Why It’s Good I Waited.

If I had written my relationship book after my first divorce.

You would have arrived at my doorstep and taken me out to lunch. We’d have talked about what happens when  monogamy goes out the window.

Well, well, well.

At first, I’d have been not too happy during that lunch. I may even have spit a little salad while giving you the gory details. I may have turned my buttered slice of artisan bread into a frisbee headed for my ex-husband.

But after simmering down, I would have pulled up my big girl britches and said, “OK. No problem. I picked the wrong man. It’s a simple mistake and I’m wiser now. I’ll go find another one. I can do better.”

You’d have given me a thumbs up for leaving the marriage. We would have clinked our glasses of iced tea to say, “You go, girl.”

If I had written my relationship book after my second divorce.

You and I would need to go on anti-depressants and eat cupcakes. We might need wine. Followed by a lengthy spa vacation with unlimited massages, salt scrubs, mani’s and pedi’s.

Because?

I found my forever man and he left me.

When he announced he was moving out, I thought I would die from the anguish. My heart broke big time. I cried practically every day for a year. I was 32 years old.

If I’d have written my relationship book after that marriage, we’d have done the only thing we could do — hold hands and weep.

If I had written my relationship book after becoming a (surprise!) single mother.

You would have needed a nap after reading even a few pages of that book.

If you had read the whole thing, you would have needed a l-o-n-g winter nap — like we’re talking all winter. We’re talking hibernation.

Before going into the cave, though, I would have detained you by asking way too many questions about raising a small human all by myself. I had no idea how to do that. My Childhood Development degree from Iowa State University was not handy information at all, in fact, it was of no help whatsoever.

There I was, pregnant at 39, living an idyllic and leisurely single life in a waterside apartment in Marina del Rey, CA.. Days were sunny and 72 degrees. My wall of windows and sliding glass doors overlooked a marina of sailboats. I loved the soothing sound of the ropes and pulleys gently clanging against the masts of the boats… music to me.

Every day, I drove a couple miles along the sparkling blue ocean (oh darn) to get to my sweet Venice office where I had a full consulting practice.

I loved my work. I loved where I lived. I loved my life. Then suddenly I was with child.

Talk about radical changes.

The father said he would help pay for an abortion, but the idea repulsed me. I knew (from a vivid dream) I was having a girl and felt as if I already knew her. I couldn’t bring myself to send her back where she came from.

Her father didn’t come to the birth or offer support. Instead, he handed me silence and distance, which was the best he could offer at the time. He forced me to find faith in myself.

Did I sign up for that?

Apparently.

Alright then. No father for my daughter.

Now what?

Are fathers important? Are positive male role models a good thing for a little girl to have? I thought they were, and once she was an older toddler, I went about finding stand-ins. I was sure I could find male friends I trusted who’d want to spend time with my beautiful daughter and show her how the world is one big family.

Surely I could find male friends who’ve given up on being a father. They would adore spending time with a small blonde wonder, wouldn’t they?

Turns out there were plenty of men who loved the idea of being a borrowed father.

The Stand-Ins

One gentleman bought her a yellow tool box (just her size) and taught her to build things. She loved that so much. They are still friends.

Another long-time friend, a full-time watercolor artist (no children), lived part-time in two places — Hawaii and Aspen. He took her to Disneyworld and to a very fancy resort in Hawaii.

At this resort, they spent most of their time in the (astonishing, gorgeous, kid friendly) pool. My daughter thought it was a miracle that you could ask someone to bring you a hot dog and a drink and they would — on a tray with a white napkin.

This wonderful man gave her spontaneous art lessons whenever she seemed interested. In Aspen he showed her how to paint an aspen tree. I watched him with my own eyes. It was miraculous watching that tree appear! They are still friends, as well.

One man (a single father) had five sons and wanted his little guys to know what it was like to have a sister. They borrowed her and discovered girls play very differently than boys. MacKenzie provided quite a departure from the daily routine in their rough and tumble all male household. She loved having brothers.

Another good friend of mine who never had children loved theme parks and roller coasters took her to Knott’s Berry Farm, Disneyland, and Legoland. She loved outings with him and they came back from their adventures sporting gigantic smiles. One grown up kid and one little kid — what a great pair and yes, they are still friends to this day.

My female friends with no children borrowed her, too, so she had extra mothers as well. Girlfriends took her to movies and art galleries, fashion shows, lunch and shopping.

MacKenzie loved having more than one parent. It fit her style perfectly. She related well to adults and developed an impressive vocabulary at an early age.

I made sure she had an ongoing family of  brothers and sisters by opening a daycare. (Oh gosh, what was I thinking?) I took in five other children. (I have never cleaned so much in all my life.)

I have nothing but respect for single mothers. This book would have ended with prayer hands, bowing to every parent who raises children solo. This book would have been about reverence.

If I had written my relationship book after my third divorce.

You’d be confused. Or bored. Or you wouldn’t care enough to finish the book. Maybe you would have tossed it in the trash.

(Hasn’t this girl learned anything yet? She’s still getting divorced.)

If I had written my relationship book after my fourth marriage.

Oh, wait! That’s what I’m doing! You’re gonna be so glad I did that! You’ll be so glad I waited!!!

I get it now. I’ve learned so much about love and marriage and I’m putting it on paper. I bet you’ll get it, too. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll find pieces that matter, ideas that make a difference to you.

Besides that, I tell (really) good stories in this book. Waiting can be such a good thing!

P.S. (I know, I know… I’m workin’ on it. I didn’t look at my book for a year, during Eric’s sickness and death. It was a mind-blowing to pick it up again after all that time — I realized how much I had changed. Now I’ve re-edited the book once through and I’m heading back into it for one last pass before I give it to my editor. It’s basically a very long blog — it takes time to get it right.)

divorce, In Care of Relationships, single mother, Terri Crosby

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