“If one could be friendly with women, what a pleasure-the relationship so secret and private compared with relations with men. Why not write about it?” Well said, Virginia Woolf. And yes, although it’s private, I will write about it to. (To the extent of pieces I have permission.)
I said to Susan, “Id like to write about everything that’s happened over the past few weeks. How does that make you feel?” I think I’m OK with it; you do a pretty good job keeping the focus on you. I trust you wont cross any boundaries. “I’ll give you rights to the first read if you want?” No babe, I trust you. Her words felt reassuring, but I was still a little worried.
I hope she’s right. And I’m glad she believes in me.
A few days after the urine-trouble debacle my super-moon insecurities clawed their way out again. It started on a Friday night during of my weekend with the kids. We are a regimented bunch and I’m with the “ know what to except” parenting party. There’s not a lot of room for chaos or surprises. My own disorganization and need for change fits that bill, so when it comes to parenting I adhere to a flowchart. For the most part, my children always know what’s coming and when to except it. (Something I never had as a child, and am probably too clingy with it as an adult.)
Ever since Susan has been in my life as a romantic interest, she’s made a point to be a consistent presence around my little people. The weekends I have the kids she always has dinner with us on Friday nights. However, for one reason or another she skipped two Fridays in a row, although she saw us other times during those weekends. One of the first questions the kids ask me now when I pick them up from school, be it a weekday or weekend, pertains to her. “Is Susan coming today? Where’s Susan? Is she at the house? If I say, “No, she’s working, or No, she’s at home, they give me the ole “Aw Mom, when is she coming over?” I carry a mixed clutch of emotions to grab during and after these conversations. I either choose to smile because they accept her, or fidget anxiously because I’m scared of them getting hurt.
My children already lost the continuity within their family, and although they didn’t lose anyone, they suffered the loss of what was. I knew their father would never change his role in their lives due to my choices, but I don’t have the same assurance with someone who isn’t as invested. My guilt is unmanageable at times and is stealth-like in how it manifests. It wants to protect them so much from any other pain but to the degree of controlling. I know my children will endure troubled amounts of unpleasant life-experiences even if I swarm them with my protective glow. The paradox is when the help-act becomes the protagonist for misery.
Susan and I talk a lot about how to proceed forward with the kids. We’re always huddling, and reassessing. In the beginning, when our commitment to each other deepened, and we decided to start involving the kids, I asked something very serious of her, “If we don’t make it, promise me you won’t completely walk away from them. Please remain in their life in some capacity.” She said, “Yes, I’m working on a relationship with them aside from you. You and I have nothing to do with them, other than there’s three of you and one of me.”
We also talked about the two of us always remaining friends no matter. That sort of became our mantra, “No matter.” She said, “Shannon, we will always be OK. I love you no matter what happens to us. I will always be in your life to some degree. I can’t imagine not knowing you.” We were friends before we started dating, and we really had no idea how things would work out. It was a gamble we were both willing to make. We still don’t know anything for sure other than “We’ll see,” which became our next phrase, but we keep moving forward, and towards each other. I guess we will see.
From Lesbian lift-off, I was anxious about how the kids would receive her, and now I’m nervous about them missing her if things don’t work out between us. It’s the universal parenting problem; you can’t win. All you can do is your best in hopes that everything will turn out somewhere better than tragic. Well, this is what I keep telling myself.
The second Friday she didn’t spend with us was more difficult to juggle than the first. It was the usual question, but not from the typical examiner. My son, Miles who at first had the hardest time adjusting to our new life, was now becoming more vocal about his attachment to her. “Is Susan at home?” No baby, she’s at her house. She can’t come over today. “But Susan always comes over on Friday. When is she coming back? Listen buddy, I know you want to see her but she’s going out with other friends tonight. I think she may be coming over tomorrow.
My delivery was calm because I could tell he was disappointed. I felt clammy and slightly sad. We walked home in silence other than the random complaints about the burning seventy-three degree heat.
By the time we were in the door, I had worked myself up into an appetizer portion of jealousy. “My kids are asking for her and she’s not here. They count on her being here on Fridays.” I felt enough rejection for three of us. The rational part of me knew better. “Shannon, you are being ridiculous. It’s important for Susan to spend time with her other friends. She has other people in her life besides you and the kids. It’s healthy and also helpful to your relationship. This is about you and your issues. ” I slid up and down that slide hot with my fears of abandonment. The ride was like static because I also felt like my children were being left. It was insane, and I knew it, but I couldn’t get over myself.
She came over the next day completely unaware of my mental-maze. I tried to analytically satiate my hungry resentments towards her. The kids were glad to see her and we had a fun evening planned. I was able to successfully console myself by trying to be grateful for the time we shared, instead of focusing on what I thought was lacking-all of her time and attention.
During my head- processing, I concluded that she’d be with us on Sunday as well since she wasn’t available on Friday. I don’t know why, but I thought she was going to spend the day with me carting my kids around to a carnival and then a birthday party. I wasn’t thrilled about the planned activities either but I didn’t have a choice. I just expected her to come along with me, although I knew I’d rather go days without sweets than kid-zone it. (Yes, I’m ok admitting that I don’t REALLY enjoy kid activities. I love my kids, and loving them has nothing to do with liking kid-centered days. I do it because I love them, period.)
When my ideas about Sunday didn’t compliment her options, I felt that pang of rejection again. When she told me her plans; “I’ll come by for a few hours later.” I became cold. My hurt was ice-glazed for freshness with bitterness.
I was making homemade waffles for the kids, stirring with new zeal. Hard crack of the egg followed by a hearty whip. I pressed down hard on the nozzle of the Pam, listening to it sizzle on the iron. My nostrils flared. Glass on glass chimed as I scooped up batter daring it to spill over. My steps quickened and the dog tripped. My jaw tightened like a fist waiting to strike. The machine was steaming when I filled the creases with the vanilla scented mixture. I pressed the lid tight and stood back satisfied, ready to spring.
“No! Forget it we have a lot going on today. I don’t want to worry about meeting up with you and being home at a certain time. You do your thing and we’ll do ours. Do you want a waffle?” No.
She turned, mimicking my body language. I saw myself. Guilty again. Biting down, “I’m sorry I was rude. I had it in my head that you were spending the day with us. I guess we didn’t communicate.” (Or I assumed.)
I quickly lifted the top and forked out the waffle. Her face changed, “I guess not.” I scooped out more batter and dropped it on the iron, eyeing the sides for run-over wondering why restaurants can’t get it right. I tried to stay focused and aware but my thoughts wanted to escape in dark corners. I faked it.
I moved towards her hugging her telling her, “I’m sorry, I got my feelings hurt. I’m feeling a little rejected. I want you to enjoy your day. We really do have a lot going on anyway. Don’t worry about stopping by later, do what you need to do.” I gulped the victim air as my words lied. I believed what I said, but my body didn’t.
My arms drop resuming my place piercing and plating waffles. “Guy’s, they’re ready. Who wants butter?” I had to keep moving, because my insides were starting to tighten and rust. I buttered a triangle and handed it to Susan. “They’re good, just try a bite.”
She tilted, giving in to my request. Momentarily I felt victorious-in my eyes she’d forgiven me for my nasty behavior. My celebration didn’t last long. We ate breakfast. She gathered her things. We hugged goodbye. I turned to the sink of dirty dishes and thought, “Ill always have this, I’m a mom.”
I lifted my chin, “Guy’s, go get dressed for Sunday school. The carnival is today. Do you want to dress up? “No!” “No!” Well then just put on your clothes, and don’t forget to brush your teeth. Hurry, we have to leave soon.” I went back to my dishes.
“Wait, mom, is Susan coming back today?” No buddy. “Is she ever coming back? Yes, why would you say that? “I didn’t mean ever, but like as in ever today.” Oh, no, she’s not coming back today, but you’ll see her the next time you’re here. I closed my eyes and stopped. I threw the sponge down as my eyes held back tears.
I walked down the hall and saw the four chairs we were sitting in on the deck. “I don’t know if I can do this anymore. It hurts too much. There’s too much at stake. I know this my stuff, but I just don’t know if I can work through it right now. But, if I give up on this relationship, it’s like giving up on myself and I’m not willing to do that anymore. This is an opportunity for me to heal but do I have what it takes? “We’ll see.” To be continued.