It’s taken me fifteen weeks to write this post. I needed time to figure out how I was going to tell my adoring fans that The Girlfriend Mom is no longer a girlfriend. Well, that’s one way of doing it.
Life is funny. Not funny like watching someone trip over their own feet and then trying to save themselves from face planting. Funny as in curious and ever so surprising. For all of my protestations about not wanting kids, coupled with hesitations about being in a relationship with a divorced father, I now find myself feeling grateful for having the Girlfriend Mom kids in my life. As it turns out, the kids are one of the most beautiful results of my relationship with their father.
My ex-boyfriend (wow, that doesn’t flow fluidly off the keyboard) and I did not have a plan for how we were going to tell the kids, or what we were going to tell them. For my part, I will cop to denial and hoping that dad would take the lead. For his part, I think it was more comfortable for him to simply say that, “we were taking a break,” and let the chips fall where they may. Neither approach dealt with the issue and as a result I felt off balance and alone.
Maintaining a relationship with them was paramount for me, so I forged ahead and started a dialogue independent of their father. After seven and a half years (save a year and a half due to our first breakup) I wasn’t prepared to walk away or fade to black. I didn’t want the kids to feel abandoned. They had already gone through one divorce and I didn’t want to make things difficult or uncomfortable for them. Perhaps it was I who didn’t want to feel abandoned.
I questioned what rights I had as a Girlfriend Mom. What demands could I make on their time? There isn’t a list in a ‘how to’ book on the topic. I debated with myself, and cried. A lot. Everything was falling apart. The life that I had been building for so many years was quickly slipping through my fingers, so I grabbed the kids and held on.
Throughout the relationship, I had many fears and doubts, as evidenced by my many posts. But in the face of those fears and doubts, I planted seeds, I nurtured the relationships and I watched us grow into a pretty high functioning blended family. Not always easy.
I was nervous to reach out to them. Would they care if we stayed in touch? Did they even notice that I was gone? Was I being dramatical? Besides, they had their own lives, friends, school, jobs, and they were still kids.
I had lost their father. I didn’t think that I could’ve handled losing them as well. When I did reach out, their response warmed my soul. I told them that I would always be there for them and that I hoped to always be in their lives.
I was so scared and anxious when I first met the kids. How could I go from childless by choice, to having two small kids in my life? Over the years I saw parts of myself that I never knew existed. Unattractive parts. Who needs that? And yet, something made me want to stay. Something told me to hang on and push through because something wonderful was waiting for me on the other side. Something. Something that looked a lot like love.
The first time I experienced the kind of love that practically rips your heart out of your chest, was when I was leaving for Dubai, two summers ago, to teach Pilates. I bent down to say good-bye to my Girlfriend Mom son, who was dozing off on the couch. He put his little boy hands around my neck and pulled my face down close to his and he cried. I didn’t know that it was possible to feel such pain and love simultaneously.
I had been so worried that we weren’t going to bond, let alone love someone else’s kids. I was never the same after that.
Now what? Is this the next chapter of The Girlfriend Mom- or is it The Ex-Girlfriend Mom now? Ours is not a conventional, traditional, or clear situation. I see challenges ahead, with messy moments thrown in. I also know that no one knows anything about anything, especially about the future. So bring it.
Yesterday I thanked my Girlfriend Mom daughter for allowing me the privilege to experience the joy of having kids in my life. “You’re welcome,” she said. In a million years, I never would’ve dreamed of having that exchange. Isn’t life funny.