Tag Archives: kids

it happened in a burger king bathroom

For a very long time, I was absolutely certain I did not want children. I had thought it all out, see. I was not the mothering type. I wanted to spend my money on myself. I wanted to travel and have nice things. I proclaimed this loudly and often to anyone who would listen, and I took great pains to get offended when people would kind of shake their heads and say, “You’ll change your mind,” in response.

I was so mellow back then.

And then I entered this period of great ambivalence about childbearing, which I didn’t share with many people. I wasn’t really sure. Maybe I’d have kids. But I definitely did not want to date someone who already had kids. I’d heard horror stories of what a minefield it was to be a stepparent, and I just didn’t even want to deal with that kind of baggage. I wanted a man unspoiled by life, other women, and offspring.

Silly old mellow me.

So now here I am. I’m in love with the man I intend to marry someday, a man who loves me back and intends to marry me too. Weddings are always best when both spouses-to-be agree to show up, right? So I’m in love with this man – this amazing, intelligent, supportive, divorced father of two. Somehow I’m pretty sure he’s still unspoiled.

We waited several months into our relationship before I met the kids. Their stability is really important to both of us, and we wanted to be sure we were serious and in it for the long haul before we introduced them into our lives as a couple. So for the first few months we were dating, he went on his own to see them and I stayed home. When we began making plans for them to spend the first weekend with us, I was terrified.

I wanted desperately to like them and to have them like me back, but I knew there was a very good chance that they might not like me at all. They might even hate me at first, which would be fairly normal and probably not even about me as a person at all, and more about me as their dad’s new girlfriend. I tried to prepare myself for the possibility of a chilly reception and I hoped and hoped we’d have a good time.

And we did. I wrote about it in the spring. We had our moments of awkward tiptoeing and figuring each other out, but no one seemed to hate me and things were fine. I, of course, fell in love with them immediately. We had a couple of other visits and things continued to go pretty well, and I continued to fall in love. And I knew they liked me, and we had fun, but I didn’t know if they loved me and I didn’t expect them to. I’m not their mama, after all. I’m just The Other.

It’s become a little tradition that when we take the kids back after visits, we stop at Burger King. Seth and I have a thing for Mocha Joes and the kids can hit the Playland and it’s a convenient location. Plus it boosts our mood just a little, because though we never let the kids see, we’re always both a little mopey when we’re taking the kids back. So we stop at BK and the first thing we do, of course, is hit the bathroom.

Mira, age 5, likes to make small talk in public restrooms. One time we were at IHOP and I was waiting outside her stall for her to finish and from her perch on the toilet, she described to me in anatomically correct detail how babies were made. It’s always unpredictable and entertaining and sometimes embarrassing.

So we’re in the bathroom at Burger King and I’m waiting for Mira and she says, “Hey Lorie, you know what?” I’m kind of only halfway paying attention and I kind of absently say, “What, Mira?” and she says, “Did you know I love you?”

I’m almost certain it’s not the first time she told me that, but I think it’s the first time it came out of the blue and it’s definitely the moment I will always remember. It’s not terribly poignant, my little sorta step-girl on the toilet with her feet dangling down telling me she loves me, but ohh. My heart grows a little bit just in the retelling. She doesn’t have to love me, but she does.

It took me a second to respond that I loved her too, of course I did. She finished and we washed her hands and went out to join the rest of the family and the whole time, all I was thinking is, I want to be a mom. I want to be a mom. I want to be a mom.

carry that weight

I knew I needed to write today, but I hadn’t written anything yet because I was having trouble deciding between two topics that seemed very different.

Today should have been Frank’s 39th birthday. It’s been a hard day, and I have been sad. With the exception of today, I haven’t cried much lately, but the weight of missing him seems to make my steps just a little slower, the effort of living my life just a little heavier. I guess over time I’ll get stronger, and the weight will be easier to carry. But some days it just feels unbearably heavy.

I was going to devote an entire post to Frank, but I was torn because some other things have been happening that are worth writing about, and I could not choose between them. In a weird way, I’m writing about both today.

This weekend I met Seth’s kids – Mira, who is 4, and Niomi, who is 12. They spent the entire weekend with us and so the four of us spent that time feeling out what I’ve been calling my practice family. We had a super time. We went to the playground, we blew bubbles, we ate too much junk food, we watched movies and TV, and we went roller skating. I used to live in roller skates, but it’s probably been 15 years or more since I skated. I still know how, but it was kind of frustrating that I’m in such lousy shape these days that skating wore me out quickly. Towing a flaily 4-year-old around the rink surely helped me tire out faster, but mostly it’s just that I’m lame and out of shape. It was okay, though, because we all had fun even if skating was a big fat fail.

It was nice, and strange at the same time. I realized that I know exactly how to do this mothering thing, that if I ever have kids of my own I’m going to be really good at it. I think that’s a combination of instinct, growing up the oldest of four girls, and watching my own mom’s phenomenal example over the years. Whatever it is, if I have the chance to bust it out full-time, I’m so on it. At the same time, I felt like an impostor the entire time, and was convinced that someone was going to bust me trying to be a fake mom to someone else’s kids and they’d drag me away to rot in fake mother prison.

There was something amazingly wonderful and right about what we were doing, about our little sunburns and our bubble-sticky hands, our sweaty roller-skate feet, our lazy Sunday morning with Spongebob and Lucky Charms. There was something joyful and giddy about giving a girl time to play laser tag with her dad, about hooking her up with a billion computer games and watching videos with her. There was something so peaceful and pure about dozing on the couch with a bath-fresh little girl sprawled on me, all arms and legs and sweet-smelling goodness. It was right. I was ready for it.

After we handed off the girls last night, Seth and I were walking back to my car in the cool fading light and we both realized that we felt lighter, almost more limber. Even though I ate junk food all weekend, even though I’ve been carrying this immense weight of sadness in my heart, I felt lighter last night. He thought it might be roller skating. I’m pretty sure it was the late spring sweetness of our time with his girls.