Having spent the weekend with the boys, I am completely exhausted. Not having more than as weekend each month to come see them, it is hard not to spend every waking moment possible, focused on them. Which really sucks, because it means that I don't get to spend “normal” family time with them – getting completely wiped aside. Being able to talk to them daily helps, but only so much. Spontaneous discussion of whatever topic happens to be spinning in those little developing brains is half-hazard at best.
But we had fun to say the least. Youngest was his shining, cantankerous little self. He's really getting keen on using his growing, but still sharply limited vocabulary, creating so many more opportunities for the self-righteous indignation of cranky old men. And eldest is really coming into his own now, pressing his neurological tendrils into mid-childhood, despite the many conflicts and instabilities he has faced in his eight short years. It is both sad, but also exciting to catch glimpses of the man he is trying to become.
Parenting from nearly six hundred miles away really sucks. It isn't just the pain of a papa who doesn't get to hug and kiss his boys every night – or even every week. It isn't just the pain of knowing that two boys who have no say in the matter, no control over the situation, really miss their papa so very badly. It isn't even the pain of missing so many exciting ideas and developmental stages. It really sucks to have every visit with them tainted by the sadness that in X number of hours, papa is going to get back in the car and head back along that six hundred mile journey – no more hugs and kisses until next months visit.
It is what it is though. And though it is still some months off, my time for moving down here fast approaches. As it approaches, we are figuring out some of the exciting things we will do to make our time here more interesting and worthwhile. Before we move back to Portland, there are a great many opportunities to take advantage of here – including very inexpensive options for horseback riding lessons for eldest. Things that we can do together to enrich all three of our lives, such as long hikes in the Smoky's and science oriented venues galore – not to mention a zoo membership that costs less than two visits.
In some regards I am actually looking forward to spending some time in Knoxville. There are a lot of excellent and exciting things to explore and science is a big deal down there, thanks to Oak Ridge National Labs and the industry science that has sprung up around it. I am definitely keen to get out to Portland, but will definitely take advantage of what our temporary home has to offer. Including, in a state where religious diversity is what brand of Christian you might be and atheist is a four letter word, a thriving skeptical community.
But all that is still some months off. I am back in Michigan now and very sad. I can almost feel those tiny arms around my neck, hear the frustration of my small son as he struggles to express himself clearly with his words. I can almost see my eldest sitting next to me in the van, talking about the inventions he wants to make, the things he wants us to do and what we might do to get him out of the special school. I am so fucking tired of helplessly trying to effectively parent from six hundred miles away. I am so very tired of my children's frustration at being so sharply limited in what we can do together.
This is especially problematic for eldest, who is used to being able to engage in all sorts of fun and interesting projects with me. We like being able to build stuff together, put together projects together – look up and learn stuff together. This has been a very important part of our relationship in the past - indeed when he was younger, it was a very significant portion of the time we spent together. I was working a lot and so much of our time was spent on the job (he first came to work with me when appropriate at age two) or working on our house as an exchange for rent. And youngest is getting to an age where he can partake in some of the fun.
I will continue this discussion later and intend to continue with this theme. I am really rather keen on writing more about some of the personal issues that I have let fall to the wayside. But I will probably focus this, as much as possible on single parenting – for the moment from a distance. I have rather enjoyed some of the fathering posts of other bloggers and would like to contribute some of my own. While mine will occasionally be rather dark, like this one, I am going to make sure that I intersperse them with fun posts too.
My kids are wonderful, bright and exciting people. What they have done for my life is incomprehensible to me sometimes. I am extremely lucky to have such awesome people in my life and even luckier that they are my kids.