I’ve said it before: I absolutely did not feel any pressure. Bachelor #5 told me not to, so I didn’t. I simply wasn’t ready to think much about anything, especially something of THAT magnitude. However, I couldn’t help but notice some things.
Bachelor #5 took the time to chat with my kids every time he came to pick me up. They really liked him. Even my teenagers would stop what they were doing to talk to him and hang out with him and they didn’t do that with anyone! In those moments, I felt like our family was complete again. And then a thought would jolt me and I’d realize, “No, this is just a man I’m dating who is talking to my kids.” However, it sure felt like something else. But I pushed those thoughts out of my mind.
He went to Hawaii with his sons for one week. And I, the independent single mother of four who had weathered some pretty difficult storms of an unexpected life, felt a void like I can’t describe while he was gone. I attempted to occupy myself with other things (and other men) in his absence, but nothing helped. It was one of the longest weeks of my life. THAT was unexpected. But I didn’t let myself think about that, either.
Then he had my children and I over to his home for a “family night,” stories, games and dessert, one evening. He had separate activities for my younger children and my older teens, and spent one-on-one time with each. He was fun, a great host, and I smiled inside as I intentionally sat there and watched him do it all: keep a busy four-year-old occupied and happy, make a 10-year-old smile and feel important, delight a teenage girl and relate to her (I think he even sang a song for her), and make a teenage boy laugh and stay entertained… while at the same time managing to cook dessert for all of us as he composed a poem about toenail clippings and sausages using 8 words from 8 different foreign languages in minutes. (It was part of a game we were playing. I about fell off my chair when I saw that not only did he instantly and easily know as many words as he needed for the poem, he wrote an amazing and hilarious poem that made us all laugh.)
As I observed him doing all of the above that night, I couldn’t stop my thoughts. I even remember where I was sitting when they came. “Andrea, this feels like you are ‘home.’ It is more than comfortable. It doesn’t feel like you are with a man you’re dating, it feels the way marriage felt; like you are with your family and your family is whole and complete again. You like this man most when you’re alone with him, or when you’re in his home or your home, with the children.”
But I still didn’t get it. (Or let myself get it.) I thought I had to be imagining those feelings. They couldn’t be real, could they? But as I looked around at my children, smiling and laughing, no trace of devastation, sorrow or sadness in their eyes, I wasn’t so sure.
As we left to go home, walking toward the car, my daughter and I were alone and she looked at me and said, “You love him.”
Of course I didn’t!
I immediately launched into what had become my standard explanation and description, “No, he is just a nice older man…blah, blah, blah,” and she shook her head at me in total disbelief. Probably wondering, “Is my mom REALLY that dense?” She gave me a list of evidences and I denied them all, but she moved ahead and walked away, absolutely not believing me, or probably, how blind her mother was!
“Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread.” (Richard Wright)
Thank goodness for a beautiful, capable, amazing, selfless, mature, wise and perceptive daughter who was possibly more self-aware of her mother than her mother was!
And as I followed her to the car I was stunned to realize, in that moment, that she might be right.