So, as many of you know, over the holidays Daddy came home! He’d left for his job in January 2010 and had come home once for ten days in March. From then until Christmas, it was just us three making the space our own.
In his absence, his man-cave was reclaimed as a garage and all the belongings it had held were transferred to the dungeon (the basement). We had come up with a rhythm for our day and existence without him but we had great expectations of how our visit would go with our family complete for the holidays.
Shortly after arriving, Daddy laid down to rest after the early flight and was promptly curled up into by a small boy who’d missed him dearly.
But there is where our expectations digressed from reality. Shortly thereafter Daddy was laid up by tooth pain. As that subsided, the flu took hold and kept him down and miserable for about a week without ever releasing him from it completely. He’s still working it out of his system. With our plans and hopes so abruptly changed and no room for fault, we solemnly went about our trips to the library and household chores trying to stay busy and chipper, hoping that maybe tomorrow would be a day together.
Gratefully by Christmas Day, we could all be together, including Gee in from Dallas, around the tree early in the morning. This was my first storybook Christmas…at home, with the family, waking up and running downstairs to see the tree and presents, excitedly passing packages around. Watching our presents being unwrapped by loved ones, and not realizing our breath is sucked in waiting to see how they’ll be received.
Indeed. Surprisingly, it was the smallest, last-minute gift Daddy went out to get “from the Littlest” that gave us this moment. But somehow for the kids, the magic culminated in this moment that had been given through the wonder, the months of songs we’d sung, watching Frosty the Snowman until we knew it by heart, the presence of our whole family again in our home, the anticipation.
And as Daddy began to join us again, it took hard work I hadn’t known we’d need. People often tell me they have no idea how they’d stay sane parenting their children without their partner. For reasons I’ve mentioned before I choose to maintain a positive and can-do attitude at my best, but the by-product of doing so is that I am in charge of my universe here, and he is in charge of his far away. Going from vision-developing speed to toddler speed is a major adjustment. Going from having the run of the house to tip-toeing around a sick Daddy who you want to be near so badly it distracts your entire day is a major adjustment.
We worked hard on it. It was emotionally exhausting and far more challenging than I thought it would be. In a week, we had to completely re-learn how to be a family again.
But, we made it. With four days to go, we cleared through the final foggy patch and the sailing was blissful.
The kids melted into our new-found rhythm, soaking up all the good energy and settling into peace.
With a bit of determination, we get there.
It’s odd to consider that with enough practice and necessity we get to a point where life functions without the whole. Doing this out of necessity for a long time eventually fades the memory of fully remembering how much you truly miss and love someone, how much their presence brings joy and fullness to your life…until you get to have them back and have to watch them go again…