Wednesday, 13 January 2010

New normal

I am babysitting my own children in my old house. I have been here since last night, as the CFO had to go to London at 5am this morning. The sofa is no more comfortable than it used to be, I note. Ouch. Slithery unyielding bastard, how I do not miss you. I have backache already.

The whole thing is profoundly strange, an odd mixture of mundane and unnerving. I don't even know whether to ring the doorbell when I arrive (I do). Do I answer the phone? Empty the dishwasher? Borrow a pair of socks? However 'fine' we are - and truly we are, as fine as we could be - there are sore patches, tendernesses. We don't want to stamp on each other's toes. So we are cautious, a little over-polite. We talk about work and watch tv. The house looks the same, barring a few holes where I have taken things. It's a lot tidier than it used to be.

The dog, who has accompanied me, is plainly puzzled and wanders around whining neurotically, his big liquid eyes straining to understand.

"Do you think he remembers me?" asks the CFO curiously as the dog stares pleadingly at him from short range, whimpering insistently.

"Oh yes, definitely. He's stupid, but he's not actually brain dead. He's just trying to understand why he's here".

The CFO cuffs the dog affectionately around the ears, alpha dog style.


It continues to stare at him, a wide-eyed, troubled stare. 'Do I live here now? I can love you and blindly obey you if you wish me to' the stare seems to say.

The dog never stares at me like this. Actually, it has taken to climbing all over me as I lie on the Ektorp or in bed, like a slightly pointless and boring obstacle. It drinks from my water glass and tries to tread on my laptop.

The children are a lot more relaxed, because they are Prepared. They measure time out carefully and they like to know, to the minute, who will be where, when, how. So they are waiting, serenely for me. Initially they barely look up, though Fingers does discreetly place himself very very close to me as I read them a story, hiding one hand in my pocket. Throughout the day I get the odd proprietary stroke. I snatch a few extra kisses to keep us both going until Monday. They both double check timings with me.

"So you're here today?"


"But not tomorrow"

"That's right. And I'll see you again on Monday which is only 4 sleeps".

They relax and ignore me for much of the evening. Even the dog finally finds a chair it considers acceptable and curls into a tight ball to sleep.

He's back in ten minutes or so, and I'll head home, gather up my stuff like the babysitter, walk back to my house. It's strange, strange for all of us. But I think we're doing ok.


cailinos said...

I so enjoy your posts...sometimes mundane topics but seen through an electron 'scope, showing me what I didn't know about real life. Btw..since le Dogue is already a bittov a handful, ever considered getting him a pal? Might take need for reassurance off u. (Like I know what I'm talking about, dogwise. Not)
Lovely stuff, ur most admirable... and DON'T ARGUE!!

Red Shoes said...

I love the two of you for respecting each other so well. I wish that my friend's breakup/divorce could be as civil. It's hell,no matter what, but when one is making the other's life as miserable as they can possibly think of ways to do, it's even worse.

WV is "upeldog" which is perhaps what you call a companion dog for the whippet.

Sarah L. said...

I so understand. Last year I divorced and then would go stay at my old house, which still contained most of my stuff (my tiny apartment couldn't handle it all), to pet-sit for my 2 cats and dog, while the "wasband" was away. I would sleep on the couch in front of the (sole heat source) fireplace and the pets would sit on me, or very, very close, because they somehow understood that the time was limited. I remained friends with the neighbors, and used to go to dinner at their houses, and share in their gardening, as though I still just lived next door. It was very strange. I would knock too. Always.

You are doing an amazing job. I am proud of you.

Laura and Ben said...

I'm glad that you two are being so nice to each other. It must make a hard situation so much more bearable. Well done you!

Anonymous said...

You are doing wonderfully well, and I wholeheartedly admire your moxie.

You might be surprised to know how much your honesty and openness helps those across the Interwebs in Parallel Lives get through another day. Thanks for that.

Anonymous said...

...and I just noticed the irony in having posted that last comment anonymously. I also admire your devil-may-care courage. Thanks for that too.

connie said...

It's all so moving - this journey, you, the CFO, the boys and the dog - the affects on you all and how you put it all into the words you do.

WrathofDawn said...

You are doing wonderfully well. I know this because my "wasband" is such a huge puckered arse I have refused to speak to him for years. Your way is much, much better for your children.

Anonymous said...

Very poignant post, you and the CFO are to be commended for behaving in such a mature and responsible way. The boys will remember your dignity and togetherness in spite of the divorce. Sounds like you're doing a fantastic job, an example to any couple splitting up.

Heather said...

Divorce, separation, it is all so painful enough, it is wonderful to hear of two people making it as easy on each other as they can. And yet still the pain from that situation bounces off the page.

GingerB said...

Sorry it is all so strange over there, but well done for being so peaceful. That is incredibly rare and so much better for all concerned. I am duly impressed. And no, do not get another dog to console the weepette, because one dog plus one dog is most certainly more than two.

bevchen said...

You are amazing.

jen hit the roof said...

I think it's wonderful how civilised you both are. It has taken 6 long years for myself and my ex-husband to reach slightly amicable. And the way you share the childcare is fantastic. I believe, in theory, in shared custody. Unfortunately, it's not 50/50 any more, more 80/20 in favour of me, as my ex is very busy with his new wife and two daughters. But my boys don't notice, or suffer for it, so we just plod on. I'm not bitter, honest.

Anonymous said...

It's way waaaaay too civilised. I'm suspicious. Were you serenely typing while his body was stuffed behind the sofa?


Iheartfashion said...

I sincerely admire how well you've handled this whole thing. So much better for your boys.