This was not how I envisioned it.
I adore holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. They are a huge source of relaxation and warm fuzzies for me. I adore spending time with my parents, and whoever else can make their way to little-town St-Isidore for lots of food, card games and laughs.
This was the first Thanksgiving holiday since my separation. And where were my parents? Not at home. Not puttering around the kitchen getting the turkey ready or swearing while losing at Euchre. They were on holiday in New York City.
Cool right? Amazing trip. A gift from my Mom’s best friend. Dad finally got his birth certificate issues sorted out and obtained his passport in time to put it in Mom’s birthday card as a surprise. Their first trip together in years. FANTASTIC.
As ecstatic as I was for them, I was (still am?) equally pissed. Who the f*&% leaves their relatively-newly-single-mom daughter alone on a major holiday?
Oh, and they asked me if I could come by to feed the cats on the holiday Monday, which wouldn’t really be an issue except for a) I live 50 minutes away and b) my aunt lives 30 seconds away… but I digress. I’m over it. Sort of. 😉
I’m not one to sit around a mope about things… much… so I knew I had to make sure this weekend wasn’t a washout. Here’s how it went down:
A few text messages back and forth between my beau (Trevor) and I turned into a multi-pet-store trek to buy a Betta and the necessary accoutrement. I had considered surprising the girls with a pet fish for Christmas, but I figured this weekend was as good an excuse as any to make an addition to the “family.” DD2 named him “Boyfriend”. As the runners-up in the naming brainstorming were “Coolio” and “Fishy”, I’m fairly pleased with the girls’ choice.
Don't be alarmed. I didn't buy eerie twin fish. It's just some photographic trickery.
Wanting to capitalise on the gorgeous weather, Trevor and I took the girls for a walk down by the river. Overall, it was extremely relaxing. Trevor tried to teach DD4 how to skip stones. He got more than he bargained for when DD4 pelted him with a rock. I got an insane fit of the giggles when I realised that I caught a photo of the vicious stone mid-air.
Micro-seconds before he said "Ow".
Me trying really hard to *relax*.
Saturday evening was spent at “Auntie Danielle and Uncle Craig’s” place for an amazing Thanksgiving dinner. It was a potluck. They made the turkey, stuffing, gravy and a dessert. Everyone else was responsible for side dishes. It was delicious and special and fun and everything a holiday dinner should be.
(Aside: an entire post could be written about the fact that my friend Danielle and I have hit the amazing milestone of 20 years of friendship. TWENTY YEARS! Mind. Blown.)
I will spare you the details. It was stressful and challenging and full of lessons. It may be the subject of a future blog post… once I can properly find the joy in it.
The little ladies and I chilled out on the couch to watch a movie. Not exactly the active-outdoor events of Saturday, but comforting nonetheless.
I swear I didn't notice we were so darn symmetrical until *after* I took the top shot.
After lunch, we made the looooong trek to my parents’ place to feed the cats. (Ok. ok. I’ll stop complaining now.)
It only took me about five minutes to take care of the pets. While the girls were happily playing with the cat toys (sigh) I found myself pacing around the house. I felt so terribly awkward. I didn’t know what to do with myself. A text from Trevor suggested that I “relax”. WTF is that?! I seem to have lost the concept of properly relaxing. Here I was, mid-autumn, in a quiet and quaint country home surrounded by beautiful nature and the sound of giggling kids, and I was feeling frantic. I didn’t even take my shoes off for the first hour. (Shhhhh… don’t tell Mom!”)
10 months into the separation, and I still can’t fully relax into this whole single-mom thing.
So, I sat down. I took of my shoes. I got out some of the girls’ toys from the spare room. I found some fixings for dinner. And I watched my girls play.
They are beautiful… And smart and funny and energetic and creative and caring and lovely and…
I’m terrified of letting them down. Because, now, it truly feels like 100% of the responsibility of forming these girls into fully-functioning, happy, healthy adults rests on my shoulders. Now I know that’s not really true. It takes a village. I have villagers to help me in spades and I’m thankful for each and every one of them. I saw that first hand this weekend. Friends around the dinner table. Friends texting, IMing, emailing all to see how I was doing. My sis being supportive. A gorgeous, caring boyfriend looking after me. I even spoke to my Dad while he was walking with Mom to a (what I’m sure was) an incredibly fancy dinner in NYC that I’m not at all jealous about. (*sob*teehee*)
My concept of “family”… of what that means… of who is part of it… it’s all changing. Being redefined. And that’s scary. Because at one point it was less scary when it was two taking care of two. One taking care of two seems… off-balance.
And so I’m still trying to find that balance. Gaining a better understanding of how to define my role in my little family.
One thing I know for sure: I am incredibly thankful for my daughters. As hard as this job is, I have zero regrets. I sometimes feel like they are killing me, but really I live for them.