I get the best of both worlds in many ways. Though, there really are more than two worlds. I get to have a family, part time, on the weekends, with fully grown kids who are decent and likeable and fun to be around. I get to have single womanhood as needed. Today is Father's Day, and I almost forgot to celebrate this for my sweetie. I had signed up for a weekend seminar for continuing ed, and didn't realize the dates. As we were sitting in the class yesterday afternoon, the speaker mentioned Father's Day and I said to myself, "Doh! I forgot to make some plans".
Needless to say, the few hours were not worth my time compared to having the Sunday morning with my sweetie. We have his daughter with us this weekend, so breakfast was going to beat chronic thyroid disease. Even if it wasn't remarkable and we waited forever to get seated, and another forever to get fed. Even if it is 150 degrees outside in full sun. Even if we are mostly tired and crampy and tired and it's too effing hot to think about getting in the pool. Because the walk from the chair to the steps will likely kill you from exposure. I wanted to celebrate this morning with him, them, because I love that he is a father. And, I think, a very good one.
Some dads shirk whatever they can get away with, and maybe he didn't experience full fatherhood duty. But, he also never dropped the ball and never tries to get out of seeing his kids. Our relationship resembles nothing I grew up with, and isn't modeled on any other couple I know. So, for good and bad, I think we have managed a really good family dynamic with his kids. It helps that he has an okay relationship with their mom, and that she and I get on reasonably well. She knows I like her kids, that I make decisions that support their wellbeing. They have a step-dad, for good or bad, as well.
About a week ago, eldest daughter texted me a belated Happy Mother's Day, sorry I forgot, I love you. I was totally cool with it being late, because I am not her mom and also because I wasn't expecting it. I texted back thank you, and proud of you doing so well (she is, mostly, doing well, finally). I would never compete with their mother for any reason. I think they saw this early enough on, and know that shit won't fly. I get to love their dad, and help him be a better father. This is really important to me. I loved my dad, and he never shirked his duties. My mother was not very kind to him about any of it, and frankly, he was the better parent in many ways. Even if he was all sorts of bad husband.
So, I thought about what it means to date a father and love a father. I realize I wasn't so great to the various women my dad dated over the years. Maybe because we just kept meeting all these women, and had to blend with their kids here and there for a stupid dinner or weekend watching movies on the VCR, and nothing was going anywhere anyhow. Maybe because some of them were really great, but were never going to be more to us than dad's girlfriend, and they were kinder than our mom. Maybe because they were busy trying to replace the part of my dad's heart that my mom would still occupy as mother to his kids, and woman who drove him nuts but he'd still fight for/with. I wasn't horrible, but I really was not concerned about their issues when mine were not being cared for.
Now, I am in another position. I love a man who brought two kids with him, and that means giving up all sorts of things. All the holidays are planned around their (mother's) schedule. Every other weekend is pretty much spoken for, including lots of long drives on hot afternoons. Eldest daughter recently lived with us for about 6 weeks or so, in our small space, and we survived. I was happier for her and her dad to spend so much time together at this stage of her life than I was sad about losing my free space. Then again, he doesn't make me compete with them, either.
Today I blew off my seminar and made the breakfast trek, happy to be celebrating his fatherhood and loving him for it. I like his kindness, and patience. I like his gentle manner with his kids, and his tolerance of the life and death cycle of the adolescent female mood. I like that he always spends time with his daughter doing something more than hanging around. The library, the science museum, the cultural history center, the book store, the comic store, the arts festival, something. I like that his kids love love love him even though they are teenage girls. I like that they like me loving their dad. They consider me family.
The other part of today was some really good news. They have always lived far enough away, about 45 min drive, with lots of highway, in B.F West Phoenix (or b.f. East LA, as we call it here), in a land called Peoria. It is as desolate as it sounds. Suburbia surrounded by cows, cotton and corn. I know his older daughter could have had more chances to do well if they had lived closer to the city, even if by virtue of public transportation existing. Walking or biking here is not feasible in the daylight hours of summer, and generally, much further than most people would imagine. Because their mom has been the only breadwinner of that family for some years now, and she has a long commute closer to our side of town, they decided to let their place go back to the bank and move. Initially, it was going to be South Phoenix (ugh) or Tempe (meh), but their bad credit saved the day. They couldn't move in after all. Instead, they found another place in Scottsdale that will make all our lives easier. We drove by today, and checked it out, and she will now be about 15 minutes from us, on surface streets. Even, reasonably, a long bike ride away (there is a canal with bike paths).
Today we get a little father's day victory. Shared parenting got a little karmic gift card from the universe, and it will be easier for him to see her than before. We know that adolescing takes its revenge on all of us, and she is no exception (but still a great kid). A whole new world of father daughter stuff will open up, which will make him happy. Which will make me happy for him.