I exhaled, “I guess that’s the kid-friendly version, huh? Do you suggest we do it now?”
Michael shrugged, “how often do they get a chance at seeing us together?”
I sighed, “you have a point. Well… I guess I’ll go get them-”
“No, it’s okay. I’ll bring them down. You wait here.”
I stayed put as he walked upstairs. I didn’t intend on having this conversation until the twins were like ten. Four seems a bit extreme, but since they’re already inquiring about our family structure, I’d be a lousy parent to ignore their curiosity. They deserve to know.
“Come on, Mimi! Jump!” MJ called up to his sister as he waited at the bottom of the stairs. “It’s only two steps,” he encouraged her.
“Daddy’ll catch you if you fall. It’s okay,” Michael squatted down to be the same height as MJ.
Mimi nervously peered over at me. My shy girl…
“You can do it! It’ll feel like you’re flying,” I smiled back at her.
My daughter mirrored my smile and jumped from the third step right into her father’s arms.
“Good job, Mimi!” MJ clapped. “See? I told you it wouldn’t be that bad!”
Michael stood up and walked over to me as he carried Mimi.
MJ happily skipped over to me. “Can I call Grandpa?”
“Once we leave, I’ll call him for you. Right now, we have to talk.”
“Hm. Okay.” He shrugged and crawled onto my lap.
Michael sat down in the chair across from me and put Mimi on his lap. “Did you guys have fun this week?”
The twins nodded in unison.
“Now we’re gonna have fun with Mommy!” Mimi smiled at me. I smiled back at her.
I really don’t want to have this conversation so soon…
“Michael, you asked a very important question yesterday,” Michael reminded our son. Well, he’s starting off quicker than expected. “You and Milan asked very important questions. And as your parents, it’s only right that your mother and I answer those questions for you.”
The twins looked between us in silence, waiting for what else was going to be said.
Michael looked me in the eye and opened his mouth to speak, only for nothing to come out. He didn’t want to have this conversation just as much as I didn’t.
I sighed and looked down at MJ, “remember when you asked Daddy why he couldn’t come with us yesterday?” My son nodded. I looked over at Mimi, “remember when you asked him why he can’t stay with us?” She nodded back to me. I pressed my lips together and looked back up at Michael, who was just as nervous as I was. But somebody had to say it. “The reason why is because Mommy and Daddy realized we’re much happier apart than we are together.”
Michael and Milan’s eyebrows furrowed together in identical confusion.
MJ looked over at his father. “Mommy didn’t make you happy?”
Michael swallowed, “she did. I just couldn’t make Mommy happy.”
“Why not?” Mimi asked.
Michael pursed his lips, “Daddy couldn’t treat Mommy the way she wanted to be treated.”
“Why?” MJ asked.
Once again, Michael opened his mouth, but nothing came out.
“He loved me,” I took over. “He just couldn’t treat me the way I wanted to be treated.”
“Do you guys still love each other?” Our son looked between the both of us.
An awkward silence ensued. We knew we still loved each other, but it’s difficult to admit.
“Do you?” Mimi pressed.
“Well, yeah, but-” Michael and I stammered.
“Well, if you love each other, shouldn’t you be together?” MJ asked us.
I shook my head no. “It’s not that simple, baby.”
“Daddy, don’t you love Mommy?” Mimi looked up at her father.
“Of course, I do, baby, but-”
“Then why didn’t you treat her right?”
Michael and I were equally stunned.
Our children are intelligent. We’ve never talked to them with “baby talk.” We read to them every night. They’re taught the absolute best that preschool has to offer, and they will attend the best schools. But sometimes, their intelligence at four amazes me. Sometimes it feels like they’ve been here before.
“Baby, look,” I looked at both Michael and Milan. “All that matters is that we love both of you. Our job is to love, protect and raise you the best way we know how. That’s it. What happened between your father and me happens a lot. Sometimes… people aren’t meant to be together,” I looked up at my ex-husband. All he could do was nod. I know for a fact he disagrees with that last statement. “Your father and I may not have been meant for each other, but we were meant to be your parents. We love you so much,” I tickled MJ’s stomach as I smothered his giggling face in kisses. “And that’s all that matters.”
“Does that answer your questions?” Michael asked the twins.
“Uh-huh!” They nodded in unison.
I sighed a breath of relief. In about ten years, this conversation will be much more challenging than this one was.
“Welp, let’s get you going so you all can see your grandparents,” Michael lifted Mimi off his lap.
“Race you upstairs,” MJ challenged his sister, only for her to take off running without waiting for his countdown. “Hey! No fair!” He ran after her.
“That went better than expected,” Michael smiled a bit.
“Yeah,” I sighed. “Until they started asking questions I didn’t expect from them.”
“Whew!” He laughed. “Who you tellin’?”
“But we handled it well,” I reached over to touch his hand.
Michael looked down at my hand on his and pressed his lips together. “Question.”
“What’s up?” I stood up.
He stood up to face me. “Forgive me, but I know I wasn’t the only one who felt that….”
I raised a brow. “Felt what?”
“Do you still love me?”
I smiled to myself. “Michael…”
“No, I’m serious,” He took my hand in his. “When Michael asked if we still loved each other, that silence didn’t mean the contrary.”
“Michael,” I slowly took my hand out of his. “I have a flight to catch.”
“I know. I’m just asking-”
“You’re the father of my children. I’ll never not love you. Now, please. I have a flight to catch. I’ll see you next week,” I offered a small smile and walked away without looking back.
I should have known this talk was going to make him say something like that to me. We can never get back together, and he knows this. But I guess the letters he’s been sending have been giving him hope.
“Come on, babies,” I collected the twins' belongings. “Y’all ready?” I called after them, which prompted them to hurry over to me.
“Yep!” Michael rushed to put on his shoes. “Mommy, are you sure we’re gonna make a pitstop at grandma and grandpas? Because I can’t wait to see Matthew and Uncle Matt. Uncle Matt said he was gonna teach me how to ride a bike next time we visit.”
“Do you guys really want to go?”
“Yeeesss!” My children said in unison.
“Alright, we’ll go.”
“Yay!” They squealed.
“Come on, let’s get in the car,” I told Teddy and everyone else goodbye as we all filed out of the front door. We’ll probably end up spending one night in Ohio. I know how much my children love my family and vice versa, but we might have to cut this time short this one time.
“Mommy, I have something for you,” Mimi reached in her backpack to pull out an envelope.
“Thank you, sweetie,” I took the envelope out of her hand and buckled her into her seat.
“Daddy said to make sure you don’t throw this one away.”
“Is that what he said?”
“Mmhm,” she nodded.
“Well, I’ll keep it just because you said so, okay?” I tapped her nose.
As we made our way to the airport, I opened the envelope to read the letter Michael had given Mimi.
Much like the others, Michael admitted his wrongdoings and is coming to understand certain things now. While I’m happy for him, I really don’t know what he wants me to do. I’ve moved on, and he knows this. I know it’s hard for him to fully accept, but I need him to.
What happens when I start dating again?
He can’t continue these letters then. I won’t allow it. And whoever I’m dating certainly won’t go for that.
“Mommy, can I call Grandpa?” MJ asked.
“Yeah…” I pulled my phone out and called my parents before giving my son the phone.
“Going home?” Amala asked me.
I sighed, “yeah. Only for a little while. You okay with that?”
“That’s fine. Mr. Hammond called while you and Michael were downstairs.”
“What’d he say?”
“Just checking to see how your flight was. I told him you’d call him once you got settled down.”
“So… now he’s expecting a call from me, huh?”
“As usual,” she smiled.
Maybe I should give Andrew a try.