Friday, June 30, 2006
Coming Apart, Coming Together
Posted by Christopher Pepper
I’m sitting on a twin bed in my parent’s basement in Wisconsin, listening to The Mountain Goats and looking at Cole dozing on the bed next to me. He’s 3 and 3/4 (as he proudly tells almost everyone he meets). We make this trip from our home in San Francisco every year – to see the relatives, get out of the city, and experience some real summer, complete with humidity, fireflies and thunderstorms. I teach high school, which means that right now I’m enjoying the glorious relaxation of summer vacation. My son’s out of preschool until September, and the next couple months will be full of adventures together.
This trip is also providing me with some necessary time to reflect on some of the big turns my life has taken recently. The last time I was here, in December, and Cole’s mom had just told me she was moving out and wanted to break up with me. I spent most of that visit moping around, confused, discouraged and depressed. My life was being torn apart in a way I didn’t choose and didn’t want. My relationship worries were compounded because I was worried about Cole and how all this would affect him.
Now, with half a year of distance, things are looking a lot brighter. My ex and I have managed to stay on friendly terms and have hashed out an initial co-parenting arrangement. She did move out, but she only moved two blocks away, which makes things easier for everyone. Cole definitely seemed to regress in his behavior for a while – ignoring his teachers, hitting and kicking other kids, and clinging to me and crying when I dropped him off at school. Lately, though, he seems to be adjusting to the changes and getting used to his new family arrangements.
That said, I’m sure there will be some hard times ahead, and I’m so glad to have this summer time available to spend full days with him – and give him the opportunity to spend a lot of time with other caring people in his life, like his grandparents. He spent today with his Grandma Jean, picking rhubarb in the backyard, playing with sand at the park, and reading lots and lots of books. I made a side trip to Madison to comb the thrift stores for good vintage shirts, and pick up a few staples from the health food co-op. I made it back for in time for the small town fireworks display, and Cole stayed up through the whole thing – but his eyes were shut for good about one minute after the last boom went off. That’s how summer starts for us.