Car rides offer a time to talk about important world matters. Especially those matters that are of particular importance to little boys. On our way home from a friend’s house one evening, C started talking about marriage… something to do with Justin Beiber… something he had heard in kindergarten. Then he started giggling. I knew he wanted to say something more, but he hesitated. I urged him to speak.
“Wouldn’t it be great if you and A got married and Dad and S got married?” He giggled some more, and after a minute, I asked, “Would you like that?” He said yes. Then R chimed in excitedly. “No, no, wouldn’t it be great if Mom and Dad got married!?” I opened the window, tilted my face towards the breeze, and took a long drag of fresh air before answering.
“Mom and Dad used to be married. That’s how we got you two,” I said. I couldn’t see his face in the backseat, but I could hear his expression. He went from jubilation to a pout.
“So why aren’t you married anymore?” It was an accusation, more than a question. I said that grown-up relationships are complicated, and that mom and dad love them both very much.
Whether you're divorced, married, or in a committed relationship, grown-up relationships are complicated. They are even more complicated when there are children. Kids don't care about any of that grown-up stuff. What they do care about is that parents have complicated their lives, too. They end up with two houses and two sets of clothing and they get shuttled back and forth.
My kids love S and A and A’s kids. All of those extra people have become part of my kids’ family. I'm pretty sure that C doesn't remember a time before A or S. R does. And while R likes the idea of his parents getting back together, I suspect he also knows that if his dad and I got back together (and that’s not happening), he would lose those other people that he has come to love, too.
I’m sure what he’d really like is for all of us to live in one giant house together. Since that will never happen, no matter where I live or who else is in their lives, I will keep encouraging my kids to speak when they hesitate and try to make sure that my house, my car, and my arms are always a safe place to say all the things that can and should be talked about.