Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Caretaker's Cottage

The current living arrangement that K and I have is not sustainable over the long term.  I had hoped we would be able to put up with it until she finished school in 2 years, but it is becoming more and more apparent, that we will not make it that long.  So K and I have been talking about what kind of situation we want to live in.  Because AJ, is in her long range plan, she has been talking about it with him too.

K would also like to have several acres of land so she can bring her horse too, which would same her a fair chunk of money.  This time last year, before she met AJ, we assumed we would buy property together and live together with the  kids.  We would not necessarily live in the same house, but on the same property.  Now that AJ is in the picture, they are talking about buying together and I would basically rent from them, at least as long as my kids are young.  As they grow up and move away, I will probably too, leaving K and AJ to live there together.  

So K has been talking to me about what I want, need and could accept.  She has been talking to AJ about what he wants, needs, or could accept.  Last night the three of us got together to talk about it.

My needs:

Minimally I need a room with a private bathroom (3/4 bath is fine).  I don't want to be sharing a bath with the kids and if T comes over, I want to be able to fool around and take a shower afterward without walking down the hall in a robe.

Another option is the Katrina Cottage.  (No kidding.  Look here)  These are little houses that can be built most anywhere and many of them would be perfect for me.   This could be built on the same property as the house K & AJ and the kids live in.  It would give me easy access to the kids and them easy access to me.  At the same time it would give me and K the privacy we deserve.  T could come over and we could watch TV on my couch, in my living room.  Then we could sit out on my porch on a warm summer evening to look at the stars before retiring to my bedroom to fall asleep in each others arms.  I really like this option.

Next would be the in-law apartment.  A small one bedroom apartment attached to the main house.  It may, or may not have it's own entrance.  I probably don't need a full kitchen.  This would cost more than just a bedroom, but less than a free standing cottage.  I think I would get the privacy I need here along with the feeling of family that I want.

All of these options are short term.  Eventually (I hope and pray) T and I will live together as partners (as husbands?) and I doubt he will want to leave his fabulous house to move into my cottage.  I don't know what that will look like for us (or really even if, but I keep hoping) but the reality is I will not live in the cottage on K's horse farm forever.  A cottage or a self-contained in-law apartment would be best for them because they could rent it and make a little extra money that way.  Alternatively, it could be a place that my middle son, who is partially disabled, could live, because he may not be able to live on his own easily.

I think that AJ is leaning toward the apartment or the cottage choice.  While he is a good sport and pretty accepting of me, I think the limit might be reached if I am actually living in his house (or rather his and K's house).  Right now I don't know how much he will want he hanging around all the time.  I can't really blame him for that and to be fair, he has been very accepting of our fucked up situation.

This then makes me think about my kids.  I strongly feel that connections are forged and maintained best by frequent and close physical proximity.  I know I have a connection with the kids that will last forever.  I do not worry the kids, even the youngest ones, will eventually come to see AJ as their dad rather than me.  I know that K will not let that happen and there really is not indication that AJ is eager to sign up for parenting responsibilities for my kids anyway.  But I think about it anyway.  If I am not around and lot as they are growing up, will those relationships not be as strong?   I also wonder if they will get better.  K will be living with them all the time (with me in the apartment or cottage) and she will be doing the day to day discipline.  Maybe they will see me as the "good parent" because I will be calmer and do less yelling.  Hmmm.

On the other hand, it's not like I am moving out of state.  If I am living in a cottage 100 feet away from the main house, it should be pretty easy to maintain a connection to the kids.  And to K.

I am sure I am reading more into all of this than I need to.  I also know there is a lot that needs to happen before anything can happen.  Both AJ and I need to sell our houses.  Even in today's market, we both have some equity in our houses.  Proceeds from the sale of his house will buy the property.  Money from the sale of mine will go to building my cottage.  

There is still a fair amount of work to do to figure out the logistics of all of this, but we will figure it out.  I'll keep you posted.


T said...

Why do you have to feel like you need acceptance from AJ on a one-way basis?

As far as taking of the kids, I know, regardless of how far away you live, you will be with the kids most of the time, just like you are now. I don't think you have to dwell into that too much.

As far as the proposed living arrangement, I don't think it's a good idea at all. You don't know if the relationship between AJ and K will last. If it won't, you'll end up in a bigger mess. AJ and K have not spent that much time with the kids from both sides as a family unit. Things won't be as rosy as it seems now.

My advise is to have your own place close to their house if they decided to live together. You can be with the kids there or at your house. You can come back to your house at night. The kids can come to live with you if/when problems arise.

On my end, you know I'm working hard toward our goal. Worse come, when the kids are adults, I can get a little house near my house, and I can split my time. Who knows, by that time, things will be different, and we'll be together.

RB said...

T is right. Don't get intertwined with AJ and K.....that could get very messy down the road.

SC Guy said...

As the child of parents who split up when I was about seven, I can offer a few observations. What matters most is that you are involved with your kids and spend quality time with them. That can happend by living close to them, have them over, and most importantly doing things with them. All that can be accomplished without living in the same house (or on the same property). Further, living in the house with K and AJ could send some really confusing messages to your kids, which might actaully make things worse for the kids.

K and AJ need to have a chance to built their lives together. Having another person under the roof could make that more difficult.

Moving on is tough. I know, becuase I am having huge struggeles with the concept myself. In the end it might be best for everyone.

Biki said...

I have to agree with everyone here. Living in the house could end up being a very bad thing indeed. The cottage would be ok, but I think they should pay for it, and you pay them rent. That way when its time for you to move, its nice and clean.

But I dont actually think you need to live that close to them. As long as you are nearby, that should be good. Even better if your new home is in their school district, where they can ride the bus to your new home.

Good luck, and remember, you are trying to untie yourself from K, not make more strings to tie you two together.

Anonymous said...

It looks like you're trying to stay tied to K. You won't have failed at your obligations to your family if you go ahead and cut the K strings. You don't need to live on the same property in order to spend a lot of time with your kids, as long as you live close by. It sounds like AJ has been very patient. The other commenters have good advice.

Anonymous said...

The one value of an acrimonious divorce is role clarity :) While I continue to value much about my former spouse, I live happily with my T now and hope very much the same for her. I try not to ask.

The custodial parent certainly suuports the kids more emotionally. My kids wanted me as custodial parent and still have 10 times as much contact with me as they do with their mother. In return, I try never to make demeaning comments about her. Holidays have been the hardest to plan. -- Ron