Thursday, July 30, 2009

coming back soon

I've just completed my technological renovation. That doesn't mean that everything is fully operational, but at least I'm stepping forward with ways to be more productive and pursue some of my sideline goals. For instance, this is the first picture from the new-to-me D50. I'm not sure why she looks so glum, though...

We leave for Maine tomorrow. Time for a little recharge.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Been on hiatus

I guess you could say I've been on hiatus for a couple of weeks. There's a great deal to write about — from a couple new meal adventures, to the exploding growers market scene, to an amazing tour of the community garden and Butterflies Live! at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. There are little parenting adventures, and a few ups and downs of single parenting to recount.

I'm also considering a bit of rebranding for the blog. "Impolitic Eye" was a name that came about five years ago as I was contemplating the political state of the country in the lead-up to the 2004 election. It doesn't necessarily fit my vision for what I want to write about or what my goals are — and believe it or not I have a few goals for this little project both in terms of focus and content, and links to other bloggers and blog networks. What that name will be, I'm still not sure. It's a work-in-progress in my head right now.

In the next few days, I'm going to make a shift in computers back to a laptop in the hopes that a little more portability and accessibility will give me the flexibility to work where and when I want. Believe it or not, I'm coming back.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Summertime and the livin' is...

You'd think summer would be a time of unmitigated fun. Lots and lots of pool time. Farmers markets. Perfect weather. The annual Maine trip. Lots of extra time to do kid stuff with fewer constraints.

It all sounds great, but the truth is that summer is becoming a time of deep melancholy. The school year means a predictable routine both with the kid around the house and with a reliable school pattern. The summer, however, means a break in patterns. Camp throws different schedules into the mix — especially when it comes to the weeks at the beginning and end of the summer. The kid's mom and I also shift to more of a shared schedule. And this is where the real problem occurs.

We generally work well on parenting and scheduling matters when the schedule is reliable. When transitions occur, our communication moves into less reliable territory. Moreover, the differences in how we approach parenting really come into play.

As the switch to a week-to-week schedule approached, I told Buttercup about it. She seemed genuinely surprised. She asked why we would change schedules, and I explained that it's what we had agreed upon a couple years ago. I also reminded her that we had done it last year. She accepted that, but she still seemed a little off.

That feeling has continued a bit over the past couple of weeks. As the switch to staying at her mom's has approached this week, she has had a few bedwetting incidents. She has also seemed needier and much more sensitive, in her own world in ways that can be both adorable and frustrating at the same time. Apparently, this is just another case where our feelings are in concert, however, because I too have been a roller coaster of emotions and stress.

It seems I've also hit the point where I can't shut off my parenting side at all. The house is lonely without the kid, no matter how many people are around. The thought of not having to get her ready for camp in the morning brings no solace. In fact, I will end up spending much of my "down" time wondering whether I'll be called on for a pool trip (good) or an emergency (bad). This feeling is nothing new, and I've written about it before. What seems different this year is the depth of it. In fact, I feel the time away from my role as dad even more this year than in previous years.

The bright sides are few. I will be busy at work and busy trying to get a handle on things at home again. I will also have a bit more time to enjoy adult time. For Buttercup, the bright side is of course that she gets more time with mom. I can't help feeling, though, that her surprise at and questions about the shift in schedules are a sign of a deeper reliance on something else.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Summer's here

I apologize to those few of you who are regular visitors for the recent light posting. It's been a busy, up-and-down week. Happy Fourth of July... I'm off to the pool.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

trust is what it all comes down to

The NYT published an utterly brilliant, potentially tear-inducing piece by Simon Van Booy on being a single father the other day. In it he recounts the loss of his wife to a sudden, fatal illness and his subsequent path of raising his daughter alone.

He touches on some important moments. He builds friendships with mothers, taking advice and shared experiences from them. He worries about cultural and media role models for his daughter is in the thick of the Princess phase. He struggles to find other men with common experiences to share and have a community. Ultimately, he finds that he just "thinks differently about everything" and manufactures happiness and memories with his daughter when and where he can. And when he gives a thumbnail description of the evening when all aspects of life routine go slightly wrong, I can't help but feel like he's given a thumbnail of my life in the whole piece.

The truth is being a single parent isn't easy, but it also isn't as hard as some people make it out to be. You make your own reality, your own moments, and when it comes to the ups and downs of daily life and routines, we muddle through the same way everyone else does. I recognize (and have written extensively about) the choices and compromises in my life, but then there are moments like the ones Ivey describes making eggs in the kitchen and later shaving that wipe out any sense of loss for the choices made.

The other day, I carved out a day just to spend with the kid. We haven't had many of these moments recently — whole days and activities that were our time — and I missed that connection. It occurred to me that in the midst of my work schedule, her camp schedule, the random detritus of daily life, relationships, social times with friends and neighbors, sleeping and eating, I was forgetting to make space for father-daughter time. By this, I don’t mean going to a movie or eating dinner; I mean taking little trips, leaving unstructured time for exploration and little adventures. When we came to the end of that day and were tired from going out in the woods and then to the pool, I saw smiles from Buttercup I haven’t seen in a while. They might have been there, but I wasn’t paying as much attention. When we sat down to watch baseball, then, and she fell asleep on my lap and I listened to her breathing settle into a deep sleep, I felt more at ease than I have in a while.

I thought about this again after a conversation with B Mére about schedules. We were moving into the summer schedule of traded weeks (always a melancholy time for me), and she wanted to feel free and clear to take the kid out of daycamp when she had the time and inclination. I reacted and defended the social time and camp activities as important for Buttercup. But the truth is I was reacting against B Mére’s ability to make and create time for fun. I wanted that same freedom.

And this is where my experience and Van Booy’s most diverge. He lost his wife to death; I lost mine to divorce. Ivey must struggle daily with the pain and emptiness of that loss and his daughter’s reactions to it; he won’t struggle with the clotted communication and conflicting patterns of parenting with an ex. He won’t have to deal with any lurking resentments and occasional competition that can linger after a divorce. Regardless, this is not about comparisons.

After reading Van Booy’s piece, I was reminded that ultimately this life is about a child’s trust and small, good moments. Read his words.