This past weekend, Mr. E, the kids and I took a trip up to Beverly, Mass. where Mr. E’s best friend D and his family live. Their 3-story house should probably be deemed a mansion, but it was built in the late 1800s, paint on ceilings and walls were peeling in several rooms, and only one of the bathrooms was really accessible for showers and baths. Yet the home is a 15-minute walk from the ocean and has a magical charm to it.
We brought with us the 6-person tent Mr. E bought right before the kids came that we’ve “camped” out in several nights before, which gives us a cozy family feel. Mr. E can sleep with all his loved ones in touching distance, and when the kids fall asleep, we can cozy up and talk late into the night. One particular night, after we watched D’s daughter in a play recital, I was feeling especially close and lovey-dovey with Mr. E. Part of it might have been because Mr. E had the video camera to record her and I had my super-zoom camera to capture moments, and afterward Mr. E said something about imagining what it might be like seeing our own child in a play or special event like this. It weirded me out a little just because I had been thinking the same thing.
Anyway, that night after we’d enjoyed some intimate moments, I had my guard down for the first time in a really long time. “Something has changed,” Mr. E said. “You haven’t been able to keep your hands off me all day, and every time you look at me, you’re smiling. You just want to be by my side. You really love me, don’t you?”
“Hmm…maybe,” I teased.
“What has changed?” he wondered, hugging me tightly. I told him that I was finally letting my walls down. For so long, I’d been thinking I didn’t deserve to have this kind of happiness with commitment. All the men I’d been in relationships with over the last several years didn’t offer me stability with passion. It was always one or the other. Or if the men offered me both, I just didn’t feel the same connection back. That’s why it scared and hurt me so much when I felt it deep in my bones so early on that I had finally found it with Mr. E, but he eventually had to return to FDG to see if there was more to their story or not. I became scared I was wrong. I wondered if V-Man was the right one for me after all. He’d been patiently waiting all this time, hadn’t he?
Yet somehow Mr. E and I wound up back together. Both hurt and wary, but willing to give this another try. Each passing struggle made us stronger. When the kids came the last day of July, something powerful and beautiful began to flicker and now, two and half weeks later, we’re at full flame. I told him my fears of ever becoming a mother after I became so sick. V-Man was wary of having kids any time “soon”, and I began to wonder if having kids was that crucial to me any.
Yet with Mr. E’s kids, I found myself in this pseudo-stepmother role. I fell in love, and they took to me immediately. Whether we were monkeying around on the playground or riding all the rides together as a group at the indoor water park the second weekend they were here, being with them has always felt natural. I read them bedtime stories in a British accent and love how they lose themselves in the story and watch me transfixed. His almost 11-year-old son told me I was the only woman who wasn’t a member of his family that he loves. Melt. The 9-year-old daughter loves to snuggle, to touch my hair, to compliment me and want to use my hair products, to have toenails the same color as mine, etc.
I find myself stepping into discipline them when they get out of hand, in a manner that Mr. E can appreciate. “You are a wonderful mama,” he likes to say.
“Now what do you think about becoming a mother?” he asked me that night in the tent.
“I know it’s what I still want,” I admitted. “And I can do it.”
“You don’t have to give up any of the things you want anymore,” he told me, stroking my hair. “You don’t have to run anymore and sabotage your happiness. You don’t have to be scared. You can have all the things you want and have ever dreamed for your life. Sure, dreams change their shape over time–when things happen and with whom they will happen change. But you don’t have to sacrifice the things that mean the most to your happiness.”
The thing is, I actually am starting to believe him. Believe in us. Someone does love me that much. Who when I try to run, writes me love songs and brings flowers. Who when I try to hide when I am sick, brings food, a movie, the kids and himself to keep me company. He can clearly see and dearly wants a future with me, and the kids are already seeing summer after summer with me here too. It scares us both a little, but in that excited “could-this-really-be-it?” way. Time will tell, of course. But I like the direction it’s taking now.
The rest of the weekend was magical. Every spare moment alone we could find together, we took full advantage of. We held hands wading in the water. I took photos of the glittering moonlight dancing on the water. We laughed and told stories with his old friends. We fondly watched all the children playing together and running around with dirt caked on their feet. The weekend ended, but we all are already looking forward to this one when we get to head up there again.