I got to Mr. Coffee's around 4:30 yesterday afternoon. I love that he wants me to call when I'm turning into his apartment complex so that he can be waiting at the door to his building for me to walk me up the stairs.
I was suffering from a bit of a long-week-at-work induced stress headache. He was quite happy to get me some Advil and some water and some snacks, and we chatted and ate while my headache went away.
Just as we'd done last time I was at his place for a sleepover, we postponed dinner for a while . . . excellent decision.
And an excellent dinner (when we got to it). Delicious grilled fish and asparagus, and some nice wine. Yum.
We sat by the fire after dinner (love the fireplace!) and there was more talking and more wine and well, you all are smart and can figure out the rest.
He lets me have his side of the bed.
Once again: NO SNORING.
In the morning, as I lazed around in bed, I could hear him whistling "Bolero" while he made my cappuccino.
He asked if he could make my cappuccino "fancy." I said sure. It arrived strong, very hot, and with a bit of cinnamon and a drizzle of chocolate.
It was hard to leave.
I have no idea if Mr. Coffee wants a long-term, serious, committed relationship. I have no idea if he'd ever want to get married again. I haven't asked him, and he hasn't told me. He did say something to me last night that gave me some clues, though. He mentioned that, since his divorce (thirteen years ago), he's had two serious, long-term relationships. He didn't specify how long "long-term" was, but I got the impression that we're talking years. Neither of those women ever met his kids (and neither of those women had kids of their own). I found this information so surprising that I didn't ask any follow-up questions about it; all I could think to say was, "That's really weird," and that didn't seem to be the best conversational tack, so I decided to mull it all over a bit for discussion with him later.
So here I am, mulling. I sense that while Mr. Coffee was willing to make a commitment to those women he was dating, he wasn't willing to let them all the way into his life. He's fiercely protective of his relationship with his daughters, and he's made it clear to me that he never wants them to doubt that they come first for him. I have no idea of "girlfriends do not meet the daughters" is a blanket policy, or if it was a decision specific to the two relationships he was in.
Until Mr. Coffee and I have a talk about what the status of our relationship is, I don't feel any need to meet his kids. But if we have The Talk and if we decide that we're going to be exclusive and serious and all that, I don't think it would be OK with me for his girls not to know that I existed. As a parent, I get that Kids Come First. I think many non-custodial divorced parents feel a need to work extra hard for that to be clear to their children. And having heard Mr. Coffee talk on the phone with his girls and talk about them quite a bit, his devotion to his daughters and their love for him is obvious. If what he's doing is working as far as maintaining a strong relationship with the girls, I can see why he wouldn't want to change that.
It's interesting to me, however, that this is not a two-way street; Mr. Coffee has already met Maddie and Riley on two occasions now. He asks about them all the time, and he usually shows up or sends me home with little gifts for them. He seems genuinely interested in knowing them. He's offered to have us all over to his place for dinner. Maddie and Riley are at an age where they are very accepting of new people in their lives, and they are used to friends coming and friends going. Mr. Coffee is just another blip on the friend radar to them for now; they don't know that the relationship I have with him is any different than the relationship I have with any of the other people that come over to visit us. Mr. Coffee and I have never so much as held hands in front of Maddie and Riley.
I am truly a single parent. Maddie and Riley's dad is dead. I do not have the option to lead two lives: one with kids when it's "my weekend" and one without when it's not. If I were to be seriously dating someone, there would be no way for me to keep the kids out of it, and frankly, I wouldn't want to. They are my life right now.
So, how to move forward? The first thing I need to do is figure out what I want from a relationship, because I'm not really sure. There's a part of me—a big part of me—that's OK with what Mr. Coffee and I have never becoming serious. I really enjoy spending time with him, and he really enjoys spending time with me. It's been wonderful to rediscover the non-parental grown-up side of me, and Mr. Coffee has brought that out with aplomb. The relationship we have now is really easy. We see each other when we can, we enjoy the time we get. I don't expect that he'll call me every day or spend every free night he has with me, and vice versa. My life is very hectic and can be very stressful; serious relationships are a lot of work, and maybe that's not what I need right now.
On the other hand, while they can be a lot of work, serious relationships can also be a great source of comfort and joy. What Mr. Coffee and I have right now is a lot of fun, but he's certainly not yet the first person I'd call if I needed help or a favor. Not yet. There is part of me that would like to find a partner in all of this stress and chaos. I'd like to get married again someday. I'd like for Maddie and Riley to have another parent; not a replacement for John, of course, but a partner in parenting with me, another point of view, another source of support and love. Whether or not this person could be Mr. Coffee remains to be seen. Frankly, whether or not I would want this person to be Mr. Coffee remains to be seen.
My sense, and it's just my sense since we have not even scratched the surface of talking about it, is that Mr. Coffee is not looking to get married again. He leads a very compartmentalized life. There are three circles in the Venn Diagram of his life—Work, Kids, Time without the Kids—and they don't overlap at all. As we spend more time together, I feel more and more that he'd like to change the title of that third circle from "Time without the Kids" to "Relationship," but without adding any overlap among the spheres.
The only way for me to know is to ask. And then decide how I feel about the answer. I'm not one to avoid conversations like this, I just haven't felt a need to talk about it yet. Yes, I'm being safe. Yes, I'm having fun. But I'm starting to think that it's time to figure out where things are headed.