Childrearing

Love Is Forever, Unless You Suddenly Have To Raise Your Friend’s Children

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wedding ringsI love advice columns, probably because they so often make me feel better about myself. I have my problems, but at least I’m not writing to an advice columnist to shame a sibling for serving my kids processed food while doing me a favor that can never be repaid. Today that did not work, though, because a woman writing to Slate’s Dear Prudence asked for advice about sharing news, but she should have asked for tips about how to care for a halo because the woman is a saint.

The letter writer told Prudence that her best friend had died recently in a sudden and unexpected accident, and she was now raising her friend’s five-year-old twins. The friend had been a single mother who was not in touch with her family, and they had previously discussed the letter writer’s taking the children in the case of tragedy. Unfortunately, the letter writer’s fiance balked at the idea of becoming a father to a pair of grieving five-year-old twins, but even in the face of that she wasn’t writing to ask whether she should choose the fiance or the kids. She never thought about not taking the kids, she just wanted advice on how to tell people the wedding was off. She wrote:

My best friend since college died suddenly. Prior to her death we had talked about my getting custody of her children in the event of such an occurrence. She was a single mother by choice and fortunately could afford to do it. I have been with her from Day 1 and have watched her babies grow up and consider them to be as much mine as hers. She had been estranged from her family for many years so there was never any question as to who would care for them if she was unable. Some months before the accident I became engaged but now that there are kids in the picture he has put the brakes on the engagement. He always seemed to like children, and had expressed interest in having a family, but now he is saying that he isn’t sure he wants the responsibility of taking on a pair of grieving 5-year-olds. I am naturally very hurt but agreed that if he doesn’t feel he can commit to being a father then we cannot be married. How do I explain to people who are expecting me to be getting married in the next nine months that it is no longer happening without going into all the details of our life?

I can see why the friend wanted this woman to raise her children, because she is an amazing, noble person. It must take a lot of fortitude to take on a pair of five-year-olds who have lost their mother in the first place. The fact that she remained committed to that when the person she loves said he was backing out means she must have a heart and backbone made of diamond. I don’t even know this woman, and I want to ask her to be my children’s guardian.

Her ability to see things from her fiance’s point of view makes her seem like a superhero. His decision to back out of the wedding is not exactly deserving of its own halo, but one can understand where he’s coming from and if he doesn’t want to deal with a ready-made family, it’s best that he announce it now. Personally, I think he’d do well to reconsider, because this woman is clearly a person of amazing character, and he’d be a fool to let her go.

I have no idea what I would do in that woman’s situation. I would like to flatter myself and say I’d do exactly the same, but it’s hard to know unless you’ve been tested. Either way, my heart goes out to those poor twins who lost their mother, but I am glad for them that they have gone to such a wonderful and loving guardian.

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