I don’t write about the people I date, have dated, will date. If I go out with him, my respect for him is both implicit and explicit: he will feel my respect in my actions, and the world will see my respect in my words.
When I wrote this piece, I aimed to show what I was teaching my sons about authenticity, about the differences between loving someone or keeping them around for the benefits, about holding a standard for a man who suits me as a lover and them as a dad, about patience and faith and readiness.
After I published this piece, I realized it sounded disrespectful to Sam.
Sam, I’m sorry. And you deserve a girl who will light up your world, not the interwebs.
Please forgive me.
* * *
Tyler left his small basketball in the garage. I ran over it, it popped, and the lesson therein is don’t leave your toys under my van. Unhappy things will happen.
We were in the car yesterday, and Tyler said, “I really hope we can see Sam again.”
Sam and I gave a good year to trying to make a relationship work, and it just never took flight. Not for lack of chivalry, conversations, gifts, or trying. Sometimes you just can’t help the flame find the wick.
“Guys, I don’t think we will see him anymore.”
“Well, he’s just not going to come around anymore.”
“Why? He always gave us presents. And I want a new basketball.”
“Well, buddy, I can get you a basketball.”
“Why can’t Sam?”
“He’s not going to visit us anymore.”
“I don’t understand why he wouldn’t want to come back.”
I don’t intend to tell them this, and yet here it comes: “Guys, Sam just wanted more from Mommy than I could give him. He wanted to marry me.”
Silence in the backseat.
“Sam was your boyfriend?” I wouldn’t say it ever got to that point, no.
And then Tyler says, “Mommy, that was your one chance.”
He says this as though I passed on dessert and now there is none left. He says this as though marriage is simply about an offer.
“Lovey, I’m not looking for a chance. I’m waiting for the man God has for us.”
“And he wasn’t the man?”
“Sometimes someone has feelings, and the other person doesn’t. And it gets tricky and complicated, but you just have to say goodbye when you can’t make it work. Like when you’re playing at the park and someone wants to join your game, but you kind of want to do your own thing.”
“Well, you always tell us to be kind and let that person play the game.”
True. Not my best analogy. “Well, it’s a different kind of game when it’s grownups.”
“So he’s not coming back?”
“No.” And this is why I don’t let you meet the people I have coffee with. Because I don’t want to explain the intricacies of defining relationships to children who don’t yet know multiplication.
“But I wanted a new basketball.”
“Do you want to see him? Or do you want a basketball? Because it’s not a good idea to want someone in your life just for what they can give you. If you want a basketball, we can get a basketball. But that doesn’t mean he is the man God has for us.”
“Okay. Can I have a basketball?”
That’s what I thought.