Really, REALLY hit me.
For close to 15 years every Sunday my wife and I had a standing invitation for Sunday family barbecues at her uncle's place. A tradition I loved, and, even as my marriage was falling apart, continued to love and loved introducing my kids to.
In the year that we've been divorced and living apart, various strains and interpersonal problems have meant I only get to see my kids 2 - 3 times a week, including all day Saturday.
Yesterday my ex had won tickets to the local Six Flags and wanted to take our oldest, and asked me to come take care of the younguns, toddlers. I happily obliged. Given that my friends all live out-of-province, I live a very solitary life these days. Coupled with scrabbling to get by working freelance leaves me less than ideal means to form a "One Man Wolf Pack" lifestyle. The only time I really feel like a normal Human being is when I get to see my kids.
But my ex asked me to bring them to her uncles in time for supper. Not a problem, so I thought. Then, I dropped them off. I was greeted with the usual "Highs" and "How you doings" from my ex's aunts, uncle and cousins, who took charge of the babies and gave me a "see ya later!"
A year ago these people were family; I'd have had an argument if I'd have tried to leave without at least having a beer or a burger or hanging a bit.
A year ago these people were family; now I'm a stranger to them.