Things are a little rough right now between J and me. Last Sunday she took our 22 month old out in a UTV without talking to me first. When I calmed down enough to get the details from her, it did sound like she and her housemate were being cautious during the outing and were not doing anything blatantly dumb. Apart from the not talking to me first part. I found out about the outing because S tagged J in a photo on Facebook, and it popped up on my feed. It was terrifying, in part because I didn’t know much about UTVs (and had to learn quickly), and in part because J was defiant at first when I confronted her about the incident. We worked everything out in the end, and she has promised to discuss new, potentially dangerous kid activities with me in advance from here on out.
Despite the positive ending, I feel like something has changed between us. I don’t know how outsiders are likely to view what happened. I’ve talked to a lot of people this past week about toddlers and UTVs (including official peoples like a person from Parks and Rec, and another person in the Transportation Department), and opinion seems pretty polarized between, ‘Well, as long as they were driving carefully,’ and ‘Holy fuck, NO.’ Even the official opinion is polarized. I now think that I overreacted to what J and S were actually doing in the UTV, but after my first unproductive conversation with J I had a moment. It happened late at night as I sat at my computer shaking (actual shaking), reading up on off highway vehicle laws, and reaching out to anybody who might provide me with a useful perspective. As much as the issue at hand was about our toddler, I realized that J doesn’t treat me very well. The longer we are apart, the less she makes an effort to be nice.
The question I have been pondering since then is, “How can I still feel so sad over the loss of this relationship?”
J hasn’t been as outrageously awful as some exes I can think of. I belong to two online divorce support groups, and I hear worse stories through those venues all the time. I am thankful for J’s sanity, sobriety, and *generally* for her senses of reason and fair play.
But that doesn’t make J a nice person. For the last year+ of our marriage before the separation, she was unreliable on the home front: it was hard to get her to help with things like dishes and dinner, and she was always leaving to spend time with S. Late evenings, overnights, texting all the time, acting emotionally distant when we were doing something as a family, blah blah. The cheating aside, she wasn’t a participant in our life together. Now, when she comes over, for whatever reason, she is always late, always in a rush. She can’t stay because she has to get back and help S with dinner. She and S need to run errands and there just isn’t time. Little things, but each of them with their own small sting. When my sister (who J has always liked) came from Washington to visit, J was going to have dinner with us, but cancelled because S decided to go grocery shopping. There is an irony in all of this I wish J could see. I wonder (a little spitefully, I admit) whether J will be as dedicated to S ten years from now. That’s how long she made it with me before she had to leave. I wonder if J is capable of long-term commitment. I can’t think of a good answer to the question. If she isn’t, that’s sad. If she is, but to somebody other than me, I guess that’s less sad, but it doesn’t do me a lot of good.
If I can decide that I don’t much like who J has become (and at this moment I do not), will it become easier to move on?
The real moving on is, I expect, going to happen in the small things I do to fill up all the hours in which J is not present in my life. This weekend was a good one, by the way. On Saturday I took little guy out to the community garden for a couple of hours to help plant carrots and radishes. This was the second big planting day and there were a lot of people present to help, so the work didn’t take very long. After my small set of garden chores were complete, little guy and I sat and watched some heavy equipment moving dirt on a lot across the street (How do little boys learn to love these things? How? Though… It was kind of fun to watch the excavator at work). Then we went on an aimless wander through the park. Little guy pointed at a statue, zig-zagged through a shelter full of picnic benches, and spent ages laughing at a drinking fountain that worked and was just his size. On our way home I noticed a kiddie thrift store and found some inexpensive new clothing and a set of building toys.
On Sunday we joined a group of people from my parent group out at Bruneau Dunes, which is a very lovely place only about 45 minutes from home:
The above photos are some I took a decade ago, but no matter.
It was good to catch up with other people from the group again. This weekend it was a different subset than the ladies I had drinks with last weekend. Like last weekend, the group included people I knew a little and wished I knew better. The group settled down at the base of a small dune and pulled out digging toys and snacks and kites. Some of the parents and the bigger kids climbed the dune. Since it was a big crowd, my toddler was clingy for most of the morning, but he seemed to enjoy himself. On our way home we stopped at Grind’s Diner in Mountain Home and ordered fries and a milkshake.
Not a bad weekend at all, despite everything.