I should really be asleep right now.
Tomorrow’s gonna be fucking nuts.
Tobias’ football game is at nine, then I’ve gotta drop Stefan off at a birthday party at one (oh shit… still gotta get him a gift to bring too…), and finish shopping for Lina’s baby shower by four (did I mention it’s on SUNDAY?!) so I can make it to the theater in time for rehearsal…
Shit. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
But no matter how hard I try, I can’t sleep.
I just keep thinking about what happened tonight at dinner.
It started out as nothing special – just the usual idle chit-chat about how our days went. Jonas cracked a few jokes, Mãe complained about a big contract that had fallen through…
Then Tobias asked Jonas to pass him the potatoes.
But he didn’t call him Jonas.
He called him Papa.
People always talk about those silences that are so absolute, you can hear a pin drop. Well, I think this is one of the only times in my life I’ve ever experienced it for myself. I don’t think any of us knew what to say… So we ended up just kinda staring, y’know?
And my poor baby… He thought he’d done something wrong! He started apologizing… He said it just slipped out, and promised he’d never do it again.
Jonas was quick to make sure he knew it was okay. More than okay, really.
And would you believe it? He got all choked up, right there in the kitchen. Well damn.
It was the first time I’ve seen my husband cry, ever. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so happy. Not even at our wedding.
He’s told me time and time again just how much he loves my boys. And it’s not like I ever DOUBTED him or anything, but… seeing him like that definitely helped seal the deal. And, to be honest, I felt so happy I almost shed a few tears myself.
But then I saw Stefan’s face.
And it broke my heart.
Stefan’s relationship with Jonas has always been… complicated, to say the least. The boys were too young to remember the first few times I tried dating again after they were born… And thankfully none of those scumbags ever met either one of my babies. Jonas was the first. And he ended up being the last, too.
And at first, both of my boys really seemed to love him. In fact, I still remember the two of them practically jumping up and down, begging for me to invite Jonas over to “play”… Pretty damn adorable, right?
But everything changed after the engagement.
I was open and honest with them, right from the start. I sat each of them down on their own, and made sure they were okay with it. Tobias was thrilled, of course. No big surprise there.
But Stefan was quiet for a long time. He’s always been kind of a funny kid, I guess… Definitely a Hell of a lot more thoughtful than most kids his age.
Anyway, he finally turned to me, and I still remember exactly what he said: “If that’s really want you want, then I guess it’s okay. But he’ll never be my Papa. You know that, right Mama?”
“Don’t worry.” I’d assured him. “No one says he has to be, okay?”
And I thought that would be the end of it.
That was over a year ago. But ever since, things seem to be getting worse and worse.
It’s mostly little things. Stefan cringes whenever Jonas tries to hug or touch him. He ignores him when he says “I love you.” He rolls his eyes at his jokes. He snaps at him over the stupidest shit. And he’s always saying it, day after day: “You’re not my Papa.”
Jonas puts on such a brave face through it all… But I know how much it hurts him.
And I can’t help but feel like this is all my fault.
I know, I know. I’m always blaming myself for shit. But this time… I really think it is.
I’ve been lying to my boys. Ever since the day they were born. And I know how horrible that sounds. But what the Hell am I supposed to tell them when they ask about their dad?! I mean, Christ, they still think you can get pregnant just from kissing someone.
They were probably around 4 or 5 when they first started asking. And at the time, the best thing I could come up with was that their father went away a long time ago, before they were born. So I just sorta rolled with it.
Tobias doesn’t ask nearly as often as he used to. But Stefan does all the time. And my answers just keep getting weaker and weaker.
“What was his name?”
“I don’t remember.”
“Where did he go?”
“I don’t know.”
“When will he come back?”
What the Hell else can I say?!
I know I’ll have to tell them the truth one day. I’ve always known that. And let me tell you, I am fucking DREADING that day when it finally comes. How do I even begin to tell my kids about all the shit I’ve done? I don’t even want to think about it. But I know I can’t keep up this charade forever. My boys are too smart. Too clever.
I just… I wish I had a real answer for them.
I think about it all the time. Every time I look at their sweet little faces, I wonder.
Which one was it? All those guys, all those years ago… I’ve got it narrowed down to probably seven or so. All the ones I was with when things started going south with Humberto. But do you think I can remember any of their names? Hell, their faces are already a blur to me.
I couldn’t even find the guy if I tried.
At first, I used to think it was Humberto. And for a while, I wanted nothing more than for them to be his.
The boys were almost two when I finally swallowed my pride and gave Humberto that phone call. I’d been avoiding him for so long… and I had so much to apologize for. So much to thank him for too. Hell, I wouldn’t be standing here today if it wasn’t for him. I know I wouldn’t.
The least I could give him in return was a chance to find out if the boys were his.
But they weren’t.
I never realized it was possible to feel so relieved and so disappointed at the same time.
But either way, I still didn’t have my answer. And that sucked.
I guess the one good thing that came of it was having Humberto back in my life again. But as nothing more than a friend… One of the best friends I think I’ve ever had. He’d already found someone else by then anyway – someone he loves so much. And I was so happy for him, even though it hurt like Hell. He deserved it. If anyone deserves to be happy, it’s him.
And as for me… Well, I decided a long time ago that my boys are all the happiness I need.
Or at least, they were before Jonas came along.
And now, with the three of them, I finally have everything I could ever want. Ever need.
But for Stefan, and maybe even Tobias too, I think there’ll always be something missing.
And all I can do is sit by and watch as my babies hold on to the hope of a father who’s never coming home.