“Get off your butt and go swing.”
That’s what the babysitter told Marie while I was inside – not eavesdropping. They were enjoying the sunny weather and I was enjoying the arms of Mr. Sexy who was getting ready to leave for a business trip. Because our bedroom has a door that opens onto the front porch, I am privy to most conversations that happen out there.
The babysitter told Marie, “Get off your butt and go swing.”
I looked at Mr. Sexy and said, “Wow. That is exactly what she needs from the people around her.”
I met *Brad in the last play I did, Anne of Green Gables. I didn’t get to know him too well but he always addressed me as , “ma’am,” and tipped his hat in greeting. I found this behavior odd, but it also made me feel respected as a woman. Mr. Sexy knew Brad through work and already had respect for him due to his intense work ethic. So when Mr. Sexy and I were desperate for a regular babysitter, it was Brad who reached out to us. But he had one requirement: No payment. So we invited him over to meet our kids and get a feel for each other.
He was in our home for less than 10 minutes and was already carrying Denai around and connecting with Michael and Marie on their level. This was amazing to me. Denai does not warm up to many people so quickly. In fact, I expected her to bury her head in my arms and never let go. So when instead she was happily talking Brad’s ear off as he carried her around the house, I knew we were in the midst of something beautiful.
It has been four months since that first meeting and Brad has become almost like a third parent to my kids (just to add to all the parents in their lives). He is different from me and Mr. Sexy, though. He is not bound by
our my rules. He hears my rules, he acknowledges them, and then every once in a while I found they were a bit glossed over: They ate ice cream and cookies. They stayed up too late. They watched more than just one episode of Sesame Street. They drank my favorite juice. And I don’t want to know about anything else.
On the flip side, after coming home from rehearsal, Brad was able to have real conversations about the kids with us. He told us when it was his idea to stay up late, and when it wasn’t. He was able to ask questions about Marie’s behavior so he could better understand her and respond better the next time. For instance, Michael and Marie wanted to perform a little play. Well, Marie did not get the part she wanted so she refused to participate. Brad told her that was sad, but she could sit in the next room until he and Michael and Denai were done having fun with the play. And that is what happened. He responded to her behavior perfectly. In fact, he responded better than I would have!
The kids all LOVE Brad. They got so used to setting him a place at the dinner table that on nights he wasn’t coming over, it was a confusing disappointment for them. I was thrilled that Michael and Denai loved Brad so much. However, if I’m being honest, I dealt with a bit of jealousy about how much Marie liked Brad. I’m used to that feeling, though. Usually that feeling is accompanied with a sense of being threatened.
I feel threatened by almost every relationship Marie has outside of her relationship with me. Wow, talk about insecurities! I suppose that’s the truth of it, though. I’m trying to stand up as her mom with knees shaking and palms clammy, when an outsider walks over to us. Marie smiles, showing all her teeth. She instinctively moves closer to that person, leaving me to stand alone as the mom who tried, but never could. And then, sometimes that person Marie sidles up to is the type to hold her close and lead her away from me.
I know it does not have to be this way. But I need you to understand how I feel about every relationship in Marie’s life so you can understand who Brad is to her, to me and to our family. Those feelings of being threatened never surfaced in all the time he has spent with our family. Jealousy played it’s part for me, though. But that jealousy is all about somebody else having what I want but can’t figure out how to get. I have enjoyed watching Brad develop relationships with all my kids. He is like the fun uncle but also knows when to draw the line and say, “Get off your butt and go swing.” Like I said, Marie needs people like that in her life.
Our family has gained so much by having Brad be a part of our lives. Some might look at him and say he is a bit rough around the edges. He is a bachelor after all (you should have seen Mr. Sexy when I met him). What drew us towards Brad over and over again was his kind, genuine heart. He would bring dinner over for us. He was always polite and respectful. Mr. Sexy and I would come home to find dishes washed and the living room picked up and swept. When I took Brad home, he opened doors for me and even carried my heavy suitcases to an appointment I had. In all honesty, I am not used to be treating so chivalrously by anyone other than my husband.
So Brad, you are a gift. We love you and you have a permanent place in the hearts of each of us here at the Sexy family household.
*Brad is not his real name.