You may have felt like I’ve kind of been half-assing it ’round here the last few weeks. (Alternatively, you may find it hilarious that I think you care that much. If you fall into this latter category, just skip ahead to the next paragraph.) Confession: I’ve been half-assing it here for the last few weeks. My heart and mind has been elsewhere, and some of the distraction has been emotional, but a lot of it has been logistical. There was just a lot to be done in a fairly short period of time, and I put my head down and tried to power through it, even while fighting back the fears that it wouldn’t work or it would work but there would be anger and unhappiness.
I’m pretty good with a mission, really. Give me a checklist and I’m a machine. Finish decluttering the house, CHECK. Contact the school, meet with the school, CHECK. Enroll with a new doctor, CHECK. Request records, CHECK. Gather an army, CHECK. Get advice, give updates, take a deep breath, CHECK CHECK CHECK.
Chickadee was supposed to come home for her school break on Friday. And she both did and didn’t.
She came home, but not for break. She’s home and she’s staying.
The story of how it all came to be and ultimately went down is… well, it’s messy. And not mine, in many ways. All I can say is that when she left in October I told her that I knew she could do it, I knew she would be fine and I would miss her terribly and it would be good for her even if it was hard. And there were many times when she begged to come home before June, and many times when I said no, my stomach twisting into a knot while I said it. I wanted us all to see it through to the end of the school year. It would be tidy, that way.
Eventually it became clear that insisting on tidy order when life remains messy isn’t always the best course of action. Sometimes plans have to change.
So that’s where we found ourselves, and it wasn’t ideal—hey, how about you switch schools again, kid? Leave your new friends? Have yet another upheaval?—but it was what needed to happen. The Committee Of Parental Units (motto: Now With Bonus Additional Dad-like Guy!) convened and the decision was made and Chickadee didn’t get a vote. In fact, she didn’t even know about it until everything was a done deal.
We braced for the storm. I wouldn’t have blamed her one bit; change is hard and she’s had more than her fair share in the last year and a half. She’s made a ton of progress and is in a much better place than she was when she left, but to have this curveball lobbed into her life could ruin everything. (Of course, we had our reasons for deciding that staying wasn’t a good option, either, but would she see it that way? We didn’t know.)
I paced the house, Friday, waiting for her to arrive. Up the stairs, down the stairs. In circles around my office. I was nervous. I couldn’t wait to see her. I was worried she wouldn’t want to be here. I paced some more. On a whim I grabbed a piece of pink paper from the kids’ craft stash and wrote her a note. I tucked it into her bed, between the pillows, figuring that if she ran up to her room in a huff, at least there would be that.
Traffic was horrendous and the wait stretched on and on, and finally they were here. And she was home. My sweet girl was home. And… she was happy. Dawning realization about what it all meant gave way not to the anger I’d feared, but relief. We all exhaled and in a single moment I was flooded with gratitude that yes, I would’ve weathered whatever was necessary for this moment, but for once—finally—it was really all okay. It was simple, in the end. Easy. Because it was right.
By the time she finally made it up to her room, I came in just in time to see her hanging my note on her wall. “Is it okay?” I asked, nodding towards the paper.
“No,” she said. “I hate it. That’s why I’m hanging it here, so I can make fun of it!” We smiled at each other, and then I found something to do so that she wouldn’t see the tears in my eyes.
The weekend was a series of unremarkable and yet amazing moments that left me dizzy. A trip to a school event where her friends were on Saturday led to shrieking and hugging and “COME PLAY WITH US, YOU CAN BE ON OUR TEAM,” and my eventual dismissal from the scene. Later I played chauffeur, the gaggle of girls coming over to the house for a while, and later, out for ice cream, because why not? On Sunday we went for groceries, cooked some favorite foods, snuggled on the couch and watched TV, and welcomed home our favorite boys when they came home for dinner. We ate together, us four, passing food and terrible jokes around the table, all of us there where we belonged, the chaos causing Otto and I to grin at each other over the tops of our tacos, unable to contain our glee.
After dinner, Chickadee helped with the dishes without me even having to ask. Later, the kids and I played a card game (Zombie Fluxx is perfect for family bonding, it turns out) until we were laughing so hard that Otto shouted up the stairs, “Everything okay up there?”
This morning Chickie is headed off to school to finish registration and get the lay of the land, fortified by the granola we made yesterday and the fact that Monkey came careening down the stairs this morning in his Dark Knight mask, declaring that (what else?) he was Batman. There was a minor skirmish in which I had to remind him that it’s all fun and games until Batman accidentally pokes out someone’s eye with his pointy ears, but it all worked out.
Change is hard and life back here is not going to be without challenges. But we are together. We are ready. We are whole.
Insert the exhale that follows four months of holding my breath right here. (God, that feels better.) Confetti, rainbows, and glittery unicorns are optional, but highly recommended.