My own private after-school special

By Mir
July 24, 2004

So the kids and I had a fabulous day; we met up with friends and ran some errands at the mall with the merry-go-round. That meant an errand, a ride on the carousel, an errand, ice cream, a couple of errands, a ride on the carousel, and then home again. Not a bad way to spend a day for the six-and-under set. Then we had dinner at our friends’ house, came home, had showers, and headed to bed.

I am not one to bill myself as the world’s greatest mom. I mean, I get the job done. Some days better than others. On certain issues I could use a lot of work. On other issues I may be slightly ahead of the curve. Who knows. As all my fellow parents know, the kids didn’t exactly come with a manual so we’re all muddling through as best we can.

Anyway. Chickadee copped an attitude with me for most of the day. At six, this is not unusual, but it felt… different. I wondered. I decided I was reading too much into things or perhaps projecting. Until my friend leaned over after a particularly mouthy exchange and whispered, “Somebody’s angry about Daddy’s new girlfriend.” Well, it was imagining until she said it. Crap. Ooooookay. I figured I’d tackle it at bedtime, if we made it through until then without me harming her.

As she got herself settled under the covers tonight I lay down on the bed beside her and asked her if there was anything she wanted to talk about. “Nooooooo.” Oh, okay then. I was just wondering if you felt okay about meeting Daddy’s friend today.

Immediate tears. Oy.

“I think Daddy likes his new girlfriend more than he likes me!” I could hear the tender music swelling in the background, I tell you. It was so corny I would’ve laughed except that it was real and my heart was bending under my little girl’s crying.

Then I realized… here I was embarking on this discussion on a night when Daddy forgot the bedtime phone call. Because his “friend” is here. We’ve been apart for about a year and a half and he’s forgotten to call a grand total of three times. Great. I said a quick and silent prayer that she hadn’t noticed the missed call. (And maybe added in a few curses towards the forgetful father….)

So I did The Right Thing. I kissed her and hugged her and told her how she and her brother are the whole world to her father and me, and how I know that no one will ever be more important to us than them, but that adults need other adults and what makes Daddy happy should make us happy too. I praised my stepmom and pointed out how happy it makes me that she makes my dad happy, and how great it is to have another person in my life to love. I even conceded (in my best conspiratorial tone) that I hadn’t known quite what to think of her when we first met, that of course I didn’t love her immediately because we needed time to get to know each other.

I did everything I could think of to act like this was a really exciting thing. And when her sobs finally turned to yawns I reminded her that she can always talk to me, and always talk to Daddy (unless he forgets to call; bastard) (no, I didn’t say that), and that we will always help her feel better.

I feel like I ran a marathon. And I have no idea if I did the right thing, or if she really feels any better. At least if this was made-for-television I’d have a commercial break to review the script.


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