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.