As I write, the boy is snoring away, the wall in between my living room and the spare bedroom is shaking from the sheer force of the buzzing gale he is emitting. It is a new experience for me to hear him, this holiday break the first I have lived with him in over two years. A lot has changed in that brief period of time, including the emergence of the snore. We both have matured a bit, evidenced by the peaceful coexistence all week, a bit of a surprise for me.
Geez, the kid is really sawing away in there.
What I expected to experience this past week was a lot of lost sleep, caused by a hulk of a boy that I remembered from two years ago, with loud late night X-Box marathons capped by a midnight marathon shower, his music blaring selfishly through a Bluetooth speaker in the bathroom. Trails of stench and scattered debris would be all over my humbly overly cared for abode, left by a being who really didn’t care about the havoc he administered to the order of my peaceful existence. What seems like an exaggeration was the reality of mere thirty months ago. I flinched with anxious thoughts as I anticipated his upcoming visit this past week.
Those anxious thoughts diluted while they swirled amongst the stronger feelings of gratitude. To me, the notion that my son even wants to stay with me was a miracle. When his mother and I sold our house, separated to be together no more, there was not a single doubt that he would live with her. In my mind, she had helped to create the monster, fed his enormous appetite, protected him from my discipline, and the two belonged together. He would never want to or be able to exist in the same hemisphere with me again. I am not sure if I have said it, and if I have please forgive me, but they deserved each other and the separation was an immediate relief from unbelievable stress. That didn’t mean that I did not or do not want a relationship with my son. One of the biggest let downs for me was that it did not seem that all of the effort I had put into him would ever be returned. I never thought we would have a decent relationship, that my son would ever value his relationship with me as his father, would ever want to spend time with me again.
I think pretty much every father goes through that. Thankfully, most do not experience that through divorce. There are few days I do not wonder if my marriage would not have been different, maybe even survived, had it not been for the conflict created by my relationship with my son and the escalation of that conflict by the choice his mother made in that conflict. I will never know.
What I do know is that my son and I were both anxious about our first cohabitation since the separation and divorce. I was providing sanctuary to him, sanctuary from living in the small space provided to him at his aunt’s town home, a freedom of sorts. He would have to live in my very orderly space, a space that has been mine alone for over two years, but he would have his own space in my home. I know he preferred that, know that he has been reaching out to me and lifting me up. I was anxious, but I really hoped that this time it would be different than it was two years ago.
I think we both were surprised.
He came home to my home, tentative, not knowing what I would expect from him. I gave him a lot of freedom. I think he liked that. It was obvious that I am meticulous, not liking my space to be invaded, but he did a good job of adjusting to my expectations. He wasn’t perfect, but he was respectful, careful, conscious of the world I have created and he did his best to fit his twenty year old male self into that world. I did my best to accommodate him, not press him into a perfect little mold, let him live his own life while he was with me. It wasn’t perfect, but I resisted telling him anything, cleaned up after him and noticed that he adapted to my expectations. I didn’t lose sleep, although I worried more about him getting home safely than I have in the past. He communicated with me very well, let me know what was going on, so I could sleep soundly. Our last night, I didn’t even notice when he came home.
What meant the most to me during his visit? Perhaps it is the realization that he values me, looks at some of my interests as positive things. It is very obvious that he thinks my mountain biking is a cool thing. I can tell that the time invested in him over the years was not a waste. I feel valued. I needed that. One thing that cemented that he is thinking of me was Saturday night, when his car needed windshield wipers, and he wanted to borrow a car. He acknowledged that maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t ready to loan out my ‘new’ car to him. It was a good thing to me, a confirmation that he is starting to get it. I needed that.
I am tentatively proud. He is making strides, working on gaining my confidence. This whole divorce thing is a tough journey and he is working through it. Like the title of today’s blog, I know that we both are working into a new relationship, a seasoning of sorts.