London Weekend and perils of dating divorcees with kids

As it’s half term for most Brit kids this week we decided to decamp to London for the last few days before school is back in full swing. We arrived yesterday afternoon and within a couple of hours all of Nick’s kids arrived and my eldest arrived too. We had a rare evening of all being in one place at the same time and made the most of it by going out to a show, last minute bargain tickets. Finding a show to suit everyone’s tastes when you are a group of eight isn’t always easy but we did it and then we plunged ourselves into the danger zone of the Hard Rock Cafe London which had a late night table for 8, with 2 dozing off into their desserts. I still love those places, the vibe, the service, the food. I had an amazing salad which was very generous and came with fab dressings on the side for me to dip into cautiously. Everyone else shoveled down burgers and gross stuff.

I love London it just has an energy about it and I’ve never felt safer in the city than I do these days. It’s still looking pretty hot too since the Olympics refurbishment and all. Getting around on public transport is ridiculously expensive nowadays though and I found myself dreaming back to the days of family travelcards that cost less than a fiver for all day travel on buses and trains. The tourist Oyster card is the way to go if you’re visiting from outside London you can pre buy them here for contactless pre payment at reduced cost. If you visit often then a regular Oyster is a good idea.

Today we’re chilling out and just having some blended family time before Nicks kids have to go home. There is some frostiness of late between Nick and their mother and as often happens the younger kids are being caught up in it and being used as weapons and levers. The two eldest live independently now so they are unaffected and make their own minds up. Nick gave up on battling and now even though the kids see him as not caring he lets it happen their mum’s way to reduce the animosity. He tried telling them he let go because he cares ( a la Caucasian chalk circle) but it doesn’t always penetrate and sometimes he has to accept the dad who doesn’t do enough mantel which he hates to bear.

Before I came along they had a very relaxed arrangement where the kids would visit him if he was around whenever they wanted to and if their mum needed time off from them she would drop them round at his house. Of course Nick still has an arrangement with the kids whereby if they want him he’ll be there, he always makes time as a priority when he’s in London they enjoy coming to my house by the sea too. But she isn’t happy that he isn’t home much during the weekends and she has lost the ‘drop off when she wants to’ facility.

However he has said that he would always take them if she needed him to but for some reason she just doesn’t ask and she can’t be as spontaneous maybe with that arrangement as she was before when he was always just there. So now he has strict access times and limits which actually spite everyone including her but he’s given up fighting it, it was getting nasty and the kids were being affected. So even though he’s in London from Friday to Monday this weekend he is only allowed to see the youngest children from yesterday afternoon to this afternoon.  So they feel pushed out that he’s spending time with my kids and the elder two when really that is not his doing. It’s so messy sometimes and it doesn’t need to be. My kids are visiting their dad and some that side of their family tomorrow afternoon and are going to a christening which he invited us all to but I don’t know the people with the baby and so we decided to let them have their time and we’ll do something with nicks older kids. Such a shame the little ones miss out. Such is the strife at times of divorce, dating with kids and blended families.

I don’t think their mum is bothered about me, their marriage was well and truly done and dusted before I came along but I do think she resents him not being as accessible as he was. Truth is he is as accessible as he was but now he just needs some warning. I try to stay out of it I’ve seen too many families war over children and then the children are grown up and do what they like anyway. Mothers and fathers who have fiercely tried to restrict visitation and access or  control or deny access shattered when the children go off and have a relationship with their father or mother anyway when they are older, parents warring for years only for the kids to grow up and take the high ground and share their time and loyalties much better than the parents ever managed to do. Ex’s battling with new wives and husbands for years and ultimately ending up friends which they could have been all along. I’ve been very fortunate in that myself and my childrens’ father have never had issues over this kind of thing, we’ve always both done what was in the best interests of the kids and we’ve never argued or pulled them about or denied each other or them anything. Simply due to location I’ve had the lion’s share of the responsibility but he’s played his part and the kids are well adjusted and have always had a big part to play in directing their relationships with us themselves, something we both always felt was important.

I don’t know, I think maybe Nick was a kind of convenience to her at times rather than the father, but then the father should be a dependable other to pick up the role when the mother can’t. I don’t know, as I said I prefer to not get involved. When they are with us they are happy and when they are with him they are happy and the older ones like how it works. They don’t complain about having access to and sole use of the house in London when he’s not around so it suits them perfectly for him to be otherwise occupied.

He spent some time alone with the younger ones this afternoon while I took mine to visit a friend and is now dealing with the tears because they don’t want to go. So unfair when we really don’t want them to go either and even more infuriating when his eldest daughter told us that their mum is going out tonight so they are going to be with a babysitter anyway. I don’t like to say it’s spite but what else would you call it? And ultimately who is hurting? Nick is upset but he understands the game being played out, the kids don’t, they just feel like he doesn’t want them here. He tried calling and asking if she would reconsider but she refused point blank and ordered him to get them home on time. I suggested he refused and let her come and get them so that they don’t see him as the big bad wolf but he said that would be a hell for everyone to witness and I guess he was right. I feel for him stuck in this situation, he can’t win and he doesn’t want to win, he just wants to be the best absent father he can be and right now that’s not as easy as he would like it to be.

Anyway tonight we’re being treated to dinner cooked by the man himself and the girls (mine and his two) are going clubbing much later on, we’ll probably be heading to bed by the time they head out. My son is fully occupied with a new guitar he got today and I doubt we’ll see him for a while.  We would have had so much time for the younger ones to have some fun with this evening, it’s a real shame.

It’s strange when the kids get older and you plan time together and they scatter at the first opportunity, I guess we’re still together, we’re having a break and doing something different but with so many people, at different ages, with different interests and needs it has to be accepted that everyone sitting together in one room is a rare thing. Still, being in the same house is good and allowing them the choice to be with us or not is good too, if only they all had that choice. The day will come though, soon and I can see why he’s towing the line on this and not making too many waves. I just know it hurts him and I know he really struggles with this and often feels torn. The obvious answer is for us all to move to London and we will when the time is right, but when he suggested to her that’s what we would eventually do she said that nothing would change, the access arrangement she has put in place will stand regardless of where we live. Big sigh. We’ll see, time might bring a change of heart or he could go to court and get something made legal instead of this dictated arrangement.

I sometime have thought that our relationship is compromising his relationship with his children and wondered if that might make them resentful of him, me, the whole thing but he reassures me that he also has a right to be happy as an individual, besides their father, he has a right to be loved and have companionship and to be happy outside of that precious role he takes very seriously and he feels it is unfair and unkind of anyone to expect him to deny himself happiness. I guess he’s right.

Anyway enough rambling about the perils of broken families and dating divorcee parents, I think someone is going to need some seriously big hugs when he gets back and then the three girls are going to be calling out from a fog of hair spray and perfume for supplies and loans of this that and the other as they get ready to hit the West End.

It’s good to get away.

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