More about co-habitating

On Father’s Day, the girls asked J, “Are you a father?”

And he kind of looked at them with a divided expression and said, “Well, no, not officially or technically or anything.”

As he said this, both girls were in their assumed positions.

The minute he is on the couch, Red, the ever-present non-cuddler, at his side, and Blue, the mega-star-cuddler, sitting right on top of him, her face inches from his.

They all looked at me and out of my mouth came, “well, he’s kind of like a step-dad.”

It’s true.

I’ve been a single mom for four years now and  now we have this amazing man with us every day who not only relates to, communicates, negotiates, disciplines, distracts and loves, my two little girls.

I’ve been doing everthing on my own for so long now, including drivel like getting up in the morning no matter what, no matter the flu or a migraine or lack of sleep or depression…to feed them and hug them and get them what they need to start their day…break up fights and brush their teeth, or help them change their socks.  I take out the trash and move furniture to clean and shop and juggle appointments and clients, all around these two little girls, all on my own.

With J here, he often stops me and says, “let me do this.”

On Saturday, we woke up at 7am. I was up the night before not feeling all that great, kind of trying to wait for him to get home from his gig at 1am, but fell asleep at midnight. When he got in bed, I woke up and we talked for an hour. In the morning, I was dead tired, but he was the one who’d played piano and entertained for six hours the night before. I struggled to get out of bed. He pulled me down and said, “go back to sleep, I’ll do it.”

There was NO way I was letting him do that. But in the end, I could hardly move. He told me he would be back in an hour with coffee and to go back to sleep…which I did.

An hour later, Blue was at my side with a cup of coffee and her face up close to mine. “We’re bringing you breakfast, Mommy. Do you want sausage?”

When I said “yes”, she smiled and slowly drawled out, “and would you also like some gum?”

The four of us ended up on my bed with french toast, sausage, syrup (note to self, put down shower curtain on bed when syrup enters the equation) and hashbrowns…with a side of gum.

After the meal, he wouldn’t let me out of bed to do the dishes, something I felt I should do, since I not only slept in, but had breakfast made.

After my final protest, I receded back against the pillows when he assured me I would not want to go downstairs and see the state of the kitchen..

At any rate, the day ended with the kids freely using the word “fart” instead of the term “toot” that we’ve used for the past eight years. I blame it on J, who, upon meeting them last year, started a game on a pad of paper (which I just ran across in my office) with lists of all the names for our rear ends, “tooting”, vomiting, and poop.

The girl’s favorite has been: “Hurl”.

Now, it’s “Fart”.

Thank you, J.

I am not really certain what ex husband is thinking or feeling about all of this, but unless he is a really good actor, I think he is just going with it. He’s pleasantly surprised at Red’s progress on the piano, seeing we have four keyboards in our tiny abode, as well as our built in piano man.

I find myself kind of walking on egg shells around him, not wanting to upset him by the fact that there is another man here around the house, other than him, taking a big roll in the girls’ lives. What I do know is this, and hope he agrees….the more love, the better.

J is pretty darn sensitive towards ex husband’s feelings and I really appreciate that. He is alot more nice to him than I am, and I suppose that is something I am learning to do. To just be “normal” and extend myself further than I usually do.

A few nights ago, I was downstairs getting a game to bring upstairs for us all to play, and the girls’ dad called. They were upstairs with J at the time. J repeated the dialog to me after they hung up.

Ex Husband: Blue, what are you doing right now?

Blue: Sitting on J’s belly.

Ex Husband: Oh. Well, is your mom there?”

Blue: Nope. She’s not here right now.

And then she hung up.

I called him back and made up some excuse for needing to talk to him about the upcoming 4th of July schedule (since they are leaving Thursday for ten days with their dad) just to be sure he knew I WAS there. It’s crazy how I tiptoe around, not wanting to rock a boat. Kind of also a bit like when I was married to him and realize not alot has changed.

6 responses to this post.

  1. I really like this post a lot. And I find myself feeling nervous with you, as well as happy, exhausted, as well as laughing with you (toot is much cuter, but I don’t see J saying “toot”).


  2. The whole stepdad thing can be tricky…but it sounds like everyone is handling it well. Your girls are very lucky to be surrounded with so much love. 🙂


  3. I’m so glad he stepped up. I’ve never dated a guy who would do that and that’s why I’m not dating now. It’s a hard gig for him, I’m sure, but he seems to be doing it with so much grace. Awesome.


  4. I can see why your ex might freak a little over what Blue said though. I’m sure that sexual abuse is a great fear for any father who is not living with his children. Good for you for calling him back to reassure him, even if you felt like it shouldn’t be necessary.

    I understand the tip-toeing… I have come across an old friend on FaceBook. I have not “friended” him though because he was friends with my ex. I have not seen or heard from my ex in 20 years, but I do not want to risk him stumbing over his friend’s profile and then finding me. I don’t ever want to go down that road again.


  5. Dude, I totally flaked and didn’t realize you’d moved blogs. Like the skin on this one, really neato:)

    J seems like he’s fitting in really well and I’ll agree that your ex seems to be rolling with it pretty well. I’d really keep on doing things as you are because it sounds like it’s working well.

    Man I want piano lessons. Can I borrow J and about 9 more hours in the day?


  6. As a dad and a step dad, I’ve been where J and your ex are. It is a delicate line and there are some lines that shouldn’t be crossed. I remind my step daughter that I am glad to help her when she needs it, but only after she has talked with her father first. Being a father gives you the right and the responsibility to raise your children. If there is a shared consent between everyone that’s good.

    I think the egg shells your walking are ok to do right now. This is new and everyone is still figuring out their roles. Give it time. I know in my situation it took some time for all of us to be comfortable in our roles. Sounds like a great start so far….


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