I thought the end was upon us for a week or so - a waning of "more than a friend" interest on the Princess front - when suddenly there we were...heading off to a mid-week wrestling match, and she asked me the following:
"How do you know when you meet your 'Daddy' [aka, the uber-husbandly and wonderful Beloved]?"
"Why? Have you met a 'Daddy?'"
"NO! I mean ye--, well....never mind." [<-- rough translation: we are getting uncomfortably close to a point of fact or truth that I do not wish face or otherwise explore]
"Okay, to answer the first part of your question, I just knew. There was no rhyme or reason or perfect timing involved, I just felt utterly at peace and had no doubt in my mind that this was the person I knew would never, ever betray my trust, would care for me, love me, know all my faults but put up with me anyway...so when the day came and the ring appeared, I just looked into those blue eyes and I knew I was home. And you know what I've always said, and what you've been taught, is simple because it's true: marriage is a vocation. Just as Fr. [our dear Nigerian priest friend] explained his vocation, you know. You feel that pull, that calling, that soft voice in the back of your mind...and I truly believe that voice, for me, was the Holy Spirit telling me to stop searching and doubting. The soul that was going to help heal my soul was right there in front of me."
[Silence, a little dampness in the eyes, a heavy sigh]
"That's what I'm afraid of. I'm not ready for it. Not for years, and not until I'm sure that there's no one else out there. I feel like such a jerk."
What's a helo mom to say? A very fine line to tread, so I came up with this:
"Pray. Pray for your future husband...--"
"I already do, Mom, every single night." [Wow! We had that conversation a few years ago, and she still really does it!]
"--...whoever he may be, and let God sort it out. In the meantime, you are adored by a good and well-regarded boy who has no nefarious intentions towards you, wants nothing more than to court you unless or until you are ready to date him, lives for the opportunity simply to be with you on whatever terms you dictate, respects your innocence and modesty, and would never hurt or betray you. But no one says you HAVE TO be with him. If you don't want to see him anymore, say so. If you do, then stop all the fretting, relax, enjoy this time in your lives, and be glad that this is the type of young man you'll always remember as your first boyfriend. You couldn't ask for a better, kinder, or more patient one."
Silence. (Man, I must've overplayed my hand...)
So we arrive at the match, and to my utter disbelief, their little world tilted on its axis. For the first time ever - in public - she went right over and sat next to her Athlete between his individual events as she studied for her midterm exams. He was a bit stunned, but went ahead and draped an over-sized arm around her (whoa!) and without a word, she settled herself right into his side, binder in her lap, and read on...he chimed in here and there to quiz her or respond to her questions about his experiences with exams in this particular class, etc.
At one point, I looked over at the two of them, did a double take, and he looked over the top of her studious little head at me with the most adorable expression of shock, awe, joy...with a little bit of fear thrown in (a la "don't make any sudden moves or she'll bolt...") and grinned at me like he'd just won the lotto.
I threw him a discreet thumbs-up, turned away and continued my conversation with his delightful mother, with whom I've struck up a nice acquaintance over the past few weeks at these marathon matches. At the end of his last match - which he lost by a point - he was very frustrated with himself and not his usual happy-go-lucky self as he returned to the stands. She stood up and started to speak to him about how well he'd done, but he shook his head at her and (being both bitter and sweaty) sat behind her. She turned, grabbed and patted his hand...kissed it (flippin' WHOA!)...tucked it into her hand and returned to her books. After he picked his jaw up off the bleachers, he resumed his place at her side and never let go until the tournament ended. The Moms exchanged raised eyebrows, said not a word, and went back to our chat. As we went to fetch our cars, her son gave my daughter a hug, kissed the top of her head and she hopped up and smooched him right back somewhere in the vicinity of his chin or lips - in front of others - and then ran for the car. He was still rooted in place at the curb as we pulled away.
I said nothing. We seem to have turned a corner. I got the ritual pre-evening phone call/permission-seeking text, which read in pertinent part as follows:
Thanks so much for coming all the way up to [Match Site HS]. You got to see my worst loss on the best day of my life. :-)
I have already offered to adopt this kid if anything bad ever happens to his family. His only concern: "you'd have to get a second job to be able to afford to feed me..." And yes, I would.
So back to his Mom. She invited me on her "morning stroll" with a group of friends, which "stroll" turned out to be 2 hours of scaling half a mountain through the snow...and I managed not to humiliate myself. Much. Other than a blister from my insufficient snow boots, I survived the winter equivalent of a Bataan Death March and have been jumped into the Mom gang.
So the Moms have met. We have discussed. We have colluded. We have witnessed a hasty public liplock between our children. She tried unsuccessfully to kill me, and now likes me.
Yes. Just like that old Seinfeld episode, lines have been crossed. The worlds have collided.
I have no idea what will be next...but the long-awaited dance is in a little under 2 weeks. I shall report in accordingly.
Helo Mom out.