Helios had been listening to (bad) dance music and was Dad Dancing around the flat last night. He wasn’t impressed when I poked fun at him. He said “I am a dad!” It’s at times like this that I wish I’d met him when we were younger. Being childless myself makes me feel as though I slept a decade and when I awoke, all my friends had kids and I was left saying “What’d I miss?” Not only am I still in shock with the fact that my friends have kids, but I’ve got a strange drowsy feeling when they talk about their kids too. I understand what they say about how kids can be like this or that but I don’t know what living with it is like. Having said that, I don’t want the step-kids to think that I don’t adore them because I do cherish them – but there are times when I wish I’d have had kids with Helios. Apollo and Maia, if you ever read this please know that if I ever had kids of my own, I couldn’t love them more than I love you.
When I say I love you, yes I mean both Apollo and Maia. I’m now imagining Apollo reading this and thinking I’m off my rocker because I’ve only met him a couple of times. I’d expect Maia to react even more strongly because I’ve not met her at all. However, the fact of the matter is that I’ve loved you for a long time. To explain why, I have a story to tell you both.
One morning when I was 11 my mom sat me down. She was clearly uncomfortable and I wondered if I was in trouble, being 11 I was accustomed to getting in trouble for doing daft things from time to time and Mom would “talk to me” in that way that parents sometimes do. It was that morning that she told me that she was expecting her second baby. When she’d finished I thought “I’m not in trouble?” and said “Can I go outside and play?” I wasn’t in shock at that point, rather I was relieved that Mom wasn’t disappointed that I’d done something daft. It obviously took a number of months for me to realise how much a baby in the house would change my life and, as Mom blossomed, I took more interest in the expected arrival. I wondered what my sister would look like. I wondered who she would grow to be, what music she would like, what books she would like, what food she would like, which paintings she would love and if she would be like me. In this way, and through months of anticipation, I grew to love her. Without having met her or seen her, I loved her. I don’t see her as much as I would like but she’s family. She will always be my sister. Although she occasionally drives me crazy (She’s family, that’s her job!) I still love her.
When we were dating, Helios sat me down to discuss his past – the time before his second wife came into his life. I understood the significance of his two children on his life. At the time I was in shock for a number of days: I know how a baby changes your life forever. In pondering the existence of Apollo and Maia, I rediscovered the man I thought I knew. I found that his revelation only made my feelings for him stronger. Despite Helios saying “My kids don’t want to know me”, I couldn’t help but think about them. As with the impending arrival of my sister, I began to anticipate knowing both Apollo and Maia – what are they like? What food do they like? What books do they read? What are their friends like? What art do they appreciate? Do they speak another language? What do they want to do when they grow up? I was desperate to see them.
I surmised that one of them would get in touch with us eventually. Having experience as a child of divorced parents, I put myself in their shoes and could only see them getting in touch. Helios was unconvinced and told me not to get my hopes up. I was delighted when Maia got in touch a year ago. I remember that night well. I left to do the dishes to let them have a little time together. He kept popping into the kitchen and telling me about her. His chin was on the floor all night. I could have knocked him over with a feather when he came to the realisation that it really was her. Before Maia got in touch, Helios had found that the only way he could live with the knowledge that Apollo and Maia were out there was to give up the hope that they would ever want to know him. Hope is a funny thing after all – sometimes it gives you a glow of warmth and comfort and sometimes, if neglected, it can shrivel and shrink like a raisin in the sun. Perhaps because I had come into Helios’s life more recently, I hadn’t had the time to let hope whither. For me, hope glows still for contact with Maia.
As with the arrival of my sister, I couldn’t help but love Apollo and Maia. But then, who wouldn’t?