Recently I was involved in a discussion about the issue of dating when you are a single parent. I know that this is completely gender biased but the discussion engaged a group of single mothers and there were many references to other women walking in and out of their children’s lives at the behest of the other genetic contributor to the existence of their child. Now, for every bloke out there, yes, I know this it goes both ways and in my time as a single parent I was watched it occur amongst my peers as what is very much a two-way street. Of course, this was obvious by the distinct lack of reference by these women to their own personal choices with a preference for tainting their ex-partner. With the power of hindsight, all I could really comment to the discussion was that in respect to taking such a gamble to bring a suitor into your children’s lives that ‘it is worth it for the right one’ and left it at that.
With brutal honesty, the early days spent with Jeremy after our chlidren met now feels like a distant blur. The time we spent together and the memories created with each of our respective children are quite clear and distinct but the way that we progressed from acquaintances, to friends, to a relationship and now to a place as husband and wife – that is like trying to pick fine detail from a small section of Blue Poles (the painting) whilst you are standing back admiring the painting as a whole. You simply can’t do both at the same time.1 Looking back I struggle to find the fine detail as I see the magnificence of the journey from where we were both at when we met to where we are today. I am caught in the awe of the entire picture of what we have created together with what seems to be almost blind faith.
Occasionally though something happens, a trigger as it were, that sends your vision back to a particular point in time like a zoom lens that flings you back into the minute detail of a past event.
This happened to me this week. In the weeks leading up to this event, the kids had a few weeks where they had been getting into ‘Let’s Dance’ dance offs. Jeremy and I had both had our turns at some point. This night, though, was different because the song chosen was very much not part of Jeremy’s natural element, so much so that I picked up his phone and recorded it. You will see what I mean further on. He was really out of his depth but this did not stop him from simply ‘being Dad’.
As I took that footage though, I had that moment that sprang me back into the past. I cannot timeline the date but expect it was likely early in 2013 when I was just getting to know this man ‘Jeremy’ and for a reason I cannot recall found myself at his home during an evening when he had his children. I observed from a distance, as merely ‘the friend’ as he took the children through their bedtime routine. It involved dealing with the girls first as the younger of his brood he read to them in a way that would make Mrs Doubtfire proud. As the story hit its peak, I found myself drawn from the sofa where I sat patiently waiting. I ran myself a glass of water in the kitchen and quietly moved to the dining area wall which separated the living area from the one girl’s bedrooms where both were listening to their evening tale. I listened through to the end of the story and I was prompted to back away, to find my position on the couch where I was before, but I hesitated.
I am not sure what caused me to hesitate, maybe it was something that was said or the nature of the movement in the room on the other side of the wall, but it was one of the best decisions of my life. It was at that moment that I heard Jeremy begin to sing his own personalised lullaby to his girls. The first line was a bit of a shock, I didn’t expect it and it took me aback. The second line, made me want to laugh, I held it in but it felt like bad hiccups to not burst out laughing, I guess it was the disarming of this man I had come to know – that his children were his ultimate weakness. As he sung the third line I managed to contain the pain of the internalised laugh running up my sternum and managed to break a smile, this was a man who knew how to meet others with love and it was clear that he carried no past hurt into his relationship with his children.
With the final line of that lullaby, my heart melted. I knew that the man on the other side of that wall was a good one.
So, closer to present day, here I was standing there with Jeremy’s phone in hand filming him dancing with the children but, me, I was thrown back to a moment about three years ago. Back to the day that I first saw Jeremy at his height of ‘being Dad’ in the same way that he was in front of the camera right now. This was the man that showed, through the love of his children, that he was worth the risk. Below is a snapshot of the performance, you can see what I am talking about for yourself. The evening I was stirred off the couch – as unforgettable as this clip.
1 So, apparently, with the advent of modern technology you can actually look at the large scale of Blue Poles as well as zoom in to understand what I mean from the comfort of your own home. You can do so on the web site of that National Gallery of Australia here: http://cs.nga.gov.au/Detail-LRG.cfm?IRN=36334
Featured image source: Torsten Hofmann – https://www.flickr.com/photos/kleiner_riese_74/ under Creative Commons license.