Let’s Be Frank: The Diary of a Divorced Gay Dad
My ex-husband and I remain friends to this day after being together for 17 years. We catch up on our lives, visit each other’s homes, recommend movies to watch and, most importantly, make unified decisions about our son. We are well past a year of being separated, and Briggs has been living back and forth for 7 months. This article will serve as somewhat of a progress report of things I’ve observed and am still observing. Happily, I can report, the kid is genuinely doing all right.
In the beginning, the whole situation was weird to everyone. We were separated, so my ex-husband and I traded places within our own home so Briggs would never have to leave. As difficult as that was for us, it was the most ideal for him and he wasn’t too affected by it. We made sure to call him every night, but the words “I miss you” started being exchanged more and more. Our counselor advised that we were experiencing, in small part, a bit of what Briggs would go through once the separation period ended. It resonated deep within me, and I generously overcompensated my nurturing side when I was with him, as I’m sure my ex-husband did too.
Fast forward to when I moved out of the house, and it was like going through the looking glass into a strange new world. Everything was different, including the town I lived in, so I had to make it work. Most of that meant making sure it worked for Briggs, too. I set up his room first, so there were no boxes for him to see or deal with. That really mattered to him – he was instantly comfortable there, and still always tells me it’s one of his favorite places. The room adjacent to his has a stunning castle mural covering the wall, left by the previous owners. Normally I would scoff at such a thing, but it’s actually exquisitely done. I made it into Briggs’ playroom, and he has carte blanche to do whatever he wants in there. Bottom line – I had to make this house a home overnight, and I feel that I achieved that, for his sake.
The new routine started off a little rocky. I pick him up from school on Tuesdays, take him to a sport, and then we return to do homework and go right to sleep. It goes like that until Friday or Saturday, when we can have more free time to spend together. He had some trouble adjusting in the beginning – he wasn’t sure where and when he was going. My ex-husband and I made huge calendars to assist him with this. The schedule became clearer to him, and now it’s obvious he enjoys time in both homes. Honest to God, there hasn’t been a single night that he has cried about the divorce. Oh – important to note – we’ve never used the word “divorce” around him. Not once.
Some nights he’ll tell me he misses his new puppy, and all I have to offer is an old cat who bites when taunted. Thankfully, puppies like Facetime, so a few seconds of that usually does the trick. It’s the small battles that my ex-husband and I focus on – if he is noticeably upset about something, we proactively deal with it. If I happen to be upset about something, I mask it as best I can and sit him down for a game of Crazy Eights. Briggs and I are building a really good open communication between us, and I feel that the bond has done wonders for him. Not to say it wouldn’t exist if I had stayed married, but we split our time with him now, so his perception has totally changed. I get his full attention when he is with me, and that is something I will never take for granted.
Overall, I can say all of those concerns, i.e., “omg, he’s going to be a kid with two gay divorced dads,” were completely unfounded. We were a lot more scared than we should have been. Briggs has figured things out, and he’s doing well. In fact he’s doing better than well – he’s doing amazing.
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