F is for Integrity
We spend four weeks apart, two weeks together. Four weeks apart, two weeks together. Four weeks apart, two weeks together. Four weeks feels like four years, two weeks like two days.
He’s truly handsome. Stylish, well-groomed, quiet, mannered, magnetic. Women are drawn to him. While we were out with his friends, in a club, holding hands, a woman came up and spoke in his ear. It was loud, I didn’t know anyone, I assumed she was one of his friends. “Who was that?” I asked. He didn’t know. She’d come up to him, exclaimed another name in his ear, and when he said, “No, my name is F,” she responded, “You’re beautiful, F.”
While he’s holding my hand.
Same night: we’re dancing together, forming a circle with his friends. Another woman on the outskirts is making eyes at him. After doing that for a while without results, she bounces into the middle of the circle with a sort of “ta-da! I’m here!” gesture and starts dancing up on him.
While he’s dancing with me.
His face? Pure panic. I think he thought a girl-on-girl throwdown – and not the sexy kind – was imminent.
But that’s not my scene. I don’t make scenes. I watch. I watched his panicked expression, watched him turn his back on her, watched him step even closer to me, put his arms around me, show everyone – and her – that he was with me.
All of this is to underline the point that women love my man. They’ll step to him in front of me so imagine what goes on behind me…
…while he’s away for a month and sometimes months at a time.
It would be easy for him to yield to temptation and there is always temptation readily available, even in remote camps in the Amazon rain forest or near the Arctic circle. (His two most recent haunts.)
It would be easy for him to hide it from me.
Instead, he tells me I’m his homieloverfriend. He tells me about every overture, every advance, everything. He tells the woman who tells him she wants him, wants him to stay a little longer in Suriname during his break, that he doesn’t want to because he has a woman and a family and he wants to go home to us. He comes home to us and when he’s home he tells his oldest friend that he’s become a one-woman man. (His friend says, “Oh, my friend, I’m happy for you and I’m sorry for you.”) He tells me this:
“I have two sons and I want them to be men of integrity, so I have to be a man of integrity.”
He tells me this, and I believe. It would be easy for him to have a side relationship and keep it from me. But it’s not about me. It’s about him and the kind of man he wants to be.
It’s about the kind of man he wants his sons to be.
It’s about the kind of partner he wants my daughters to have.
My daughters see him adoring me. They see us dancing in the kitchen, smooching when we think they’re not looking (they’re always looking), see us camping out in the living room for all-night movie marathons, see him coming home early – via three flights and taxi ride costing as much as a plane ticket – to surprise me, see him bringing home flowers, see the before, during and after of the international Mother’s day surprise he arranges for me. They see us Skypeing several times a day when he’s away, and on one call, my eldest says to him, “Wow, you must love Mommy a lot.” Another time, I say to her, “Sophie, when you grow up, I hope you will love your husband as much as I love F.” He objects, interjects, “No, Sophie, when you grow up, your husband must love you the way I love your Mommy.”
He wants my daughters to expect to be loved, adored, respected. If they expect that then they will accept no less than that from any man, any partner, anyone.
He wants my daughters to choose great men and our sons to be great men.
And they – our sons, our daughters – will only be that, do that, choose that, if they are shown that.
So that’s what he shows them, shows me. That’s the father he chooses to be.
A man of integrity.
normally I don’t write holiday-themed posts – mostly because I’m contrary – but this is our first Father’s Day as parents of our new baby boy. Theo is seven months old today.
So how could I resist an opportunity to write a love letter to his father?
He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it. ~Clarence Budington Kelland
The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. ― John Wooden