So, I've now been separated from the family dwelling for almost 3 months. For that entire time, we were working on a time-sharing plan for the kids that had them with me not much at all. I could have had a better one, but things got nasty awful quick and I thought it best to let things settle down a bit. To not kick it up another notch in the crazy scale.
This was not a popular decision with my friends and family, as you might imagine, who mostly accused me of letting Madam X get away with whatever she wanted and of me not fighting for my kids enough. And there's probably a bit of truth in all that, too.
Starting today we are on a new and more permanent time-sharing plan. One that STILL doesn't give me the time with the kids that I ought to have, or that I could have had if I had been willing to let it all go to custody arbitration, but I was trying to avoid destroying my children's lives, so I pushed her as hard as I could during mediation and got as good a deal as I could without getting courts involved.
That also wasn't a popular decision. But I think I've got a bit firmer ground to stand on in defending this one.
But in any event, I've spent three months now mostly away from my kids. When it all first started it was hard and it felt really weird, but we were all still family. But by now... I don't know. It's like I've forgotten how to do this. How to be a dad. How to be THEIR dad. I'll have them more now, enough that it will be more regular and normal and involved and everything. Hopefully enough to remember how to do this.
Being a father was everything to me. It was how I defined my entire existence. Not being dad - or not being allowed to really and truly be their dad the way I ought to be - has been the absolutely worst part of all this. I love my kids so much. And I know they love me. I know they want to be here with me. But it still feels kind of artificial and forced and I don't really remember what to do or how to do this right.
Divorce is evil.