Two months ago, my wife of 14 years told me she wanted to separate. One month ago, I gave up trying to convince her to stay and decided that working together to facilitate this break up was what was best for me and our boys.
Three weeks ago, after considerable planning, we broke the news to the kids. Mommy is moving out, you will live with each of us every other week, we love you both. For the boys, they knew I came from a divorced family, and a good chunk of their friends either had divorced or single parents. They got it. They were very sad, and they had lots of questions, some silly, some surprisingly insightful for their age. But, they got it.
A few days later, I asked my soon-to-be-ex-wife if I could have the kids for the first two weeks in order to facilitate a business trip I had to take on the third. She agreed.
Here we are, present day. I have been a single father (papers signed and all decisions made) for almost two weeks. My job has been very accommodating in allowing me to work from home and mold my schedule around the boys. So I have been front and center as primary caretaker and have had little distraction to be there for my kids and work on our new family dynamic.
At first it was tough, doing all the day-to-day tasks that my wife and I had shared, knowing where things were that I normally didn't need, and simply being present for them when emotionally I was a wreck.
But about halfway through the first week, I realized something. This was now my life, this was now my house, and I could lead my life, build my house, and spend my time however I wanted. My time with my sons was mine to create.
The sudden sense of empowerment and freedom, coupled with the sadness of a part of my life ending, was cathartic. I went to the boys and told them that I would like us to plan out how we would like our house set up, what we would like for meals, and any changes they might want to our daily routine.
Being my boys, they latched onto the idea of planning our surroundings. Each son had great ideas on some changes they would like to see: furniture placement, room assignment, what goes on what shelves, and most importantly, tearing down "the wall."
A year ago, my ex-wife decided to block one of the two entrances to our kitchen (which you must pass through to get to the bathroom and the back bedroom) in order to add more storage space to the kitchen. All three of us did not like how "the wall" impeded our preferred path to the bathroom
So a week ago, we tore down the wall. We were like little kids running through a sprinkler, passing back and forth through the newly opened pathway, yelling as we passed through to announce each time we walked as we chose.
That brings us to last night: three nights before our two weeks together end. I decided to surprise them and take them to Sushi Yoshi, our favorite sushi restaurant, for dinner. We sat on the mats in the room where no shoes are allowed.
My older son sat next to me while my younger sat across from me. As we drank our Pepsi and munched on rice and octopus, I asked them, "How have these past two weeks been? What did you like? What would you like to be different?"
They both sat and munched and thought about it carefully. They missed their mom. They were glad we both joined them on their first day of school. But, they loved our new adventure. They liked being part of the changes. They liked the alone time with me.
The both seemed very happy, content and loving. I realized we were going to make it; that I could do this.
My smile and love for them knocked the sushi boat off the table.