It was just a few days after I wrote this post, introducing the Not Boyfriend to all of you, that something wonderful and fortuitous happened. Those whispers of being in love to my most trusted women-friends and the universe, with the brush of my fingertips on the keyboard, suddenly felt bigger, louder, more vulnerable. I was putting it (this relationship) and him (the Not Boyfriend) and also that (my beating heart) out there.
I was ready. I was afraid. I was gooby for this guy.
Just to really mess with your timeline (but you can totally handle it, right?), these pics are from New Year's Eve and were added to emphasize that we're FUN, we like FUNNY people, and also, we're FUNNY. If you can't say that with googly eyes on your forehead, facepaint that resembles death, and a June Cleaver apron, what can you say it with?
Still, I needed to keep what was happening and been happening for nearly a year at that point with the Not Boyfriend compartmentalized. In a little box on the screen. On Skype in the wee hours after the small child was fast asleep. During weekends when Lil E was with his dad. I was was waiting for my child to be ready for me to share this part of my life I'd worked hard to keep distanced from him.
I was waiting for Lil E's comments to subside. The suggestions that maybe, one day, we could go on vacation with Daddy. Or perhaps we'd like to go stay with his other grandma and grandpa in Portland for our vacation together next summer. And if I decide I'd ever like to have a baby, what if that baby's daddy was HIS daddy. To me, those words were a tie to the past, the former family life he only vaguely remembers at this point.
I was waiting for it to feel right to reveal that this sensitive, expressive boy's mommy was opening her heart to another man. I was listening and watching and feeling around in the dark of this unknown territory for my way. I wanted it to be the right time. I knew it had to be a better man than the ones who had come before, the men who asked to meet Lil E and the immediate reaction in my head was a silently screamed, "NO NO NO NO."
I was holding out for the "yes." It could be hushed, but I had to hear it.
The words didn't come from the person I expected them to and they came sooner than I thought they would. It almost seemed like, as soon as I made that little proclamation about the Not Boyfriend right here on Sassafrass, the universe tapped the small, bony shoulder of my little boy.
Days later, during those groggy moments between nap time and early evening, he came crawling into my bed next to me, his body stretched out next to me, snapping the row of Silly Bandz on his wrist, tucking his cold feet under me, humming and giggling and pushing me to wake up completely.
"Mommy," he started. He'd been thinking, processing and I could tell by the way he said my name. "What's a boyfriend?"
"Well, what do you think a boyfriend is?" I needed to know what this was all about before I dove in.
"Liiiiiiike someone to go to the movies with and have dinner with and maybe just have a good time with!"
"Also, maybe someone you think is cute and smart and sweet and kind and funny and fun?" I added.
"Yeahhhh," with a pause for more thinking.Then more tell-tale processing came with, "Mommmmy..."
"Yes, my love?" I brushed his hair with my fingers.
"Would you like to have a boyfriend?" And there it was.
"Good! I think it would be good for you to have someone to go to the movies with and have dinner and do fun things."
"That sounds nice. What do you think that person would be like?" I was curious what was churning around on those wheels.
"Mayyyybe someone who likes Star Wars and is funny and likes to hang out and stuff. You know...someone like ME!" And then more decisively added, "Yeah, someone like me."
He interrupted, "And likes to wrestle!"
I continued, "And treats Mommy well."
He nodded, clicking his tongue to underline the agreement.
"I think that would be very nice," I said again. And then the check-in, the serious question among the smiles and snuggles and giggles to imagine not the Not Boyfriend just yet, but the Pretend Boyfriend, the Potential Boyfriend now coming into focus. "Do you feel ready for that? For Mommy to have a boyfriend? It would change some things to share time with someone else."
This nod was exaggerated.
"That would be fun! It would be nice. We would have fun together and do fun things!"
That was my hope, too. But there was more. This was about us, but it marked a shift from what our family once was.
"What about Daddy? What would you think if Daddy had a girlfriend? That would be OK, too, right?" I wasn't trying to pry into that part of his life, but I wanted to hint at the changes that could unfold in both of his homes.
"Ehhh. That's fine." And that was all that needed to be said.
I pulled him closer, turned back to the topic of us, of our house, of who we might someday invite into our part of the family, and I smiled big. At him and time and how things work out.
"I'm glad you told me all this," I whispered. "I love you so."
But really, it had just begun.
Three years after we left our old home, former family and way of life and a year after I first saw the man I knew immediately would mean something different and more, here we were. There was all that waiting. Now there was ready.
It's been several months since that conversation, but this weekend, that amorphous conversation got very real.
I told Lil E that there is a boyfriend and I'd like them to meet. And a few days ago, they did.
Up next: Lil E explains his first impressions of the Not Boyfriend. Then has a little meltdown.