This past week celebrated #NationalBoyFriendDay and this year I'm grateful to have a man named Jason in my life who fits the bill.
I'm a divorced mother of two, and two years ago if you had told me I would find love again, I would have scoffed at you. It's not that I didn't want love. I did. But at 38, 39 and now 40 my standards of dating, especially with two kids in the mix, changed the game. I became pretty selective in who I gave my time to. I also didn't feel too great about myself.
My marriage was one of disconnect and for a couple of years before my divorce started, I got lost. I lost myself in my anger towards my spouse, my sadness of feeling trapped and the guilt that I was letting my kids down. I said and did things I never thought I would do, but now recognize that all of that ugly and pain was necessary in order to end an unhappy marriage.
Once we separated, I dated an old high school friend who lived in Pittsburgh for about a year. I live in Boston so it was a safe re-entry for me. We saw each other maybe once a month, and I looked forward to those trips. He offered me a reprieve from the insanity and the sadness I experienced when my kids were with their father.
When we broke up I was devastated, because I felt I had lost a trusted friend. We talked every night on Facetime and I had grown accustomed to his comforting face and shoulder to cry on.
For over a year I stayed single. I pretty much had given up and enjoyed being in my cave. I have my two beautiful children, a roof over my head, a job I love and a bulldog to keep me warm at night. But my old college roommate knew better, ever the hopeless romantic she wouldn't let me walk away from love.
"You are love. Don't give up," she said and encouraged me to go out with one of her friends.
After the date failed, I really threw in the towel.
Then she dropped a bombshell on me.
"My brother wants to ask you out," she said.
Wait, what? The same brother who came up to visit us in college 20 years ago and you said neither of us were allowed to look at each other, let alone go on a date? That brother?
"He's a little rough around the edges," she warned me.
After scoping out his Facebook page I decided I liked what I saw. There was something about him that made me think, "This guy doesn't give a shit what anyone thinks."
When weeks went by and I didn't hear from him I asked my roommate what was up.
"He's been really sick. No really, he's been sick."
Then I got his message. I almost missed it because he sent it through on Facebook and we weren't "friends" yet. It was one of those days were I felt like a total divorced failure, was exhausted and all I wanted to do was crawl under the covers and go to bed. Instead a new door opened.
"I found your name on the bathroom wall and thought I'd reach out to you..." was how the message started.
I burst out laughing and haven't stopped since.
When I introduce Jason as now as my boyfriend, it feels awkward. At 40, I feel silly, childish even saying, "Here's my boyfriend."
Calling him my boyfriend doesn't feel adequate enough because he is so much more.
He has become a positive mentor for my kids, making my daughter laugh and teaching my son how to play baseball. When my daughter was sick this summer and in the hospital he came to the rescue, cooking meals, taking care of my dog, learning how to do a PICC line and making sure my son got to his sporting events on time.
He is strong and in his arms I feel safe and protected. He listens to me and when I am with him I feel respected, desired, funny, intelligent, and appreciated.
He loves his parents, sister and nieces and nephew. He expresses his emotions and loves baseball.
The list is endless and I will always be learning him.
Until him, I didn't truly understand. I thought I was too broken, that I was unlovable. He has taught me to better love myself and has given me so much love.
Jason's so much more than a boyfriend. He is love.