Tag Archives: co-parenting

My Lesbian Divorce –> The Next Family

11 Oct

 

Love and gratitude to the folks at The Next Family, who invited and published my reflection today on divorce:

I never expected to stand in front of a hundred family members and friends in a long white dress, lighting candles, exchanging rings, and proclaiming my love and commitment to a woman. I never expected a ceremony like ours to be fully and legally binding. I never expected to want to be legally bound.

I never expected to be a mom, or a stepmom.

I never expected to sit around my dining room table in pajamas one Saturday morning, breaking the news of our divorce to my twelve-year-old daughter. I never, ever, ever expected that.

And yet …     [read more]

Are you sure?

25 Apr

All week, the child has one thing on her mind: “When can we go to the library?”

On Tuesday, I tell her: “Saturday.”

This feels too far away, but it’s the best I can do.

So every day after that, she checks. “I can’t wait ‘til Saturday,” she says, or, “The library!” she says – quickly – as if full sentences would leave her open too long to the possibility that I might disagree, change my mind, steal the balloon right out of her hands and send it soaring up through the clouds. It isn’t in my nature to steal a child’s balloon, but still, she worries. Every time.

Before she was a year old, she did have a helium balloon (mylar) and all day long, she held the balloon ribbon in her hand. She pulled it near. She let it stretch. She pulled it near. She let it stretch, hand over hand, all day long, even during lunch. She traded hands, too, holding it always in the hand she didn’t need to reach the food she wanted on her high chair tray.

Nap was hard that day. She didn’t want to accept that resting her balloon against a corner of the ceiling while she slept would really, truly be okay. She couldn’t believe it would still be there once nap was done.

She was testing for object permanence, I imagine. But do these tests ever go away?

Me? I check on notes. Still. And the more anxious I get, the more often I check. I check meeting notes. Notes I write to the people in my life. Notes written to me. Love notes. Story notes. Work notes. I check them all – to edit, to remember, to discover something new. But more than anything, to confirm that I am here, I was there, and this happened, and that was/is just as I recall. Simply: To. Be. Sure.

Which got me thinking: Maybe we all have something we check on, something precious, something or someone we can’t do without. Something to be sure of.

And maybe part of getting to know someone – getting to really know someone – is understanding what that something is.

Pooh and Piglet sure of you

 

Artwork from “Carrying Bags”

carryingbags.blogspot.com

Sometimes

9 Jan

Snowy HeartSometimes, when your daughter polishes off a week’s worth of homework in one night because she forgot her workbook at school the day before, when she finishes proudly at bedtime with hardly any drama, when she implodes and paints you into the devil for making her brush her teeth, when she terrifies herself with the power of tween anger, when your partner steps in briefly and paves the way for your entrance into the room of jagged breath and many tears, when you smooth your daughter’s hair finally, sitting on the edge of her bed, when you share with confidence that she will get past this anger, when you begin to understand from her that she doesn’t believe in lasting love because people all the time every day get divorced, it is a time for petting and calm and patience and love and trust and eventually, it is a time for calmer breath… and sleeping. Sometimes.

Green Eyed Doggy Mom

4 Dec

Lucy 2013I lifted our dachshund off the couch, careful to keep her little back straight. She’d already been outside for the night, so I carried her to the bedroom and gently set her on the bed – where she immediately looked up at me, tilting her head (neck pain, poor thing), pleading with me about…?

“I’m right here, Lucy,” I told her, petting her, massaging down her spine, suddenly and keenly aware of the problem:

Kelly was in another room.

Sure enough, Lucy scooted towards the end of the bed. Slowly. Looking back at me once or twice. Pausing at the edge. “Come here, Lucy,” I coaxed her, trying to give my partner a moment of peace. Time alone. Everyone needs some of that at the end of a long day. Right?

Lucy regarded me with those sad, now slightly agitated eyes, and we sat in silence, me with my hand out and she with her eyes fixed firmly on the floor. I knew what was coming. The house would be quieter if I just brought her to Kelly. I knew it. She knew it.

One bark. Two barks. I was no Dog Whisperer.

“Come HERE,” I said to her now – quietly so as not to wake Miss E, but loudly enough for her to hear (aging ears, you know). More than eleven years together under the same roof and it’s still Kelly she wants. Only Kelly. Always Kelly. Unless we’re all sleeping. No, then she’ll push her whole dachshund body up against mine until finally I wake at the edge of the bed, one leg out from under the blankets. She wants me then.

But now, she was sitting upright at the end of the bed. Sitting tall for a dachshund. (And by now, even a cat person would know what she wanted.)

Still, I didn’t lift her down, so after two or three or seven hundred minutes, she deigned to join me at the head of the bed, turned her backside to me and burrowed under the blankets, letting out a deep, deep, deep sigh.

Or maybe that was me sighing. I’m not sure.

When Kelly returned to the bedroom and observed me sitting in the bed reading with that lump of Lucy blankets next to my knee, she smiled. I wanted to smile back. I did. I knew how idyllic we looked, right out of “The Walton’s” or “Little House on the Prairie” or something. (Did any of them have dogs?)

“She wanted you,” I said instead, mad now that eleven years meant nothing to our dog.

“I know. I heard her,” Kelly replied. And just like that, the idyllic moment passed. I popped it like a bubble.

Because while it is true that eventually, our dachshund did settle down, cuddle up against me, and sleep — sometimes, the glass stays half empty for awhile.

Even if, most of the time, it’s half full.

HP and the Night of the Shocking Thing

8 Feb

2013-02-03 Morning with FrankieSomething shocking happened at my house this week.

Miss E had commandeered my new (gigantic) beanbag chair, the one she and her cousins get kicked out of whenever I’m ready to plop myself down and relax, and she was watching her current favorite movie: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

She dreams about this movie. She recites entire scenes from this movie. Each day, she shares with me her most private feelings about the characters in this movie as if they are her sister and brothers, her aunts and uncles, her very best friends.  She eats, breathes, and sleeps this movie. This movie is her life. Her life is this movie.  While she’s watching, she creates a bubble which encompasses her entire body, my beanbag chair, the DSi camera she uses to snap photos during key scenes, and the television screen. She sits inside her magical force-field and nothing from the real world penetrates. Ever. Not while she’s watching Harry Potter.

Not until the night of the shocking thing.

My partner Kelly was cooking in the kitchen, chatting away – although mostly not to me – expressing her opinion on some NPR story as she clattered pots and pans, knives and cutting boards, as she chopped onions and mushrooms, sometimes humming quietly to herself.

I had just finished clearing my work bag of every last scrap of paper tossed into it since last October, and my eyes were beginning to sting in the dim light of our dining room.  I was trying valiantly to digest a McDonald’s hamburger – a treat I hadn’t indulged in for many months – and I was failing.  I pulled on my cranky pants, and hitched them up past my belly button while my family hummed.

My daughter replied to some question Harry had asked her. She conferred for a moment with Ron. She began a running banter with Hermione. I heard her disagree, then scold, then laugh, then coo over Hagrid’s many magical pets.

Then I laid down on the couch. Quietly. Without making a sound. I pulled a blanket up to my chin, turned my head towards Miss E and her precious TV, and tried to smile. Briefly smiled. I closed my eyes.

It must have been two or three minutes before either of them noticed.  When they did, Kelly called me to the table for dinner and my daughter wailed. She needed – suddenly, desperately needed – to play. With me. With me standing. She needed to play with me upright and giggling and moving around and showering her with – I don’t know – something other than this – other than this lying on the couch.

There were tears. There was anger. There were balls hurled across the room. There were stern words, repercussions, repentance.

At the end of the evening, once our girl was fast asleep finally in her bed and everyone’s feelings had been repaired somewhat, I expressed confusion over what had occurred.  Kelly replied simply, “You never rest on the couch. It was shocking.”

2013-01-27 Morning with my GirlThe next night, my darling daughter hurled herself on the living room floor, scissor-kicked her legs and declared without raising her voice, “I’m having a nervous breakdown.”

By then, I was feeling fine.

We laughed. We ate. We slept in our beds.

Not one of us has dared to stretch out on the couch, not since that night, not yet. But one of us will. I will. Again.

But next time, somehow, I’ll be prepared.

What’s the must shocking thing that happened in your house this week?

—–

Photo Credit: Kelly Sue

Lava Cake

8 Jun

Ten years ago, after frantically polling friends to find a delicious, upbeat, somewhat upscale restaurant, Kelly and I enjoyed our first date at Chilpancingo, on Chicago’s Near North Side.

I changed clothes three times that morning, anxious that I should look put-together yet not too studied, breezy for the summer sun yet warm enough for nightfall, just in case.  We sat in a corner booth, semi-private, or maybe it just felt semi-private because my whole world was her while we were there.  Conversation was easy.  My heart thumped and skipped, and at the end of our meal, we shared a lava cake.  The waiter cut into it for us, gently, and we sat completely silent together for the very first time while the lava cake did what gently sliced lava cakes do.

Afterwards, she excused herself to visit the Ladies Room and paid the bill for us both.  Tip, too.  It’s always an open question, I find, on a lesbian date:  Who pays the bill?  Do you split it?  What meaning is attached to each choice?  Do straight dating couples grapple with this, too?

My last serious relationship ended when my girlfriend filed bankruptcy and begged me for the money she needed to move in with her new love.  And while I realize that paying for one meal does not speak to a person’s overall financial health, I did feel there was real promise here, or real… possibility.

I did know a few things about her, even then.

I knew she loved to read.  On our second date, at a trendy northside coffeeshop where I had once or twice listened to a friend play guitar, she gifted me with one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read.

And I knew she had a daughter, who is a poet although none of us knew that yet.  Her daughter was eleven years old with a writer’s eye, a nose for injustice, an intolerance for phonies and an abundance of generosity.  Over time, I would pass many of her tests but not all of them.

Kelly also had a motorcycle.  Have you ever ridden on the back of a motorcycle, over a bridge and around corners, holding tight to the woman you love?

I have.

When Kelly’s daughter was thirteen, we sat together in another upscale restaurant, the three of us, much closer to home, in a private room (truly), and recounted for twelve of our closest friends the story of sitting on our back deck in pajamas over coffee that same morning, making promises and declarations and exchanging matching diamond rings.  “I promise to make you laugh every day,” Kelly said to me in the post-dawn autumn air, six days before adopting our youngest daughter.

Shotgun Ring Exchange, we called it then.  Still do.

Our friends enjoyed the story, snapped pictures, poured champagne, and during the toasts, my new stepdaughter shared that I often helped her with math.  She was lively and funny at home but didn’t speak out much in groups so she warmed my heart doubly when she did.

Raising a child can be tricky.  Two steps forward, one step back, we sought our co-parenting legs.  She had been a single parent for a long time, and I had my own worries about the whole mom thing.

But love pulled us through.  Love for our newest daughter, love for our eldest — no longer an only child — love for each other, love for the life of our new family.  We managed.  We grew closer.  And within nine months, we were on a plane to London, where the four of us stayed for a whole year.

The baby now is eight years old, and we are back in Illinois.  Our family consists of four humans, two dogs, two cats, a world of aunties, and parents and siblings who live too far away.

Our eldest is spending this summer in her college town.  Her cousin moved in with her last week.  They’re earning summer paychecks by taking petitions and pitches door-to-door for a worthy cause every weekday afternoon, every weekday evening.  It’s rough work, requiring sensible shoes.

Our youngest is spending this week at Camp Grandma.  When we spoke to her 36 hours into the trip, she was finishing an ice cream bar and learning to putt.  With a golf putter in her grandparents’ backyard.

Kelly and I are enjoying time alone.  We’ve enjoyed a French art house film, two delicious dinners out with good friends, chocolate martinis, and good bourbon.  We even sat at home happily one night in front of some crap TV.

Ten years ago today, a waiter made the first gentle slice into our shared lava cake and it tasted so good.

Still does, every bit.

Happy Anniversary, Mi Amor!

Photo discovered on Galaxy Desserts 

The Fit

16 Dec on the floor 2007

This week, my daughter threw a fit.  She threw several, actually, but here’s the one I’ll share:

It’s seven o’clock.  My partner, my daughter and I are leaving a party hosted by a close family friend.  My daughter has a skip in her step as the front door closes.  She has spent hours playing with cousins, running around, making up skits and developing costumes, learning new jokes, braiding hair, and practicing a solstice ritual in a large circle with candles and wind and earth and water.  She scans the street for one of our cars and suddenly turns on us both fiercely, accusingly, both eyebrows tilted sternly down.  “We’re walking?!?” she asks, clearly disgusted by the idea.

“Yes,” I say brightly.

“I Don’t Want To!”  She growls at me.

“It’s two blocks away,” I say to her, trying to tease her out of the fit she’s about to throw.  I hear her blood boil.

“You’re mean!” Is it because she knows what I’m up to?  Does she know I’m trying to keep her from getting mad?  I see red splotches on her cheeks, even in the dark.

Suddenly, she hurls her doll to the sidewalk — the 18″ not-quite-American-Girl-Doll who she tucks under blankets every night by her bed and who she must dress each day in an outfit appropriate for the weather.  She hurls this doll to the sidewalk.  Head-first.

My partner says the first thing that comes to mind.  “I hope she doesn’t have a permanent dent in her head.”

“What?!???!!!!”  Our seven-year-old runs forward as if to catch her mom by the arm, and then stops.  She refuses to move any further.  I glance at the doll.

“You might want to pick her up,” I recommend.  She scowls at me, makes some kind of guttural noise and picks her up. Now is when the real games begin.

“I hate you,” she tells me for the first time ever in our lives together.  I am a person whose feelings show like a movie on my face but I am trying desperately to keep still.  “I hate you, I hate you, I HATE YOU,” she continues, growing louder.  “I don’t ever want to touch you again.  You disgust me.”  I say nothing, not wanting to fuel the fire, not knowing what to say.  Where is this coming from?

I glance at her and continue walking, slowing my pace briefly so she will catch up to me at the crosswalk.  She turns away from me haughtily to check for oncoming traffic, and steps off the curb.  I am proud of her checking for cars in the middle of a blood-boiling fit, but I am hurt and angry, too.  “Don’t talk to me.  I don’t want to be with you ever again.  Never.  I hate you!”  Still, I am still silent.  She goes on and on and on, jerking her arms around as if to either make a point or fly away.

“Stop,” my partner finally commands.  “I don’t want you to say something more that you’ll regret later, when you’re feeling better.”  Really?  Our daughter mumbles something under her breath which neither of us can understand.

A minute passes and we are nearly home.  I put my hand on my daughter’s shoulder, thinking the storm has passed. She recoils immediately and runs ahead. “What are you doing?” she asks, mad but no longer out-of-control.

“I’m loving you,” I tell her quietly.

“You’re not supposed to love me.  You’re supposed to hate me.”  I see.

“Honey, I never hate you.  I love you all the time.”

“Don’t.”  That’s been the trouble all along, hasn’t it?  But why?

“I do, though, Honey.  I always love you.”  I am not pleading.  I am simply stating a fact.  I really want to know why she’s hurting, but I don’t ask.  I did earlier, and she told me it was because I was mean. I’ll ask again later, when she’s calm.

The rest of our evening is up and down, but eventually I tuck her into bed and we utter the same quiet loving phrases we utter every night with the lights out and quiet all around.  My partner, her Mama, comes in and gives her a kiss.  Eventually, she falls asleep and so do we.  It is just one evening.

And one long walk home.

Generosity and Gratitude

25 Nov

Thank you for traveling with me on this journey through queer parenting, step-parenting, adoptive parenting, simply parenting through everyday struggles to find a common ground on which to raise a child.  Thank you for your friendship, online and off, as we figure out what works and what doesn’t, blowing off steam along the way.  Thank you for your words.  Thank you for reading mine.

How was your Thanksgiving?  How was the family?  Did you spend the holiday with friends?

For me, Thanksgiving is about generosity and gratitude – “the two G’s,” as my friend put it yesterday while roasting pine nuts for the spinach salad.

How can I be generous? For what am I grateful?  Asking these questions puts me in the spirit of openness.  Anything else the day may hold then is … gravy.

But today is the day after Thanksgiving, and for that reason alone, I am keeping this short, although it may also be true that I:

  1. Slept in this morning, and only have 15 minutes to write this before the arbitrary 7:15 a.m. deadline I’ve set for myself
  2. Dreamt all night of turkey, remembering my daughter next to me during Thanksgiving Dinner, flapping her arms and asking for “more chicken” after two years without meat in our kitchen
  3. Still need to pick-up after last night’s pie, bourbon and debauchery
  4. Woke up early to the sound of cartoons in our living room, couldn’t fall back asleep, and now I’m grumpy so I can’t write
  5. Don’t plan to change out of my pajamas all day long (What does this have to do with keeping it short? I don’t know.)
  6. Got up at the crack of dawn for Black Friday shopping in a neighboring suburb and now I’m typing this on my Android
  7. Discovered late last night that the dog ate my blog notes

Take your pick.  Some of this is actually true.

So … what are you up to today?  No, really – what are you doing right now?  Or thirty minutes from now when you’re done surfing the internet?  (Do people still say that, or is there a new slang for wandering around online?)

Come by later if you want some pie.  I plan to have some for breakfast, but there’s plenty more.

Making Music

11 Nov

Before we brought my daughter home from Guatemala, but after we had received referral pictures of her at three days old, my partner and I went to the Printer’s Row Book Fair – one of my favorite festivals in Chicago.  My goal, besides finding beautifully old books, rich with story and perfectly absorbing sentences, was to find books for the baby.  I wanted plastic books for gnawing and board books for her curious toddler years.  I had no idea then how my life and our daily rhythms would change when she came home.

Before parenting, I always packed my days full of somehow worldly purpose.  Two or three nights a week and most weekends, I attended meetings, managed projects, or practiced plays for performing onstage.

On the weekends, I also slept in, baffled when my partner would wake at 7:00 a.m. claiming she couldn’t sleep any later.  Bursting with energy and good humor, she’d throw on some clothes, head downstairs, and right-away make coffee.  I usually stayed in bed so long I had to turn the coffeepot back on to begin my morning – or make a whole fresh pot!  Usually, my partner was showered and dressed and well into her day’s projects by the time I made it downstairs – rearranging furniture, mowing the lawn, or maybe she’d been to the grocery store and back already.  Sometimes, she’d make me eggs, or walk in the front door with Dunkin’ Donuts French Vanilla coffee for me, or a Boston cream donut, before I even knew she’d been gone.  I would smile brightly, not speaking.  Not yet.  Speaking for me came later in the morning, after I’d had some coffee, after I’d sat in a chair briefly with a book or just my thoughts, and steamed myself awake, the aroma of coffee encircling my face.  Slowly, my muscles would unclench and I would stretch out into my day, warm, newly open.  Now, I awaken differently.

On the weekdays then, I barely uttered four sentences before arriving at work.  My voice was sometimes still froggy when I arrived at the office, so colleagues would tease me, asking if I’d had a late night.  Often I had, although not for the reasons they insinuated.  I’m a night owl by nature.  I am not now, nor have I ever been, a morning person.  Parenting a young child has become a whole new dance for me.

Even on those rare pre-parent occasions when I did manage to climb into bed before 11:00 p.m., I still eased into the morning slowly and came alive truly at night.  You want to schedule an evening meeting to discuss the eradication of racism within the LGBTQ community?  Sign me up!  A weekend workshop to practice the words of children telling their own stories for the stage?  I’m there!  An after-hours performance in the dim basement of a coffeeshop?  Whether I was on the stage or in the audience, my answer forever had been:  Yes, please!

My partner has a different rhythm.  Hers changed less than mine when our daughter came home.  Of course, she’d spent her entire adult life raising a child, and grew into herself synching her rhythm to the needs of her family – which for thirteen years primarily meant her daughter and herself.  But there is something powerfully internal about her pacing, too.

My partner watches television nearly every night.  Then she bounds out of bed – still – every morning, full of ideas and excitement.  When she came home from a recent road trip, I meant it when I told her, “You fill the house with happy!”  Even if sometimes her happy is a bit early in the day for me.  She makes big plans with me in the morning as I stare, bleary-eyed, over my first steaming mug of coffee while our now-seven-year-old dances around the room on a Hogwarts broom, deeming us each characters – hybrid characters, based on the Harry Potter series but with dogs and powers uniquely identified and practiced by our daughter.  She imbues herself, and sometimes us, with fast-flying powers, invisibility powers, always-being-right powers, and evil naughty powers.  (As in, “They made me do it!  My powers.  I can’t turn them good.”)  I’ve learned over time not to use my powers in any way that might cause her to lose a race, an argument or a battle because then she will always – invariably – take them away.

But my partner makes big plans in the morning with everyone.  It’s when her brain works best.  We discuss family visits, vacation destinations, big purchases like a cottage or a car or a new beanbag chair in the morning.  I have learned to adapt.  Sometimes.

My brain, on the other hand, works best at night.  I’ve tried to engage my partner in many sticky conversations at night.  She can tell you!  Typically around 10 p.m. I’ll introduce a discussion about us, our family, our relationship, our children, about a new writing project, a new colleague, or a new direction for my life.  She listens as best she can, but with or without warning, invariably after ten minutes, she falls asleep.  I can’t take offense.  I mean: I could, and I did for a long, long time, but it’s just how her brain is wired, and how my brain is wired, and at the beginning and end of each day, our pacing is simply out of synch.

Over nearly ten years of being together, we have learned to adapt.  Truly.  She has been known in recent years to sip coffee, still wearing her pajamas as late at 9:00 a.m.  And I have been known to go to bed at 10:00 p.m.

This trip to the Printer’s Row Book Fair was before these changes, though, when I still burnt the midnight oil and she still woke up on weekdays at 5:00 a.m. for the trek to a corporate job in Naperville.  We cherished this day in the sunlight surrounded by books.  She’d wander ahead.  I’d lag behind.  I’d become so immersed in a book that I’d turn page after page while she zipped up and down two aisles of books.  We found books for ourselves, and books for our lovely daughter – the beautiful baby in the picture with chubby cheeks and dark features, with just the faintest dusting of deep black hair – but the book which has stayed with us, with paper pages and illustrations you can get lost in, which we didn’t introduce to our daughter for three more years, was City Rhythms by Ann Grifalconi.  Published in 1965, it tells the story of a young boy growing up in New York City.

Our daughter still loves this book.  It’s one of the few she’s kept from her pre-reading days.

“Listen,” says the young boy’s dad.  The city has a rhythm all its own.  You can hear it if you listen.  (I can’t share the exact quote because our daughter now seven years later has taken it into some domestic cave and despite my reading every title on every shelf, peeking under furniture and rummaging around in the back of both our closets as she was falling asleep, I have not been able to find it.  And yet – I saw it earlier this week, laying on a precious pile of artwork and books with bookmarks thrust inside.)

But I do.  I hear it.  Our family has a rhythm, too – the mood varies, the tone, the style – but every day, every morning, every night, if I listen, I can hear our family has a rhythm all its own.  We’ve been making this music for a long, long time and the truth is, every day, quiet and loud, patient or proud, downcast, outcast, first or last to wake and thump my heels on the floor:  I love this song.

Not a Morning Person

7 Oct

photo by kelly fondow

I used to be a night person.  Not a morning person.  I used to sleep in ’til noon if I had nowhere to be.

Now, although I haven’t used an alarm clock since becoming a mom, I am always the first person in my family to wake up.  Strange truth.  Groggily and grumbling, I head directly to the shower.  My daughter soon enters the bathroom, and dawdles through her morning routine with a few reminders from behind the shower curtain to put the bath toys back in their basket, to leave her book outside the bathroom, to continue putting toothpaste on her toothbrush, to stop talking for a moment to remember what she’s doing.  My partner will often wake, shower, dress, and make it downstairs before I have selected a pair of socks.  I don’t understand it.  Really.  Is it my pacing or my daughter’s?  After seven years of parenting her, it’s hard to tell the difference.  Is that a boundary issue?  Don’t answer that.

So… when my partner suggested hitting the Bourbon Trail this week with a mutual friend, it’s our morning routine that concerned me.  What would we do without Mama?

“Should be an interesting morning with our short order cook on the road,” I texted my friend on Day One. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” she replied.

Over the past few years, my little girl has grown accustomed to my company while she’s dressing, and my partner’s breakfast-making prowess once she makes her way downstairs.  With Mama out of town, she couldn’t have both.  Which would it be?  Would I feed my daughter, or chat with her in the bathroom?  Hard to say.  Typically, I get downstairs about ten minutes before the walk to school.  If there’s time after hair-brushing, vitamin-piling, bag-packing and so forth, I eat breakfast.  If there’s not time, I have a stash of granola bars in my desk at work — except that I bought some on Monday with a bag of new Halloween spiderweb cotton, and they never made it to my office — which I remembered when my friend came for dinner on Tuesday and discovered a granola bar, still wrapped and sealed, but crumbled inside its package in the middle of our bedroom rug.  I blame the cats.  Our dogs would have ripped open the wrapper.  The rest of the box is still missing.  I can’t remember where I set it down.

While my partner was planning her roadtrip, I relished the idea of some bonding time with the little pipsqueak.  I wanted to fall into the rhythm only she and I together find.  Maybe I’m missing those toddler years, where everything is new, every day bursting with new discoveries – a toe! a lampshade! cats have claws oh no!  music! drums! Mami’s necklace!  Or maybe I’m missing the days I walked my daughter to the corner grocery for a day trip, packing snacks for the journey and allowing her to stop for every leaf, insect, flower petal or blade of grass.

Instead, it’s a school week still, and a work week still, and the bell rings the same time each day. There are still twenty minutes of reading each night, math fact practice, worksheets and spelling exercises.  Lunch-making. Coffee-preparing. School Picture Day. AND we have our house on the market with a crackerjack plan to downsize into a smaller suburban home and buy a vacation cottage before next summer.  A summer paradise, a winter writing retreat, a springtime getaway, a place to dance in the leaves each fall. I remind myself this like a mantra.  I’m trying to keep the house not-too-far from spotless, just in case we get another showing.  It’s not too hard.

But on Day Three, when she sent me photos of a beautiful stone wall and wooden bourbon barrels from Kentucky, I responded with a bright red fire hydrant from Oak Park.  She told me with a smirk through the phone, “Honey, I think you’re acting out.”  Really?  You think so?

Then she scheduled me for a spa day this weekend.  A spa day. With a massage, and a friend of my own.  And wine.

She doesn’t miss a beat.  Thank you, Honey.  I love you.  And I’m glad you’re home!

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