I had to end a love I'd hoped would last through anything.
What I had failed to appreciate was that the mother of a young child cannot simply choose the man she wants and needs and love him wholeheartedly in her child's home without suffering the debilitating consequences of her child's wrath.
But lest I give a seven-year-old too much credit, let me add that my older beloved was himself a boy of 22, half my age and still wanting to be the child rather than father to the child. He was ill prepared to accept the structure entailed by life with me and my little familiar.
After only four months of living with the two of them, I felt thoroughly beaten up. I was ultimately to blame, of course. The band of searing pain wrapped around my core was because I couldn't imagine a situation in which love wasn't enough.
When my son was born, I discovered how much fun the simplest things could be: putting objects into a bucket and taking them out again, examining a crocus, reading every word of every piece of junk mail that came to the flat.
What made it all fun was loving and learning with my baby. Ray was named for the sun, and since I first laid dazzled eyes on him, I've been in orbit around him.
He enchanted my life, and I wanted to enchant his. When he planted crayons in the garden, I made sure they turned into a crayon tree.
Ray grew up and started school. Then I met a young man. Like me, he's a dreamer seeking enchantment. One of the things he liked about me was that I made a crayon tree bloom on the first day of spring.
With him I rediscovered the ecstasy in everyday, grown-up things: reading novels aloud, making pizza from scratch, watching a storm, chatting over espresso.
In bed with my dark and lovely partner, I learned that my body was capable of climbing to heaven. I found myself in orbit around another star.
I believed this boy with whom I felt as the gods must, buoyant and blissy, was my life partner.
It wasn't long before I had to acknowledge that I could not, in fact, live my life with him.
When my young man first moved in with us, my son would often crawl into our bed in the middle of the night. On my other side, my young man would stir, want me, come into me from behind.
My happiness was palpable. Strangers gave me flowers from their gardens or compliments on my smile, gifts to a goddess.
I wish I could say that my two sources of light and warmth melded into some kind of binary star system around which I negotiated a stable, if complex, orbit. Instead, it soon became clear that each expected his own gravity to prevail.
My son tried his best and loudest to reclaim me for himself alone.
His confusion and unhappiness at the sudden entrance of another into my heart made him intolerable company.
My young man, unsatisfied with fly-by kisses and frustrated by my child-dominated routine, started to fade away, spending nights out with a girl his own age and as carefree and unbound as himself.
My two boys resented each other, and I spent myself in a misguided attempt to facilitate their separate existences. I got so fed up with my life that once, when they were both out for the day, I posted a "No Boys" sign on my door. You know the kind, red circle, stick-figures with a line through them.
Just before he moved out, my young man wrote a bluesy song about the wretched turn our life together had taken. "She's got a kid who shares the bed," he sang.
Well, a year later, my kid still shares the bed, a bed where I lie dreaming of a life in which love is enough.
Liz Wertan is a pseudonym
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