Chapter 27: The New Normal

Joy and I were getting along just fine–just like we always did. Fortunately (more like unfortunately), we were extremely accustomed to tragedy and had the battle scars to prove it. We went on raising our children as best we could, and we both cared for each other’s children as if they were our own. We were in survival mode…again. We had to create as normal an environment as possible.

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I think it was easier for Joy though. She was already an excellent mother, and of course Aiden loved her and looked up to her. It was me who struggled with my new role as single father. As Aiden grew older, he grew wiser. He was very smart and quick to pick up on details. Unfortunately, he had already figured out what happened between his mom and me before I got a chance to tell him. Because he had self-assurance, he was confident in what he said. It all started when I wanted to have “the talk” with him.

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“Heeey, son. Let me talk to you for a second.”

“Is this gonna take long? I have school in like less than an hour.”

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“Nah, it won’t take long. I just ummm…well, you see…you’re getting older, and you will find that things are…different now.”

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“Are you seriously having this conversation with me right now? I seriously don’t have time for this. And, seriously…I don’t want to hear it from YOU!”

“Whoa whoa whoa! I don’t know who you think you’re talking to, but I KNOW you’re not speaking to me that way!”

“You killed mom! I’ll speak to you any way I want,” he screamed and ran out the door.

I admit…that was horrible timing. I will definitely revisit this with him another time.

Ava wasted no time jumping into her new-found freedom. She has been spending a lot of time away from home, and when she is home she has friends over. Well, just one friend really. It doesn’t look serious, but we’ll see what happens. Joy hasn’t said anything about it, so it may not be going anywhere.

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The next Saturday morning, I decided to revisit the conversation from earlier in the week.

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“Son, are you ready to try this again?”

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“UGH! Dad! Come on! I told you already. I don’t want to hear this!”

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“I already know everything! You screwed some other woman and got her pregnant and mom was soo upset she literally EXERCISED TO DEATH!”

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“What do you want from me, Aiden? You don’t want to hear my side, you WON’T hear my side, so what do you want?”

“I want you to stop pretending that you’re this perfect dad who thinks he can actually give me advice!”

He stormed out of the room and went outside to sit at the bar. I let him cool down for a little while before I went out to him.

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“Son,” I said gently. “I’m going to talk now, and you’re going to sit here and listen without interruption. Understand?”

“Yeah, whatever.”

I wanted to wring his neck for being so disrespectful, but I realized that was the best I was going to be able to get out of him.

“Before I met your mother, I had a girlfriend. I hadn’t asked her to marry me yet, but I was planning to. When I met your mother, I was still with her. I never broke up with her, I never told her I met someone else…I just stopped talking to her. I still loved her very much, but I loved your mother too. At that point, I didn’t really know what I should have done. I was in love with two women, and I wasn’t going to marry either of them then. But then we got pregnant with you. By that time I was very much in love with your mom and wanted to marry her anyway. So we got married. Shortly after, my girlfriend came back in the picture, and I realized what I had done. I married someone while I was already in a relationship! She got to me, and we did what we did, and that’s how Thaddeus got here but I didn’t know about that until much later. You know the rest. I’m telling you this not just to prove your point that I’m a rotten human being and I shouldn’t be giving anyone relational advice. I’m telling you this because you’re my son and I love you and I don’t want you to end up like me! I want you to be able to avoid life’s pitfalls. I don’t want you to go around screwing everything that walks and have multiple families. I don’t want one of your kids thinking that you hate him because you’re not around and the other kid thinking that you’re a scumbag because you have another kid! I want you to be smart and not ruled my your emotions. Learn from my mistakes!”

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“And another thing…I’ve made a ton of mistakes in my life, but remember, you came out of a mistake! I never should have started talking to your mother, but I’m not going to apologize for that because without her I wouldn’t have you!”

We sat in silence for a while. That was his way of accepting my words. And we never talked about it again.

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