Dear Little Man,
I got this picture during our giant family Thanksgiving get together a couple months ago. The Boyfriend was carrying you to the dirt flats (you can see them off to the left) and there was no way I was going to miss that. Dirt + Toddler = Super Cute (Messy) Photo Shoot.
It didn’t get too messy (aside from the one time you pitched a handful of dirt at me, and yes, I forgive you) but I can’t tell you how gooey and melty I get on the inside when I see you with The Boyfriend. I love how the two of you get along — you always have fun together and he always makes you smile.
You and The Boyfriend get along on that “boy level” that I — with my two X chromosomes — will never be able to understand intuitively. Playing in dirt? Not the first idea any girl is going to come up with when taking care of a toddler. But The Boyfriend? He just knows things like that. He knows what you’ll have fun doing and he doesn’t care if he’s going to get dirty (or soaked or cold or uncomfortable) in the process.
He is great with you. He makes time for you when you come into town and he always offers to drive with me when I mention going to visit you. If we have a road trip planned, he suggests swinging by to say hello to The B’s and he reads your letters whenever I write one. He cares about you, and for that, I love him even more that I already do.
Falling in love was always something to look forward to when I was younger. Then it was exciting when it first happened. Then it was devastating when it ended. Then it was a non-issue for a while. Then, after enough time, the hope sparked again and it started all over. None of us can give up for long.
The Boyfriend is the first man I have been in love with since your dad. I don’t take love lightly — I never have. It’s not a word I throw around. I don’t think it should be used when you want something from someone or when you’re simply having fun with someone. To me, loving someone means for better or for worse. It means no matter what. It means when you’re mad at me and when you’re more successful than me and when you disappoint me. It’s not “for now” or “until you make me angry.” It’s for good.
I’ve been called naïve for thinking of love that way. I’ve been proved naïve for thinking that way. Not because my thinking was faulty, but because I failed to realize that not everyone you fall in love with is going to see love the way you do. You may think it means “no matter what” but if they think if means “for now,” you’re out of luck. It was a clarification I failed to make the first time. And I don’t make the same mistakes twice.
I wasn’t looking for love when I found The Boyfriend. I’ve always been a very happy single woman — “looking for love” is not my thing. When I met The Boyfriend in our university library, he was just a new friend of a friend. I think I jokingly challenged him to a fight, though I forget why. But I like that it started out that way. I feel like the best love stories are always the unexpected, almost accidental kind.
Even after the L-word was said (and felt) I think it was a while before either of us let go of the fear and dared to believe it was true. I remember giving him my speech on what love meant to me. I told him what mistake I would never make again. I gave him the do-you-know-what-you’re-getting-yourself-into speech and the don’t-say-it-if-you-don’t-mean-it speech. As brave as I like to think I am, I was scared. I wrote this letter to you when I realized how fearful I really was of the L-word. But as the trust grew, the fear diminished. The feelings grew deeper and our relationship became stronger than any other one I’d ever had.
But most importantly, The Boyfriend is the first guy I have ever introduced to you. He is the first guy I ever brought over to meet The B’s. You and your family are the most important part of my life and though I am not raising you, who I bring into your life…well, they aren’t just “anybody.” Neither is The Boyfriend — he drove up to meet you on your second birthday.
In a few days, I will have been with The Boyfriend longer than I’ve ever been with anyone else. Our relationship is solid — “No matter what” is my saying with him, just like “You are not alone” is my saying with J. And we live by it, he and I. We love each other no matter how frustrated or aggravated or angry or sad or upset we make one another (which isn’t very often, don’t worry). Our friends and family think we’re nauseating because we’re so in love. One of the The Boyfriend’s brothers told me that we act like we’re still in our first week of dating. I don’t mind. I hope we’re still that nauseating years from now.
Out of the many, many reasons why I love The Boyfriend, the fact that he loves you ranks at the top. And oh, how I love him. For so many reasons, in so many different ways, for as long as I can…and he feels the same. It’s incredible. He makes me happy, and someday, I hope that will make you happy.
And just like Dirt + Toddler = Super Cute (Messy) Photo Shoot…
Your Love + The Boyfriend’s Love = The Luckiest Girl in the Whole World.