I lost an enormous amount of money fighting my ex-wife’s move-away with our kids four years ago. Likewise, if I could mint the emotional energy and turmoil I expended in the long, drawn-out battle to keep my children nearby I could have paid back all that and be living like a king.
First, I couldn’t imagine that she would actually do it. The woman I thought I knew wasn’t that nasty, bitter or vengeful.
When she first approached me about the move-away, it was to be closer to her family and a man she anticipated marrying. Those things were more important to her than her own kids having their father nearby. I said, “NO.”
When we actually made it to court her reason had morphed into a “financial necessity,” upon the advice of a lawyer to change tactics. She claimed in front of a judge that she had to move to where she had brighter chances of getting a job and cheaper housing. I don’t think she had spent a single minute searching for work in our state, nor did she have a job waiting for her in the new state. I had owned a business which gave me the flexibility to watch our children after school and attend school functions as needed. My ex’s mother, however, was apparently going to be much more help even though she only lived in the new state 6 months out of the year.
Everyone I spoke to was certain I’d win the case. I lost.
Although I have no evidence, I believe my homosexuality played a huge role in both my ex-wife’s desire to move as well as the judge’s decision to grant her the move-away.
It was the lowest, the most emotional, the most devastating experience I’ve ever had. I felt hate, anger, betrayal and hopelessness. It was harder than the death of my mother, harder than coming out, harder than leaving Mormonism, and harder than the actual divorce combined.
Then I received a gift.
I don’t remember exactly how or when it happened, but I quickly realized that I might have been the loser in family court, but I had to choose moving forward if I were to remain the loser. None of those feelings I described two paragraphs above were going to help me remain a good father.
But I resolved fairly quickly that I would both forgive and deal with the new reality. It was the most transformational, peaceful, “spiritual” event in my life. I didn’t forgive because I believed it to be “right” or god’s way. I forgave for my kids and for myself.
I arranged to meet with my ex-wife in person alone and discussed the new reality humbly and calmly betraying every emotion I had felt for the full year and a half prior. I wanted to lash out and call her a liar like she had done to me. I didn’t drag out the facts or insist I was right.
Since that time, I have applied for jobs in the new location… and I got one! Only, when the offer came they asked me to remain in my home state instead. I took the job anyway to escape further financial ruin, but I moved 2 hours closer to the kids. Now it’s only 4 hours away rather than 6.
And the odd thing is… I’ve come to like it.
No, I don’t enjoy being far from the kids. I’ve come to enjoy the times that I have the kids more with the distance. When they’re with me, they are with their Dad only and it’s our time. Mom isn’t just a few miles away. We get to spend most of their school holidays for several weeks at a time… with just US. And it’s all during their down time. They’re not doing homework. I’m not having to chauffeur.
My current job is primarily out of my home office and it’s flexible enough that I can pay attention to them and still put in a full day’s work during the summer. I also travel occasionally for work and it’s afforded us some fun experiences. I took 2 of my kids to San Francisco with me back in March. The other two are flying out to Chicago on Friday to spend Labor Day weekend with me after a sales meeting there. A colleague got us into Disneyland for free this Summer.
Things are good right now. I’m incredibly fortunate.
And now when I occasionally ponder moving to be closer to them I’m not certain it is the right answer anymore. They’ve told me several times that they like the current set-up… two homes in two locations.
Is it bad that I am beginning to think that THIS might actually be better?
I miss not tucking them in more regularly or having some of the routine on a weekly basis. I wish I knew their friends and teachers better. I miss some of their activities…sports and such (although I still make an effort to be there when I can). I know that they know I love them…and like them. And I know they love and like me.
But as the kids get older, they want to be with their friends more and more rather than driving 4 hours away to see Dad. My kids are growing to despise road trips. If I lived nearer they could be with friends AND come to Dad’s.
I don’t miss the ex-in-law tension on a regular basis. I don’t miss the back and forth every couple of days. I don’t miss having to interact with their mother more frequently. I could move there and my ex could just as easily move somewhere else and then I’d be stuck alone again in a place I dislike.
I don’t want to live where they live. Without them, I’d never move to that location. It is homogenous, stale, bland, cookie-cutter and lacks almost anything of interest. That said, my kids are still more important that all that to me.
Part of me wants to stop even considering it, or to just make it happen. I am just unsure now of what is truly best for them.