Yesterday as I sat on her bed and listened to him read bedtime stories that had been read a thousand times before I felt like an outsider looking in on a life that was established a long time ago. I’ve known him for so long but suddenly he looked like a stranger to me, watching this side of him that I’ve never seen before. They were snuggled up, her with her blanket and him with his, working through a bedtime routine that is always done the same way only this time they had a visitor.
Michael has a five year old daughter and many years ago when I met her as just a baby, when him and his ex wife were still together and happy, when I met him as a friend of my boyfriends I never in a thousand years would have ever guessed that now, years down the line I would be finding myself in love with her just as much as I am in love with him. While Michael and I have been together for almost a year, I had only been around her a handful of times, both of us not wanting to make mistakes and move too quickly and end up hurting both her and us. But yesterday was the day. The sun was so hot it was impossible to stay cool, so he brought her to swim in our pool and have some lunch, neither one of us knew that we would soon be letting her in on the bond that we had formed. There were whispers between us what do I say? Is this the right time? What will she say? just do it! And giggles from her when finally I just said it What would you say if I told you I was your daddies girlfriend?
And after the longest pause of my life…
I would say that I like that.
It felt like the biggest weight off my shoulders but at the same time the weight was coming off my shoulders a new weight was already settling in. As I sat there and watched him make dinner and run her bath and especially when I watched him read her those bedtime stories it hit me like a pillowcase full of bricks that if things work out between him and I, I would be the step mother to this beautiful dark haired, bright eyed child before I am ever a mother myself. And there is really no other way to put it other then it scares the shit out of me. Not in a bad way. Just in the way of the unknown. I never would have saw me in this position, dating someone with a child. I always thought I would be jealous and that when I have a child I would want it to be his first child too, but everything I thought I would feel was wrong. I’m not jealous in the least, I look at him with her and my heart does a flip I’ve never felt before. And I’m not jealous of the life he had before me because, I also had a life before him and even though I didn’t have a child with him, the life I had was just as important.
As I got in my car that night to head home, long after she had fallen asleep, I rolled the windows down lit a cigarette and drove in silence listening to the sound of my tires on the rural back roads. My thoughts were all over the place when one of them hopped out of line and slapped me in the face. Who am I? Who am I to just butt myself into this father-daughter relationship? Who am I to fall in love with this man and set in motion the re-assembling of a life that had been the same for five years? Who am I and will I ever fit into this life that those two have? Who am I to maybe possibly one day marry her daddy? Who am I to one day maybe even bring a sibling into her life after so long of being an only child? And on and on and on my thoughts went.
But at the end of the day as I lay in bed still sagging under the weight of how huge this all was I calmed down and realized that the only reason I felt like an outsider looking in was because I made myself feel that way. They did nothing but make me feel wanted and welcomed, loved even. And after a few (well ok, several) words of advice from my mother who has experience with this of her own, I felt much better which opened me up to be able to feel excitement. Change is terrifying for me, new things are hard for me to take on, but I think I am finally learning how to scoop up those fears up, throw them into the wind, and let life happen instead of forcing it to.