“So how many kids do you have?”
“I’ve got two – Georgia who is 11 and James who is 2”
“Wow – that’s quite an age gap!”
“Yes, Georgia is from my first marriage, James from my second”
This is a conversation I have a lot when meeting new people, I’m 33 years old and I’ve got two children, that’s pretty normal – two marriages though? Not so much. I sometimes feel like Ross from ‘Friends’, although my first wife wasn’t a lesbian and I haven’t married Helen Baxendale or shtupped Jennifer Aniston and I’m definitely not a paleontologist. Perhaps I’m not like Ross from Friends..
Anyway – I’ve got two children to care for, two ex-wives to co-ordinate with, try and allow time for them to be together, give them time individually and hold down a fullish time job.
It’s hard – but thankfully – not impossible.
I’m lucky in a sense because I work at home, for myself, so I’m able to look after James during the week – the pattern works with him that I have him during the week one week and the weekend of the next week. This means he gets time when he has my full attention, and time with his sister. The pattern with Georgia is slightly different so she gets more of her time here with her brother, and one weekend a month with just me.
As they do have such a vast age gap, finding suitable entertainment that matches them both is hard, what will thrill James is utterly mundane for Georgia, and what is exciting for Georgia is usually not right for James. The way the ‘arrangements’ work, I get a fair amount of time with them together – and then time with them individually. I’m thankful for this because it’s really important that they get the best of each other, and also the best of me. It means I can go to Soft Play with James and we can have fun together and then when I have Georgia alone we can go to the cinema or out for a meal – both of them have time for my full attention and focus.
It’s not always easy coordinating between us all – stuff happens, things crop up, and everything moves around. So there are some times where Georgia and James will go without seeing each other for two weeks or so. It’s upsetting and not very nice, but it’s a side effect of the situation we’re in, and the fact that all those involved are trying to be as flexible as possible.
During the odd patches when they are apart they do miss each other, I miss them being together too. Ultimately though, I think that makes them appreciate the time the have together so much more, the smiles and hugs they have when they see each other are heart-warming. Georgia always notices how much James has grown, and is fascinated by the new things he’s learnt – she was particularly impressed at the weekend when he told her that ‘Milk come from cows, and milk make eye (ice) cream – Hmmmmmm’. James is similarly enthused to reunite with his sister – usually by shouting ‘GEOOOOOORGIAAAAAA!’ in his weird Northern/Southern accent and charging over for a cuddle.
I really miss them too, and I suppose the quiet times when the house is still and silent are a stark reminder of what a dick I’ve been in the past – but generally now I never take time with them for granted and I definitely did before.
Obviously, this layout of when I see the kids will change in time – it’s possible I might have to get a ‘normal’ job – self employment can be brilliant, but not having the stability of a regular income is terrifying. Also Georgia is getting older, and I know that her weekends will be more about social time with her friends, and I’ll be essentially a taxi driver and hotel while she’s being a social butterfly. I want to enjoy every moment I have and all the affection and fun before I become a Dad that is a constant embarrassment to his teenage daughter.
James going to nursery next year will also alter the time available – I’ll have him a lot less during the week. He’s growing so quickly now, each weekend I see him, he has learnt more, and is that tiny bit older and smarter. He’s developing a sense of humour and is a real little character, not even three yet – I want to treasure every moment I have.
Everything in this last half of the year has changed so dramatically and I’ve changed too it’s very easy to become complacent about what you had and how things were, but sadly, life isn’t easy, and everything can change at a moments notice. Change isn’t always a good thing, but I think both of them appreciate the time with each other, and their time alone with me.