

Let’s face it:  my marriage dynamic was a fucked up situation  I simply wasn’t happy in it and I didn’t want my son to grow up thinking that the way that Jabba and I were living was normal.  I wanted – and want – The Kid to see me as a proud, happy, hard-working, productive human being.  Ideally, I would have like to have done all of these things while living under the same roof as him, but that was simply no longer realistic. Unless they are psychologically unfit or abusing the kids,the moms generally get custody of the kids, period.

The worst part of this whole mess is missing out on the everyday – day-to-day stuff.  The Kid is really interested in fishing; a passion I was and am not around to see develop in him.  We speak on the phone an average of 6 times per week, but it simply isn’t the same as having a daily presence in each other’s lives. I don’t get to see him come in from school and tell me about his day.  I don’t see his school friends.  I absolutely despise the fact that I miss out in him reading books, discovering new foods, and seeing him accomplish something that he wasn’t able to do the day or even the hour before.  When I get to see him, it seems like he’s growing by leaps and bounds.  There are times when I hardly recognize him from one photograph to the next.  I hear stories about countless dads who simply don’t want to be involved in their kid’s lives and it makes me sick.  I would give anything to have The Kid living here with me full-time.  I know that it’s all relative though.  There are some dads who live within earshot of their kids and never get to see them.  There are other like me who live  5 states away and get along with their kid fabulously but still can’t have the relationship they want.

IN OTHER NEWS:  I tried to add a couple classes to my school schedule tonight.  I have to talk to my academic adviser tomorrow to get that going.

UPDATE 1.2.14 1:13 PM:  I talked with my mom just a few hours ago, just to shore up plans for Phred’s upcoming birthday.  I informed her how The Kid had told me when we talked just after midnight in New Year’s Eve/Day that he had tried to call my parents.  Mom informed me that he made no such attempt to call; not on his phone and not on Jabba’s phone.  I’m not mad at him.  There’s no doubt in my mind that Jabba told him to tell me that, just to fuck with my head.

Also, I managed to get signed up for Winter classes finally.  I continue to move forward.

THE NEW YEAR’S REVOLUTION CONTINUES

WAR

300 war

Wednesday started out like any other day under the current status quo of The New Normal: I got in from work, talked / Facebook Messaged The Auteur, slept a bit,  tried to enjoy some daylight.

In the evening, I called The Boy.  And since the STBX refused to take my calls or answer my e-mails, I asked The Boy to put her on the phone.

I reminded her of our rough plans for me to visit The Boy while she was on a work-related trip.  I was planning to turn this into a little vacation of my own with The Auteur and 1B in tow.

After some stuttering and stalling, she tells me that I am not allowed to see The Boy until there’s a settlement in place.

I wasn’t really surprised by this course of action on Jabba’s behalf, but to be told you cannot see your child by anyone is truly shocking.

Amazingly enough, I kept my cool. I didn’t go nearly as ballistic as I did the day of the cable bill calamity although this is clearly much, much worse.

I called my lawyer the next day, and had a phone meeting with him on Friday.  He’s going to call Jabba’s lawyer before proceeding any further.

What the hell have I become?  The Me From One Year Ago would not even recognize the me of today.  I’m not saying this to condemn the current me; rather, I’m just stunned sometimes at how much my life, my perspective and my attitude has changed.

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A year and a day ago today…

A year and a day ago today…

My brother and The Old Man made the trip to South Carolina to help me move out of my then-home, leaving the STBX and The Boy in the process. I hope never in my life to have to do anything that emotionally draining again. Saying goodbye to The Boy was, BY FAR,  the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.  I am so grateful that he has taken everything the last year has thrown at him as well as he has.  He is an absolute soldier and he makes me beam with pride.

Back then I was still in the “hurt” mode.  It would be another 3 weeks or so before I became full-on angry with the STBX.  Today, I don’t know that I’m even angry at her anymore.  As I said in a previous blog, her continued existence annoys the shit out of me though.

It was hotter than hell on that trip back to MI.  104 in Columbia and like the traffic on Sunday, it was a mess.  I also remember that literally one-half  of the state of W. Virginia had lost power.  It got a little scary that night as gas stations were hit and miss.  Thankfully, we had no problems.

I also recall coming home and drinking beer, lots of it.  Beer was my coping mechanism.  I remember going to my cousin’s house (whom I shall code name “John Ryan”) for hid annual July 4th get-together, sitting down, and drinking one beer after another – basically until I couldn’t drink anymore.  As of now, I’ve been sober for 24 days and have no plans on hitting the sauce again.

Has it REALLY been a year already?

Back to the present…

UPDATE:  Wednesday, July 3 5:43 PM.

I took The Boy home on Sunday.  Saying goodbye was much easier this time.  He was pretty stoked to be home, see his pets and his mom.  As we said goodbye, he told “Now, don’t you cry Dad”.  I couldn’t help but bust out laughing.  I’ve always known that he would eventually take these goodbyes easier than I would; perhaps he’s already there.

On my way back into town, I spent Monday night at The Auteur’s house.  It was so good to see her and we seriously needed time together.  Since then, we’ve both said that we feel better about the state of our relationship.  Later the next day, I get a Facebook message from her saying that 1B knows that we are sleeping together.  What does one say to that?  Especially when it’s being brought up by their kid???

a new low

I was packing the van to bring The Boy back to South Carolina when the STBX called to inform The Boy that his fish had died.  He, naturally, was very upset but he handled it very well all things considered.

I understand that the STBX is a chaos freak, and she couldn’t care less how the Boy’s mood affects my drive on this road trip, but to exploit his emotions for her own personal kicks against me is beneath even her.  Or so I thought…

uncharted territory

uncharted territory

meeting the girlfriend’s kid was definitely an “unexplored country” for me…until Sunday

Last week, the Auteur’s daughter, whom I shall affectionately refer to as “1B” said to the Auteur that she was ready to meet me. The Auteur ran this past me. I didn’t really have a problem with it. I work with kids her age (or a little older) all day for a living. Granted they inherently hate me on some level since I am their teacher; but I really wasn’t concerned with the prospect of meeting her.

I’ve never met a date/girlfriend’s kid before. Hell, there was only one other girl I ever dated who even had a kid already. But as a 39 year-old divorcee with child, that’s par for the course in the New Normal. In fact, the closest thing I can compare to meeting a s/o’s kid would be meeting a significant other’s parents for the first time.  But even meeting someone’s parents has never been an issue for me. Sure, I want them to like me; but I know that I’m a good guy. Typically I stay on my toes, watch my language and try to be engaging and I’m fine.

In my opinion, meeting a S/O’s kid is an even bigger step in a relationship than meeting her parents. It is my opinion that being a parent means that the person is unequivocally and adult just by virtue of the fact that thy are in charge of a member of the next generation. This is a view I have held since The Boy was born. To this day, i still don’t consider myself to be an adult, but I know that as a father, society see me as such; but I digress. The fact is, person’s child develops a far greater emotional attachment to the would-be boyfriend/girlfriend than said person’s parents ever do. When a kid’s parent enters a relationship with a new man/woman, that new person can be viewed as potential step-parent, a possible role model, or someone they hate for any number of personal reasons. `It is for these reasons that I say that meeting a significant other’s child(ren) is a HUGE step in any relationship; one upon which I hope most people do not tread lightly.

I met 1B this past Sunday morning when she, The Auteur and I all got breakfast.  1 B was pretty much exactly as she had been described to me by the Auteur.  She’s a very polite kid; very good mannered; VERY mature for her age in many ways.  As any kid should be, she is a living testament to her mother’s parenting ability. It pisses me off when I hear that 1B’s father has so little to do with her.  I only met her once and I can tell that 1B is a great kid.  Her father has truly lost out on the experience of raising her and being a part of her life.

It’s funny.  When I talk to the Auteur about the STBX, and her attempts of screwing me out of time with The Boy, she gets really angry.  She sees how much I want to be a part of The Boy’s life and is dumbfounded by the STBX’s attempts to keep me from him.  Seeing The Auteur react as she does gives me a sense of vindication.  There are thousands, if not millions, of single Moms who dream that their Exes or baby daddys would want to be as involved as I want to be with The Boy.

I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.  If nothing else, my relationship with The Auteur has taught me not only about the relationship I want to have going have, but also just how screwed-up things with me and the STBX truly were.

three certainties in life

"...and your little tax refund to..."

“…and your little tax refund too!”

Ben Franklin once said that the only two certainties in life are death and taxes. On this Tax Day 2013, I would humbly submit a third absolute to be added to this list: getting financially fucked up the ass during divorce proceedings.

For the first time since actually leaving South Carolina, I am truly beginning to feel the financial ramifications of the dissolution of my marriage. As some of you may have guessed, I am talking about my income taxes for 2012. I had gotten used to kick-back i would receive from the IRS for the living, breathing write-off that is my son. Despite the fact that he lived in my home for one-half of the calendar year –  I fed him, clothed him, paid for his day care and health care expenses –  the STBX is the only one who is reaping the financial windfall of this endeavor called parenthood in 2012.

I don’t want to come across like I’m all about the money. I’m not. I would gladly let the STBX reap the financial benefits of our Son if it meant I had sole custody of him.  Hell, now I would settle for joint custody.  I really would. My income tax returns are just another example from taking it up the wazoo from the Wicked Witch of the Southeast.

To make matters worse, this has probably been the worst year of my professional life. I didn’t work much this past year, and I made even less money. That and I apparently fucked up my with- holdings during my last teaching gig.

I’m really not trying to be all “the glass is half-empty and there’s a hole in it”. Really, I’m not. I’m cautiously optimistic that this tax thing is the final dark cloud bordering on my silver lining. Things are going extraordinarily well with The Auteur. She and I just had what I consider to be the best weekend of my life so far. If taking my lumps with tax season is the price i have to pay for this remarkable relationship with The Auteur, then so be it.

Wow. it’s true. All I have to do is think of her and I feel better about things.

Perhaps I should reconsider that third certainty.

I really shouldn’t even be complaining.  Not today anyway.  Not when a great celebration turned into this earlier today…

Why?

Why?

reflecting on a week in the Grand Strand.

It shouldn't surprise me that the STBX removed the  Disney "Dad" sticker from the back of her car; but it was a weird sight nonetheless

Gone is the Disney “Dad” sticker from the back of the STBX’s  car.

As I type this, I am sitting at the gate waiting for my flight to Detroit to pull in. I’ve spent the last 6 days in Myrtle Beach, four of which I spend with My Son. As usual, he was giddy to see me; so excited he was running a-mile-a-minute. Just like at Christmas, we spent most of our time just hanging out, shopping and watching TV.  We made it to the beach a few times, played a game of miniautre golf at the aptly named Jurassic Golf. And of course, we also built some Lego sets.  I did however manage to take him to see Jurassic Park 3D, which I thought was as good as a post-production 3D conversion of a 20 year old film could expect to be. JP is just plain fun, and it was an extra special treat to see it on the big screen with my Son.

The weather sucked by Myrtle Beach standards, but it was still better than this still-born spring we’re currently slumming through in the D.  The hotel was pretty nice, with a full kitchen and an absolutely spectacular balcony overlooking the ocean.

Saturday night, the Boy wasn’t feeling good.  After conferring with the STBX, we suspected he had pink eye.  I ended up accompanying the two of them to urgent care on Sunday.  The Boy asked me to go and he was kind of freaking out about it, so I agreed.  the doctor’s confirmed it was pink eye; so he got an extra 2 days of vacation from school.

Sitting in that waiting was, literally, the longest time I’ve spent with the STBX since before I left South Carolina.  While I was concerned about the Boy, it felt to awkward being there with her also in the room.  The sensation was a stark reminder that that particular part of my life is over.    I wasn’t sad or anything; I just wanted to get out of there.

Leaving wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it was going to be. The Boy and I both cried at the drop-off which almost made the trip to urgent care a blessing in disguise.  Our final goodbye was at UC, but neither he nor I cried then.  We basically got all the crying out of the way at McDonald’s

I’ve been told that these drop-offs and goodbyes get easier with time.  This was only our second one and it did seem easier; but there was more going on here.  I was excited to get back to Michigan and the life that I have here now.  Doubtless, the prospect of seeing The Auteur again had a lot to do with it.  Even beyond The Auteur, I am happier now than I’ve been in a LONG time.

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