Oh, there were posts a-ramblin' round' my brain pan regarding love things and thangs but I just didn't have the heart to write about Valentine's Day.
Not that I was without on that most romantic of demi-holidays - indeed, my cup, though not runneth-ing over, seems steeped with a steaming brew - but I encountered a complication with the wee ones that was cause for pause.
In the almost three years since X and I went our separate ways, I have introduced one woman into their lives. I may not be much of a dad but to my credit I have minimized the confusion that comes with romantic entanglements, to the point where my oldest has set about suggesting potential matches. If that was the end of the story, I wouldn't be writing this, obviously; unfortunately, not all is well that ended well.
Driving home the other night after picking up the brood from the sitter's, the topic-that-will-not-die was again resurrected in the backseat peanut gallery. It began when my littlest one, the effervescent Zeke, asked with all earnestness, "Will Woo be dare when we get home?"
"Woo" is, of course, the one I allowed to get close to my kids, the one of my relationship that I documented somewhat last year (and was copiously documented elsewhere but now those posts have mostly disappeared). Don't get me wrong: I have no regrets and place no blame, it is better to have loved and lost and all that shit. Still, the nascent minds that inhabit my backseat cannot comprehend the concept of finality. Despite stating numerous times that Lu and I were done and that she has a new boyfriend, Lilly, Marni, and Zeke continue to ask when Lu will visit again, will Lu be here for a birthday, when will go camping with Lu and Kaylee again, etc.
Any parent who has been driven past insanity by yammering, howling children cooped up in a car can appreciate my desire at that moment to spin the steering wheel and speed off the side of the nearest bridge. In the back, "Lu, Woo, Lu...," like baby loons hopped up on lithium, anything that could be said was said in relation to what Lu would do. Months after Christmas, the chorus sang,
"Jingle Bells, Lu smells.... GOOD!
Daddy took a pee,
On a tree and broke his knee
In 1943... HEY!"
Over and over and over and over and over again, some kind of karmic hell I'm positive I had no part in accumulating.
As I said, I'm not here pointing fingers or assigning blame. If Lu was guilty of anything it was treating my children well, lovingly, being nurturing and attentive.
And there's the problem. As I navigate the single life and search for another significant other, I am naturally going to gravitate towards someone who will be just like Lu as far as how she treats my kids. A drunken, self-centered nymphomaniac might be fun but in the morning, she won't meet my children. So the search continues and as it does, the wee ones continue to cherish the brief moments when we were almost a complete family again.
Despite my liberal inclinations and feminist posturing, I have to confess that I'm not entirely thrilled with being a single parent and the thought of having a partner is infinitely more attractive that continuing on wearing both the mommy and daddy hats. More than that, having had some glimpse of how my children thrive in a two parent household, I have to concede that my kids appear to be happier when two adults share the blessings and burdens. That "complete" family unit, "nuclear family" (whatever you want to call it) allows for a tag-team type of strategy which, under optimal conditions, allows one stressed-out parent some downtime, some time to decompress and refresh before rushing back onto the battlefield.
Sometimes in life you take your chances, uncertain of the rewards, in the end usually astounded at how much farther the results have reached into the silent corners of our lives. As I said, I have no regrets and I'd do it again given the opportunity. Really, I will do it again, with someone new, hoping for the best and not thinking that it will end with three birds chirping her name as I sit alone in the driver's seat. I can't guard their little hearts anymore than I can guard my own heart.
All I can do is make good choices and hope for the best. Obviously, my kids thought Lu was a good choice and they will remember her for quite some time. Until I make my next good choice and take the chance, introduce her to my children. Until then, I have my wee ones to remind me that I do not settle for anything less than the best.