Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Fall is really the start of the New Year.

Whether in class or not, most lives revolve around the school calendar, settling back into ritual and routine as the new academic year begins. Clearly the students are waiting for the bus each morning, or the roads are full of parents car-pooling, mug in hand, heading to work after. But businesses change, as well, with bargain specials and cut rate clearances, sales increased or decreased because people become bound to their homes, school and routines.

As naturally as the leaves turning and air grown crisper, the football season begins. Building projects that had meandered through conception in spring and the design phase in summer are rushed into production to be finished by Thanksgiving. There is an urgency to firewood deliveries, and the chimney sweeps work overtime. Squirrels gather their nuts.

New to the complicated dynamics of sharing a child, the summer was an introductory lesson with a lot of improvisation, based largely around sleeping one full week at each place and alternating homes for dinner. Summer could be loose and plans changed, the schedule interrupted by travels and camps.

Now, for the sake of my son’s best efforts to focus on schoolwork and sanity (to lead as normal a life as possible), we have graduated to a system of alternating weeks with only one dinner with the off-parent. Weekends end the week for the parent-in-charge who can enjoy lounging (while my son sleeps in) and developing naturally and normally a Saturday all day into a Sunday. The “hand-off” occurs near the evening with enough time for dinner and to settle back into the other home for the week to come.

Last night was our first of many, and the sweet domestic feel of it made my heart glow. Books and new binders (and the trash of their wrappings) spread around him, my son did his homework, calling out an occasional question. I made a real dinner (as opposed to pizza in the middle of a construction site), and later cleaned it up, cleaned up, in fact, the entire apartment. Classical music mellowed the mood.

This set the scene for the year ahead, and it is definitely one with which I can live. So much turmoil has been the tone of our home to date—not just the renovation of the place, but the reconstruction of our lives. The year that began with uncertainty, disruption and tension evolved into a summer of sporadic and spontaneous adventures.

We ate our pizzas in front of movies on the laptop, lived with dust, and experimented with furniture found in garages and the recycle store. It all had an air of impermanence and improvisation, as if any day we would go back to our home on Hayward Street and the family we used to be would be again.

Now the air has changed, the sun sets sooner each evening. We settle into the routine like survivors on an island, determined to make the best of it. A new winter approaches and we are readying our supplies.

And this morning, there are lunches to be made before heading off to school and work.

Please share with your friends


Hayden Tompkins said...

It just sounds so cozy, like a warm cocoon of family goodness. It sounds like your son is handling the transition well.

Anonymous said...

I understand that cozy feeling so well. I experienced it this evening after my sons first day at school. Only us two in the house.

It sounds like it's been a difficult path for you Kip, but now the path seems to be a little smoother now that more comfortable routines are formed.

Be well :-)

Laurie said...

Cozy? I don't know. Kip, are you feeling cozy? You sound to me like you are trying to make the best of a situation you hate. Trying to look normal when you don't feel normal on the inside. I may be really wrong. You sound sad and trying to keep a smile on your face.

Kip de Moll said...

It's something in the middle: the routine brings home the reality in a peaceful way, and it is sad that the life I've known for 20 years is over. Every activity, most thoughts, revolved around my homelife, my wife. To do and think things today without the reflection of how they affect the other is dis-orienting. The issue of approval, the need for outside approval is very strong and distracting.

The smile on my face grows stronger and more real everyday. The sadness and frustrations that lingered over so many days in the past is slowly lifting.

Thank you, Laurie, for contributing,and, Hayden, for highlighting the "Ode" on the Manival. Thank you, Carol, for your faithful returns to read and comment.

With all of this sister energy in my blood, it's amazing to see it expanding over the Internet.

Laurie said...

To look for outside approval, look to God. His grace is sufficient, His mercies new every morning, His love never ending.

Then look inwardly. You have taken a great hit but you are getting up, and continuing to move forward the best you know how. Who could not approve and totally respect that. Look inwardly and you'll see a worthy person whose heart is huge. Your worth comes from God and yourself; Not others' acceptance of you.

Find a group for support. My church has a divorce recovery group. Maybe one around your place will too.

Don't doubt yourself. You are a blessing to me.

Zannah said...

Dad, you make the BEST snadwiches! My two favorite are PB&J and a ham sand with the works! Man how I miss those.....

Oooh! And then the totally awesome chocolate chip cookie dough you make!!!!! Now I'm hungry. :)