Sunday, November 8, 2009
Today's muse: Sunday Scribblings
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"Are you going to marry my dad?" Sarah didn't look up when she asked this pointed question. She continued coloring with the yellow crayon, her tongue firmly planted between her teeth, as though she had asked if we were going to the zoo tomorrow. Not knowing what to answer, I went with what I thought was the safest response.
"I...I don't know."
Sarah put her crayon down and scrutinized me. "Hasn't he asked you yet?" She seemed quite surprised; as though the fact that her father hadn't asked me to marry him yet was an affront to her young heart.
I shook my head. Sarah sighed, picked up her crayon and continued coloring.
Until this very moment, the fact that Aaron hadn't asked me to marry him was not something that crossed my mind. After all, we had only been dating little more than a year. And there was Sarah to think of. I wasn't surprised to find myself in love with Aaron. He is a wonderful man and a fabulous father. What really surprised me was to find I absolutely adored his eight year-old. Sarah is funny and clever and I enjoy every moment I spend with her.
Being a mother was never something I dreamed of. My own mother was distant, to say the least. Once I could wash and dress myself, she left me on my own, preferring to go out with a string of men she insisted I call Uncle. I vowed, at a very young age, that I wouldn't become like her. It seemed the best way to avoid this was to never have children.
Then Aaron came along. After our fourth date, he introduced me to his daughter. We bonded instantly. She easily accepted me as an addition to her life and I began to question my decision on motherhood.
Now I sat across from her at Aaron's kitchen table, coloring in caricatures of farm animals with a meticulous hand, as though I was creating the next masterpiece. Move over Dali, I thought, as I studied my picture.
"Let's say he does ask you." I sighed. Sarah obviously was still on the marriage issue. "What will you say?"
Good question, I thought. Yet another one I didn't know the answer to. I stared at Sarah as she diligently colored her own picture. Everything seemed so simple to her. Typical of all children, she seemed to take on life with fearless abandon. Not like me, I mused, who seemed to hide from any challenge, afraid of failure. Maybe that was my hesitation. Not of failing myself, but of failing this innocent child before me. How was I supposed to be a mother when I'd never had one?
"You'll have to say something," Sarah stated, her tone matter-of-fact. The whole thing seemed so normal to her. Why couldn't it be for me? It occurred to me that Sarah had the right attitude. Perhaps I should take my cue from her.
"What do you think I should say?" I asked, not sure whether I wanted to hear a truthful answer.
"Do you love him?" She asked as though we were choosing between two sweaters. Do you like blue? If you like blue, then you should get this sweater. If you love him, then it's obvious you should marry him.
"I do love your dad." Is this something you're supposed to admit to an eight year-old?
Sarah nodded smartly. "Then you should say yes," as though this decided everything.
"What if he doesn't love me?" I held my breath. Of course he did, he told me did. But maybe Sarah knew something I didn't. After all, as she pointed out, he hadn't asked yet.
Sarah rolled her eyes and snorted. "Of course he loves you. He talks about you all the time." I digested that bit of information and allowed myself a small smile.
"Besides," she continued, "I love you too. If you marry daddy, that'll make you my mom." She looked up then to see my reaction. I would be her mom. I thought about that and it made my heart pound in a way it never had before. I wasn't afraid—I was excited. I could be a mom. Something I had avoided for so long, at once I knew I wanted to experience. I smiled at Sarah.
"You'd want me to be your mom?"
She nodded. "Of course. It's like you are already. We just need to make it legal. Then we can all have the same name. Like a real family."
I laughed. "That would be nice, wouldn't it?" Sarah jumped off her chair and ran over to me, wrapped her arms around my neck.
"It would be great! Now we just have to get dad to ask you."
"I think you already asked her." Sarah and I both looked up as we heard Aaron's voice. I could feel my face redden. How long had he been standing there, listening to our conversation? I was mortified and stared at the floor. I couldn't look at him.
"Daddy!" Sarah ran over to Aaron and threw herself around his legs. "Ask Sarah to marry you," she said in a loud whisper. Aaron looked over at me and raised his eyebrows in question. I closed my eyes and covered my face with my hands, wished for the floor to open up and swallow me whole.
"Do you think she'll say yes?" Aaron asked.
"Oh yes, daddy!" Sarah's confident reply had me smiling. I lowered my hands and looked over at him. He looked down at Sarah and winked. She gasped, then squealed with delight and, taking his hand, led him over to me.
"You have to get down on one knee," she instructed. Aaron, bent down and leaned over to Sarah.
"Now what?" he whispered.
"Do you have a ring?" Aaron shook his head, glancing at me with an apology in his eyes. He shrugged. Sarah waved away this problem.
"We can pretend."
I grinned at Aaron as he took my hand and placed an invisible ring on my finger. "Will you marry me, Janet?" I opened my mouth to reply, but Sarah cut in with her own proposal.
"And be my mom?" I laughed. No proposal, I decided, was more romantic.
"I will." Aaron and Sarah grabbed me in a fierce hug. I smiled at Aaron as I rested my cheek on Sarah's head. I was going to be a wife. And a mom.
Sarah pulled back to look at us.
"Can I have a brother or sister?"