the mother figure

I got home late from work, tossed the mail on the counter and was still taking off my coat as I grabbed the phone to pick up the messages indicated by the blinking red light.

When I heard the voice, I stopped.  Moving.  Breathing.  Thinking.

It was the sweet little voice of James’ 9-year-old daughter, Chelsea, calling from her mother’s home, across the country.  “Hi Miss _____,” she said softly.  “Or Bryn or Sabrina or whoever picks up this message.  It’s Chelsea, and I miss you so much.  I was just talking to my daddy and decided to call you and tell you how much I can’t wait to see you over Spring Break and the summer.  I wish I was in Colorado with you.  Call me back sometime soon.  I miss you.  Bye.”

By the time the voicemail clicked onto the next message, I was sitting on the floor of my foyer, coat half-on/half-off, with damp cheeks.  How I love those children of his…

Dating with kids is a dicey prospect at best.  In previous posts,  I have written about how much it hurt me to say goodbye to his children, and how upset my daughter Bryn was when I told her that James and I had broken up.  They are innocent passengers on our dating journeys, buffeted by the ups and downs of relationships they can’t begin to understand.

Just a short time ago, I was worrying about his three children as if they were my own.  Their mother is pretty chaotic and unstable, and unfortunately more interested in partying and drinking than in them.   The children don’t trust her or feel safe with her, and their reports of  physical and verbal abuse between her and her fiance had James racing to his attorney to evaluate his legal options.   They are smart, good kids caught in a difficult and sad situation.

My time with James’ children meant a lot to me, but I realize now that it was good for them, too.  In fact, I was probably one of the best things to happen to those kids in a long time.  Unlike their own mother, I know how to love completely and without conditions or manipulation.  Even when they pushed me away, I was steady and committed to them.  I cared for and about them without asking for anything in return.  I listened to them and supported them and showered them with affection.  And I offered a role model to the two little girls that they didn’t have anywhere else in their life.

And now I have to let them go.

James always said that the kids came first.  If that’s true, then the best thing he can do for those children is to create a safe, stable family for them.  I hope that he goes out and finds a good woman he can truly love who will love them and nurture them.  I hope that someday he models for them a healthy romantic relationship so that they will have some idea of what one looks like.  I hope that those precious girls have a woman in their life to guide them to their fullest potential, because they have so very much.  I hope that his son will have a mother figure who helps him understand that not all women will make him feel inadequate and helpless.

Is it too much to hope for?  Maybe.  But it’s all I can do now.

So, I picked myself up off the floor, shrugged off my coat, and sent a quick text to Chelsea letting her know that Bryn would call her over the weekend.   Then I said a silent prayer for all of them — that they be happy, healthy, and protected.

It’s all I can do.

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6 Comments

Filed under dating, love, parenthood, relationships, sadness, single mom

6 responses to “the mother figure

  1. Hurts like a bitch huh?
    Blessings on you and yours
    John

  2. Sherry

    That’s heartbreaking.
    And, a wonderful testimony of what this child will always carry with her from having had you in her life.
    In times of chaos, she will be able to draw on the strength and love that you shared with her.

    • Thanks, Sherry. I’m sure I’ll see Chelsea because of her friendship with my daughter, and I hope to see her doing well. I worry for her (and her brother and sister), though. James doesn’t have the best track record for picking women who are good for his kids…. but maybe he’ll do better.

      I can only hope, right?

  3. Oh TPG, this is heartbreaking. And a worry that’s firmly on my radar at the moment. I have now been introduced to Mr Nice’s 3.5 yo son, and he has met my children…So what happens next? What if all these kids grow links of affection towards mummy/daddy’s new partner and then it all goes pear-shaped? What about the relationships between them?
    A budding relationship is so fragile, sometimes the weight of the innocent passengers feels crushing…
    I join you in hoping that James can make the right choice for his children, and this post does bring home the fact that he was a fool to let you go.
    x

  4. The thing that struck me quite literally a few years ago (ya, I’m a slow learner 😆 ) was that our “family” is not left to genetics nor adoption. It’s totally by choice. We can choose who we consider to be “family” regardless- or in spite of- legally binding decisions.

    In this case, despite the lack of a relationship with James, you are clearly “family” to Chelsea. Honestly, I don’t see why you can’t continue a relationship with her. When someone is in your heat, they are in your heart.

    I’d like to think that intelligent and loving parents who are truly concerned with the health and well-being of their children would be mature enough to recognize good relationships their children have with adults whom influence they could benefit from- and be able to let those relationships continue. {{{hugs}}}

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