As if my life was not complicated enough, it seems its about to get even more complicated in the not too distant future.
As stated many times, I share my home with the mother of our teenage child. It is by no means unique but it does present a number of challenges. The alternatives and possibly the easier route would have been to do what most people do when a relationship falls apart…separate and go our own way. But, that has never been an option, well, it has of course, but I chose not to go down that route for the sake of my daughter, who at the time of our ‘separation’ was only two years of age. Now 16, it has not been easy and fraught with difficulties and compromises. I would argue, for the most part, compromises travelling in one direction.
Yet, we all know that children are sensitive creatures and separation does leave its mark no matter how amicable. Just the other day, my partner – who went through her own parent’s divorce which was anything but amicable initially and clearly suffered at the time – and I were discussing the children of mutual friends whose parents had recently divorced and the effects it was having on them. It was not a pleasant discussion.
Many moons ago, there was an opportunity to start afresh with a new partner, but that would have meant leaving my then four year-old baby girl with her mother, as I knew I would never have won custody especially as we are not married. Since then there have been a spate of other failed relationships nearly always for the same reason, I would not leave my daughter and they were not prepared to put up with another woman – rightly so.
So, after years of living in the same building, albeit separate bedrooms and to some extent living spaces, we are approaching what I have always said would be the day of reckoning: the day my daughter packs up and goes off to university. That day, I have told many a friend, would be the right time that the mother should move out and find her own place.
To be clear: our current home has been my home for over 30 years, I bought it when I was very, very young and without wishing to go into all the gory details once more of how the mother came about to be living here, the only contribution I have imposed on her is that the media system: cable/phone/broadband be paid for by the her and this only after several years of living together absolutely free. No bills, no shopping, nothing. She did provide most of the clothing for our daughter but that was about it and considering, she was and still is the only one in full time employment, she should have built up a nice tidy nest egg in the bank somewhere.
This however, is not the crux of my imminent complication. My daughter has another two years yet before she set off to Uni. For the past six years I have managed to maintain a relationship with a remarkable woman. Unlike previous failed relationships, this woman has managed to overcome her resentment – to a point – of my daughter’s mother. This I have noticed is always a given: a mutual loathing by both women. The mother aka ‘Miss Jean Brodie’ (see previous posts for explanation) resents the fact that another woman has entered into what she perceives as her domain and more to the point sharing experiences with our child and possibly a whole host of other reasons I’m not wise to, whilst my partner loathes the fact that ‘Miss Brodie’ will not vacate the house and has this stranglehold over yours truly.
It does create a number of difficulties. Friends for example. I have my pre-fatherhood friends and post fatherhood friends. Obviously, my pre-fatherhood friends have no compulsion in adapting and continuing our friendship despite the family situation. But for those who I met through my daughter’s schooling, it puts them in a very awkward position, who do they side with if anyone? This is compounded by the fact that we still live in the same house. So, you can imagine the scenario: they come calling, they find not one woman but both women in the kitchen, each spitting nails at each other and they have to deal with the pair of them. It has the making of a farce. If only. Meal times are also a headache. If the mother is at work, its not an issue. But at weekends, I have no choice but to cook for everyone, sometimes that means for four people. Its happy families or not as the case may well be.
To her credit, my daughter is either unaware of any tension or chooses to ignore them and carries on as though everything is perfectly normal and, to be fair, this is all she has known so, it might well be normal to her. She has never seen her parents fight or have blazing rows, minor ones yes, but as I do not communicate with her mother it avoids any confrontations.
But the real dilemma may come to the fore rather sooner than I had anticipated as for reasons I cannot go into, my partner, who has her own place some 45 minutes away, may lose her home through no fault of her own. This would leave me with little option but to move her in with me in an already overcrowded house. That is to say overcrowded for ‘our house’. That means moving all her possessions and fittings etc into a home which already has a dining table, a sofa, beds all the material baggage one acquires over a lifetime. Not to mention, where on earth is one to live within the home?
I had planned that after ‘Miss Brodie’ moved out, there would be space for my partner’s belongings and those surplus would be moved into a new home abroad somewhere from the sale of my partners house. That was the plan at least.
These latest developments has put a spanner in the works. In a normal household, most people want to have their ‘space’, you don’t want to be under the nose of your partner constantly. That’s fine with three, each one goes into a separate room. But there is no forth room unless you include the kitchen! This is going to change the dynamics somewhat. I am toying with the idea of building a summer house to gain that extra forth room. But then there is the prospect of having two women living in close proximately for at least the next two years, which is going to be stressful for everyone I suspect. I can only hope that ‘Miss Brodie’ throws in the towel and decides to call it quits and finds her own place and get on with her own life.