When we split up, my ex-husband had never flown alone with the kids.
He had never taken either one of them to the doctor or the ER unless I was there too.
He had never taken them away overnight anywhere without me, unless his mother/brother/other relatives were also there. He’d stayed HOME with them overnight, but only very rarely.
Yesterday I drove him to the airport with both of them–my bestitched baby (I know, I know, he’s eight, cut me a little slack, will you? He’s still MY baby) and the big one, whose birthday it was. He turned fifteen. I’m the mother of a fifteen year old (though you’d never know it to look at him–downy cheek of youth and all that. I think it will be quite some time before he even has a pimple.) And I kissed them goodbye (the kids, not my ex–though he was polite and appreciative that I drove them to the airport) and waved and drove home alone feeling rather unnerved, though in a good way.
Three years post-separation and my ex-husband is finally stepping up to the plate. He no longer calls me to ask the stupidest questions at the drop of a hat. He does not seem terribly interested in knowing my whereabouts at all times (or ever, really, which is awfully nice) and he does not come into the house and rifle through the bookcases. He copes with the kids when they’re with him and he calls to talk to them (not me, but them–not me ABOUT them, but them) when they’re not. He is reasonably on time to pick them up. We don’t have that much contact anymore–we rarely speak, we seldom e-mail–which is absolutely amazing.
I’m sure I contributed to the unsavory dynamic between us, though it felt (to me, anyway) as if I were the person trying to break free and get on with my life and he was the person hanging on. I think I got off on feeling superior when he was incompetent, and I think his incompetence (feigned or real) was meant to make me feel like a Bad Person for leaving. I think I was as interested in showing that I was responsible and he was lame as he was that I was awful and he was victimized. Suddenly, though, the whole codependent clusterfuck seems to have gone up in a puff of smoke. I had a lot of energy invested in hating him, it turns out. I also spent a great deal of time thinking about him. More than he was worth. I don’t mean that quite the way it sounds.
I mean only this: quietly, he’s managed to regain some of my respect. So anyway. Yesterday he left to fly cross country with the children, and I stood at the curb and waved goodbye and watched them go.