Tuesday, April 12, 2011

When Are You Getting Married?

Just another day in the Dawson house folks.

Thanks to a well-placed nail I had to go to Wal-Mart for a new tire about 3 weeks ago. The 4th Wednesday of the month so children's death benefit money had arrived. I had planned to get their spring/summer clothes that Saturday, but decided to do it while we waited. What an adventure trying to teach a little girl who loves clothes about budgeting while trying to keep a toddler who couldn't care less about clothes or money entertained while strapped in a shopping cart.

Shirts, shorts, tank tops and tunic/legging sets for Ariana. Shirts, shorts, and thin pants for Elijah and despite having a little girl whose motto is "If it's my size, put it in the cart" I managed to stay under budget on their clothes. Thanks to a previously purchased road hazard warranty, the new tire is just $10. So I concluded things were good. We grabbed dinner and got home, ate and proceeded with Ariana's homework.

That cycle goes as usual. “Do the next problem, Ariana.” “Come back here, Elijah.” “That’s not quite right, try again Ariana.” “Stop crying, here’s your milk, Elijah.” “Sound the word out on your own Ariana.” “Don’t pull your sister’s hair Elijah!” “What do you need to do next Ariana?” “Get away from the stairs Elijah.” That night he discovered he could climb into Ariana's miniature recliner on his own. It isn't enough to sit in it though. He stands up in it. So that night we added "Sit down Elijah!" and "Get down Elijah!" I took a few minutes to show him physically what to do in the chair and after some whining and puppy eyes, and a tumble, he understood. I’ll never be bored.

Then out of nowhere. "When are you getting married again? I want to have a dad again." Now this used to bother me a bit more than it does now. It actually started very early on, two whole days after his death. It was heartbreaking. However, hearing how other widowed parents have children 2 or 3 years older than Ariana telling them they will not accept a new person or the one line I read, "you can date when I move out" from an 11 year-old, it's not so bad. I couldn't think about it for a long time because of the pain. But I realize at the age of 38, I probably shouldn't make such a final decision. And since no one means more to me than my children, it probably helps that she's open to it. It's more than about her wanting a dad. She cares really. She feels bad Elijah would never know what it's like to have one. She also feels someone should be here to help me take care of her and her brother.

But there it was. "I want to have a dad again." And inside me, I say. If it were only as simple as going out and getting you one. I told her that it's possible I may get married again, but the 3 of us are a family and we'll be fine either way. Beyond saying within myself, "I don't think I want to be alone the rest of my life," I am not really ready yet. She is way too young to understand any of that. At 7 years of age her world is very black and white and I have to choose my words very carefully in discussing things with her that require visions of shades of gray.

I gave a long pause and shook my head. She asked me, "Are you going to cry again because I said the word daddy?" I tell you I had one really bad day...that she actually saw anyway. Our anniversary in February I just could not stop crying for a while after church. That was the first time she saw me cry since the funeral, but now she thinks I'm going to cry because she mentioned her father or wanting another one. I just told her there are some things that I have to get done before I will be ready to be with another person, but I wanted her to know no matter what we're a family and I'll do what is best for us. She had no more questions. I was surprised. This is the girl who if asked to retrieve some tissue from the bathroom asks the person how many squares they need.

In the time since that day, I've been "hit on" twice. I would not consider a future with either man. But I no longer cringe at the thought. Thomas was the only man I have ever loved. It is difficult to think of being with another person even after a year. But, I'm sure I want to be loved that way again and I'm sure I want my children to see me loved that way. I'm still a woman and everything about me that made me want to be married is still there. But being ready is a whole other story. I don't even feel like I fit in with single people yet. After 10 years on the other side, most of my friends are married couples. And in my relationships with the single people who have remained single as I have transitioned, there's this thing called motherhood that keeps me from fitting in with them.

So that leaves single parents. It's a process, as I am not sure the ones I know see me fitting in with them. They knew me as part of a couple. Some widows would agree. They have trouble being associated with single parents. They get upset if a form doesn't give them the option to select widowed as their status. I hear them say they don't want people thinking they got a divorce or had a child out of wedlock. And I had my own issues. I remember taking off my wedding band and thinking "What will the visitors in the Welcome Center at church think when they see me with my children, particularly my baby and no ring?"

Everyone is entitled to their opinion as to the differences in the lives of single (divorced or never married) parents versus the widowed parent. I think I'll just be mommy. I'll be Sonya. That way I don't have to worry about the title changing and I'll check what is available on the forms. For me, the harder part is putting in their father's name then having to leave every other question that pertains to him blank as he no longer has a phone number, address, work address, work phone number or cell phone number.

So, yes, widowhood is a different world. The pain is different. The parenting is a bit different. But what I see in the single mothers I know, no matter how she became that way is another woman busting her behind to do the best she can for her children. She may or may not get that break for a visitation weekend with the other parent. Either way she's pulling it together everyday, sometimes doing it with pain, but going ahead anyway. I could do worse than to be associated with women like that.

Still, if only getting another daddy/husband, a date, or even a good male friend was as simple as shopping at Wal-Mart was that day. He's our size mom, put him in the cart.

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