The first day I met Jen she wanted to look through our wedding book. She pretended to look away at the shots of us kissing, but she couldn’t hide her smile. She saw love and knew it was good.
After a couple weeks of living with us, she casually asked if I loved Jonathan more than I loved her.
I cared for Jen deeply and loved her tangibly, but I also barely knew her. As foster parents, we weren’t to be her permanent home.
But Jonathan. I love Jonathan more than I ever imagined I could love. I know him and his love intimately and transcendently. He is my permanent home.
The chasm weighed on me. I worried it might cheapen the forever family love I hoped and prayed for her if I promised that same depth now. New and naïve, I answered honestly, “I love you, but Jonathan is my partner and the one I love more than anyone.”
It was one of my biggest mistakes. I hit a nerve.
We drew hearts upon hearts trying to visualize how partner love was different than child love. How out of our love springs a greater love for her. It all fell flat. And finally I stopped forcing an issue that this hurt little girl’s heart and head couldn’t understand. I drew her one big heart where everyone was loved equally and moved on. Except that Jen didn’t.
For months, whenever she felt slighted, she would throw back that “You and Daddy love each other more than us anyway.”
She used my words. And so I had none.