Dirt

I’ve been sad and upset lately, angry and frustrated by the reality of divorced parenting. I feel very strongly that now is the time to gather Seth closely in as he gets used to being at his huge public high school and looks for ways to engage with the world meaningfully. I don’t mean, “You can’t date and never may you spend time with friends!” but rather being solidly there for him and directing him, as best as we can, through the morass of adolescence.

For example, there’s a youth group at our UU church where I’m pretty sure he could find some good friends, as well as get the chance to play music that doesn’t involve the more competitive and possibly out-of-reach options at the high school. The problem is that communication between me and Olivia (my ex)* is tricky, and as the boys grow older and have more agency, I’ve let a lot of it go in a big way.

But things get lost in the cracks. If Olivia doesn’t know that I think Seth should go to a particular youth group meeting because they’re discussing music, then she won’t push him to go (as shy, sometimes anxious guys sometimes needs to be pushed), and that’s one more nail in that coffin in that he hasn’t had a chance to get to know the music-y youth group kids. The trouble with parenting with a person you’re divorced from is, surprise! you don’t usually get along or agree on the best path for your kids.

I used to always say that Olivia and I agree on the most important things, the health and happiness of our kids. That is true, and I am grateful that she loves them and cares for them as much as she does. However, it’s a great disappointment and struggle that our interpretations of “health” and “happiness” differ so greatly. Seth was at Olivia’s the day of that youth group meeting, and he  didn’t go. I know it’s a small thing. But there are so many small things like it.

This morning, Seth had to get up early to go to band. I woke up even earlier, made some breakfast, made some lunches, puttered around, woke Seth up. You never know with a 15-year old, but this morning he was relaxed and mild. He ate breakfast (sometimes he storms out without it), he sipped on his fennel tea, quizzically informing me that it tasted like dirt, which made me laugh. Bang goes another attempt to find him a licorice tea he likes!

Our morning together – less than ½ an hour – was made up of moments like that. He needed sweatpants. I found some hiding in a drawer. I made sure he had bus fare to get to and from soccer practice. He wanted to wait 6 minutes before I drove him over to school, so we sat in the living room and the cat got on his lap. I asked him about his new cats at Olivia’s house and mentioned Nanny, the dog in Peter Pan. We drove off into an amazing sunrise and I couldn’t stop looking at the sky. I told him about our friend’s little boys in France who are yearning for Halloween (which they don’t do over there) and we hatched a plan to treat them to some candy from afar.

As I drove home after dropping him at the high school maw, there were tears in my eyes. I just went slowly and let the good wash over me. Olivia and I don’t work well together, that is just the way it is. If I concentrate on all of that shit, I won’t be able to appreciate these other, small, delicious, cozy moments with my boys where our blessing and the okayness of our family make themselves known. And guess what? It tastes like dirt. Not so much “pay dirt”, but “down in the dirt”, the dirt where things are nurtured, where they gather the strength and knowledge to come out, gorgeous, questing, alive, into the light.

*my little bloggy conceit is she has a different pseudonym almost every time I write about her

Published in: on October 18, 2011 at 8:48 AM  Leave a Comment  

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