My ex divorced me in 2005, when my daughter (“Jane”) was four. I was in jail at the time, serving a two year sentence for doing stupid stuff. My ex got sole custody of course.
After jail I couldn’t get anything besides minimum wage work. I was bound to child support but of course missed payments, which put me close to parole violation and more jail. It was a bad time and the idea of me trying to gain rights to see my daughter was impossible. I was often homeless and I was also doing more stupid stuff. My ex rightfully cut me out of my daughter’s life. I didn’t fight it.
Seven years ago I got a janitor job for a commercial cleaning company. The owner hires a lot of people trying to come back after doing stupid stuff, and I was trying. After a year I was promoted to crew lead. Then a year later to shift manager, and two years ago operations manager. I finally got my stuff together.
As I advanced I met my child support payments and began working off back payments too. I got a decent apartment, a car. My ex had remarried and I still couldn’t see Jane, but three years ago when she turned 15 she was allowed to connect with me via social media. Eventually we were emailing privately, and she was sharing her feelings, fears and dreams. We confronted my abandonment of her, and Jane forgave me. She confided in me that her home life wasn’t great, and I listened and empathized.
When Jane turned 16 her mother agreed that we could meet face-to-face. It went well and led to monthly dinners and unaccompanied visits. I live 100 miles from them but gladly do the drive. We have the best talks and she is wonderful.
Jane applied to colleges last year and was accepted with a partial scholarship to her top choice, a prestigious university in my hometown. I live a mile from campus. Her mother has no savings and I can’t afford to pay for much, so Jane is getting loans. She asked me if she could live with me to reduce her expenses. Her mother wasn’t happy with the idea but said she wouldn’t stand in the way of it.
I bought a townhouse last year and I do have plenty of space, but at first I was reluctant. I haven’t lived with another person in years, let alone an 18 year old girl. What would the ground rules be? Was I supposed to be like a roommate or a dad? I’ve never succeeded as either.
Jane and I talked and emailed a lot about my concerns, and hers, and came to some all around understandings. I agreed to let her live with me, no rent or money for food expected. She will move in summer of 2020 and begin classes in September. I am really excited.