My children start summer vacation tomorrow. In my youth, this usually meant 2 months at Windrock,often with Mom and with various assorted cousins and aunts, but with only a few weekends when we were joined by our working fathers. There was a week of full family vacation in Maine at Monhegan in there as well, and then a mournful and grudging removal back home a few days before the school year began. It helped that by late August, the air at the shore required sweaters, but for me there is something melancholy that lingers as summer wanes, and unlike my children I do not have the excitement of a new term in September to carry me forward.
This summer I will take half a year's worth of vacation days for that week in Maine and a week at Windrock. I was able to save up and carry forward an additional week, which is needed because my dance card has gotten quite full now that I have embarked on finding a life outside of work and parenting. I am off to Monmouth, NJ for the Revolutionary War reenactment this Saturday, and will spend it as an enthusiastic fan and potential recruit of the 1st New Jersey (Col. Ogden's) Regiment, Continental Line. I will overnight in Philadelphia rather than in camp, for I have personal reasons to be spending time in that city beyond delight in old friends and the usual genealogical and historical factors. Yes indeed.
Next week, my wife and I will find a quiet moment and sit with our children and share the news of our plans for divorce. We do not have all the answers worked out to all of our own questions, but we are very clear that it is the right time for Emily and Elias to hear that they will always have both parents, that we love them deeply and that they are safe and secure. When Viv finds sufficient employment to allow us to divide our assets into two homes, what has long since happened in the heart will be possible in the physical space we occupy. As it is, nothing material will change in the weeks and even months after our conversation with our children, which may ease their acceptance, or may delay their response to it.
There is no avoiding this, but it can be done with love and sensitivity, without blame or panic, and that is the task ahead. It will be painful, but also a relief. We tend to take vacations and long weekends separately in this family, so going to Maine or Windrock without Mom and to Vermont without Dad is customary and comfortable already. Last Saturday we went to the theater together and had a wonderful evening of Gilbert and Sullivan, followed by midnight desserts and children enchanted and asleep in my arms. There are opportunities for grace and togetherness even in the pain of transition to our unmarried lives. Joint custody means we will still be important factors in our children's' lives and give our better angels the incentive to interact well as good parents.
Although I am still in the same place, the same corner of our living room where I have been sleeping since October, my life and heart are in motion. I am not pacing the cage. I am hopeful and have much to hope for. There is work to be done before all that needs to go and abide and come into my life is fully able to do so, but I do not fear it. No indeed. I am just in that place on the edge of the season when change is in the air but the leaves are only just starting to turn. And instead of melancholy, I feel myself turning as well.