Life is messy and wonderful

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.

100 Responses to “Life is messy and wonderful”

  1. 1
    Kristin February 25, 2013 at 8:33 am #

    Wow. Life is messy, I tell ya. I’m on the verge of pulling my 4th grader and Kindergartener for homeschooling. My initial thought, like you, “let’s get through this school year and then decide.” I find myself today thinking “what the hell, maybe today.” I think our mottos should be “embrace the chaos instead of fighting it.” You know, the whole go with the flow thing.

    You have your baby back. Yay!

  2. 2
    Mom24_4evermom February 25, 2013 at 8:34 am #

    So happy for you. Thanks for sharing this. You all will be in my thoughts and in my prayers. Love the note!

  3. 3
    StephLove February 25, 2013 at 8:41 am #

    I’m sorry the original plan didn’t work out but happy she’s home and that so far it seems like a smooth transition.

  4. 4
    Damsel February 25, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    You got your baby back, baby back, baby back (riiiiiiiiiibs.)!!!!!!!!! Couldn’t resist! Not even sorry.

  5. 5
    Kristi February 25, 2013 at 8:45 am #

    Hoping this roller coaster is coming to an easy stop for you all, and that it is letting you off in Utopia.

  6. 6
    jodifur February 25, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    Oh Mir…..I want to hug you and cry and laugh all at the same time. Your last so many months have been so, so, so hard and to have this end here is unbelievable.

  7. 7
    Em February 25, 2013 at 8:47 am #

    I’m never as content as when all of my chickies are in the nest (sleeping preferably) and I haven’t even been through what you’ve been through. That must be the best exhale of your life. Wishing you strength for the challenges ahead and most of all peace.

  8. 8
    Mame February 25, 2013 at 8:50 am #

    Finish decluttering the house, Check. Wow! My current project and it’s going so slowly! Not my strength.

  9. 9
    el-e-e February 25, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    Oh, this is nice news. Glad for you!

  10. 10
    Navhelowife February 25, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    Sending you love, grace, peace and joy – and strength.
    You are on an amazing journey – and you all are showing such grace and courage throughout. Even on the days that you think you aren’t!

  11. 11
    Asha Dornfest February 25, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    HOORAYYYYYYY! That note was so, so lovely and I am so very happy for this moment. (Also, we love Zombie Fluxx.) UUNNNNNNGH.

  12. 12
    Brooke February 25, 2013 at 8:56 am #


    Thanks for letting us smile with you today!
    BTW: I have missed regular entertainment from your corner of the world.

  13. 13
    Nancy R February 25, 2013 at 8:57 am #

    Hooray for OKAY!

  14. 14
    Laura February 25, 2013 at 8:59 am #

    That makes MY week – I can’t even imagine which cloud you are walking around on today!

  15. 15
    ememby February 25, 2013 at 9:00 am #

    Happy day! So glad you guys have each other and so glad Chickadee is back home!

  16. 16
    KGP February 25, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    If ever there was an excuse for phoning it in at work, getting your girl back home would be among the most legitimate reasons. So glad that you’re all enjoying one another again!

  17. 17
    Holly February 25, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    2012. A year that will live in infamy.

    Thank god that’s over!

  18. 18
    Chuck February 25, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    Congratulations! I know it won’t all be easy times ahead but it sounds like the hardest part may be over. Best wishes to all of you.

  19. 19
    Brenda February 25, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    I’m SO happy for you that Chickadee is back to stay, and I’m so glad that the transition thus far has carried fewer bumps than anticipated. Here’s hoping that any bumps yet to come are speed bumps rather than gigantic, tire-popping potholes!

  20. 20
    Aimee February 25, 2013 at 9:17 am #

    There’s a package of sparkly rainbow unicorns in the mail to you. Okay, well, not really because where do you get those, anyway? The lack of SRUs notwithstanding, I am so happy and relieved for you. And for reasons which I know you understand, I love your note for Chickadee and it made me cry. {{{{{hugs}}}}}

  21. 21
    Djurdjica February 25, 2013 at 9:22 am #

    Hooray, Chickadee is back!!! :) That is awesome news, I’m very glad for you guys! Also, I hadn’t noticed any slacking on here, your posts were just as cool as ever. :)

  22. 22
    Marissa February 25, 2013 at 9:24 am #

    So unbelievably happy for all of you!!!! Rejoicing at the light at the end of your long tunnel getting closer and closer!!!!!

    (Ok that was little too cliche, but still sooooo soooo exicted to read this!)

  23. 23
    Megan February 25, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    Fantastic, beautiful news. And the one good thing you can say about all the bad is that it makes the good so very welcome and glorious when it comes.

    Welcome home Chickadee!

  24. 24
    Sheila February 25, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    I am so happy for all of you. Hooray for homecomings!

  25. 25
    Cheyenna February 25, 2013 at 9:49 am #

    Welcome home, Chickie!

  26. 26
    Amy-Go February 25, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    Here’s to new beginnings! Blessings and love to all of you.

  27. 27
    Amelia February 25, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    WAAAAAH! I’m so glad to hear that all is well for today (and really, that’s all we’ve got, isn’t it?) And further, I’m glad you were able to hang on to your priorities…I’m thinking all your readers have loved ones and hope to be as wise when the going gets tough as you’ve been. Peace all over y’all!

  28. 28
    Jen February 25, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    Wow. 2013 indeed…

  29. 29
    js February 25, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    I had to go back and read this over again. You were so calm and non-chalant about the whole thing, I almost missed the fantastic news. I have so much hope for you and your family. Don’t stop writing. This is not the end of the story. This is just a part of the amazing journey. I think you guys are awesome.

  30. 30
    RuthWells February 25, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    Exhaling so goddamned hard for you all. Xo

  31. 31
    TC February 25, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    Excellent. That is all.

  32. 32
    Kelly February 25, 2013 at 10:20 am #

    Happy tears. Rainbows and unicorns for everyone!

  33. 33
    Karen R February 25, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    Wonderful! May the ups continue to outweigh the downs.

  34. 34
    Corey February 25, 2013 at 10:30 am #


  35. 35
    Crickett February 25, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    I have to say, I must have been unconsciously holding my breath along side of you, because I exhaled and relaxed a little on your behalf at your news. I know it’s not over yet, there will be ups and downs, as there always are, but hopefully the downs won’t be quite so down. Big smiles and hugs all around!

  36. 36
    Korinthia Klein February 25, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    Everyone should have a note like that. So glad your daughter is home.

  37. 37
    mandy February 25, 2013 at 10:58 am #


    <3 <3 <3

  38. 38
    Alicia February 25, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    So excited for all of you, and for thinking about what your child NEEDS right now. Big hugs to all of you and prayers as you find another new “normal”.

  39. 39
    Lily February 25, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    So glad you have Chickadee back! Enjoy!!!

  40. 40
    wendy February 25, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    Yay Mir! Yay Chickdee! Yay messy life! I knew she’d be back…I knew you’d all make it! Big Hugs to everyone!

  41. 41
    Wendy February 25, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    Great news for a Monday morning. So glad to hear that Chickadee is home.

  42. 42
    Kim February 25, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    Oh, Mir!

  43. 43
    NTE February 25, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    Welcome home Chickie, you were missed. Hoping for some smooth sailing for all of you

  44. 44
    Anna February 25, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

    Wait, wait. I’m really confused. Chickadee is now living with you (and homeschooling?) The parental units are… how many people? Three? Four?

    All in all, just as much as she’s had to learn to be strong, you have, too. May you channel your new-found strength, but maybe not need it so much.

  45. 45
    Sassy Apple February 25, 2013 at 12:10 pm #


  46. 46
    sharon February 25, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    I noticed you were gone a bit and hoped that everything was ok. Sounds like you handled everything fine, as usual!

  47. 47
    Michelle February 25, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    This just made my heart so so happy. Welcome home, Chickie!

  48. 48
    Sharon February 25, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    All good thoughts for all of you ~

  49. 49
    mamaspeak February 25, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    You were phoning it in? I was phoning it in too? Who the back have we been calling then????
    I’m glad to hear she’s back. I know it was hard, but I suspect, when she’s grown, she will look back on this time & realize how incredibly hard this was for you too. And that you loved her enough to make the hard choices for her. She knows it now, but she’s a teen, so yeah. (((Hugs))) It’s still gonna be hard sometimes, but you all need to look at that note when it is.

  50. 50
    Chris February 25, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    So so happy for you!!! I know you will still have challenges but you let her go and she came back (and I truly believe it was for the best).

    Welcome back Chickie! (and Mir, while I might have noticed we had heard a little less from you, I had been assuming it was family related which always does have to come before your internets :) )

    Absolute great news – I am smiling for your whole family.

  51. 51
    Karen February 25, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    I’ve been wondering. Good thing you moved south, that’s where Steel Magnolia’s do best, I hear. You, Otto, your kids, even your ex, all amazing. More work ahead (isn’t there always?), but talk about pulling together, my head spins to think of it. Nice job Mir-family.

  52. 52
    Janet February 25, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

    What fantastic news for you and your family! I hope all goes well for you and Chickadee.

  53. 53
    Gennie February 25, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

    So, so, so happy for you all! I can’t even begin to imagine the relief and joy you must feel at the simple pleasures of having her home.

  54. 54
    Valerie February 25, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    This just makes my day. :)

  55. 55
    Melissa February 25, 2013 at 1:17 pm #


  56. 56
    Katherine February 25, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

    I’m glad to hear that Chickie is happy with being home and that all the parental units decided that was best. I imagine she will wish she could have said her goodbyes to new friends there, but at least there is email. And presumably she can visit with friends when she visits her dad.

    I hope that all your big bumps are done and that you will have only small speed bumps to navigate. Welcome home Chickie!

  57. 57
    Katie K. February 25, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

    I hope the reasons that bring her home are not unhappy ones. Glad you had a nice, much deserved weekend and hope things continue to go well.

  58. 58
    Alice February 25, 2013 at 1:21 pm #


    I know that this isn’t the end of hard work, and that it’s part of a big, complicated process. But since I know you’ll all be able to push through those pieces when they come, I’m going to focus on the now.

    And the now is yaaaaaay!

  59. 59
    Jenne February 25, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

    Welcome home Chickie! Much confetti, rainbows, and glittery unicorn celebrating going on here. Sending love…

  60. 60
    Brigitte February 25, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

    Yay! A good away-from-mom vacation was maybe just what she (and probably every teenage girl) needed. She just can’t have any more though, too stressful!

  61. 61
    Mary Barnmaven Peret February 25, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    Whew. Plan for the worst and hope for the best = always a good plan. I’m glad this worked out so well.

  62. 62
    J from Ireland February 25, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

    Aw, I’m so happy you have your girl back. I bet monkey is thrilled too. Best wishes to you all.

  63. 63
    Tracy B February 25, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

    My heart skipped a beat and then the pink note…and now tears…of joy, of course! I am soooo happy, happy, happy for you. For Chickie. For Otto. For Monkey. And even Licroice! YAY! Together again!

  64. 64
    Lori N February 25, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    I’m stealing your note to your daughter & making it for my own. Thanks for encapsulating everything I was trying to tell her yesterday.

  65. 65
    kapgaf February 25, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    Chickie home, happy family, Zombie Fluxx and he is Batman. Sounds excellent to me. You have all the love you need to handle, help or whatever needs to be done. And you’re pretty!

  66. 66
    suburbancorrespondent February 25, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    That’s awesome! It’s really helpful that she seems to realize you are all on the same team.

  67. 67
    CuriousCat February 25, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

    Welcome home, Chickie!!

  68. 68
    Frank February 25, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

    You mean it wasnt the bitter cold and feet of snow that drove her away from the Northeast?

    And Fluxx somehow seems appropriate for your family to play and enjoy!

    Welcome back Chickie!

  69. 69
    Jen February 25, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

    Rainbow-farting unicorns all around. :) I’m so happy for all of you, and so hopeful for Chickie.

  70. 70
    Pam February 25, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

    OMG, I’m so happy for all of you! I’ve been one of the people who have been worrying about you half assing it LOL…… you are my friend that I can turn to everyday for all sorts of stories to make me laugh, cry, smile and send prayers your way. I miss you when you are not here everyday and worry too. Thanx for sharing and I’ll keep sending the prayers and pixie dust. :-)

  71. 71
    karen February 25, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    Welcome Home Chickee~~~ A guest post, please, when you’re ready.

  72. 72
    Grandma Cheryl February 25, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    Great idea, Karen.

    Welcome home, Chickie. You are much loved.

  73. 73
    KateB February 25, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

    HOORAY!!!!!! Welcome home, Chickadee! Mir, you half ass it for as long as you need to, okay? Take care.

  74. 74
    Crista February 25, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

    Wow! You had me teary from the words “She’s home. And she’s staying.”
    Your baby is home! Awesomeness!!
    Here’s to a smooth transition for all of you.

  75. 75
    Heather February 25, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    Welcome home, Chickadee! Much love to the family as you weather another (happy) transition.

  76. 76
    liv February 25, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    welcome home, chickadee! :) enjoy your full nest, mir. ;)

  77. 77
    Jeanie February 25, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

    I’m so glad that everything went smoothly for all of you. Welcome home, Chickie!

  78. 78
    Stephanie Stenner February 25, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

    I’m happy for you and your family and I know that you will weather any storm that comes your way. For now…ENJOY!!!!! :)

  79. 79
    angela s February 25, 2013 at 6:58 pm #

    Welcome home sweet girl!

  80. 80
    Jessica R. February 25, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    Can you please write me that exact same note so I can hang it on my wall too? So I can… ugh.. make fun of it. Yeah! That’s it!

    There are no words for how happy I am for you guys. No words for how awed I am by your strength and your ability to put what’s right for your child before your pride and your own feelings. You inspire me to be a better parent daily.

  81. 81
    Midj February 25, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    I held my breath through most of this post. <> Love you, Mir. Remember we’re always here on the other end of the Internet, having your back. Hugs all around, from me and mine, to you and yours. Including the fuzzy ones… (Please tell me that Licorice is in heaven with her favorite person to sleep with back in her life!)

  82. 82
    Little Bird February 25, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

    Yay! Your Chickadee is back in the nest!!!

  83. 83
    amy February 25, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    Welcome Home, Chickie!

  84. 84
    Melinda February 25, 2013 at 8:41 pm #


  85. 85
    addy February 25, 2013 at 9:34 pm #

    Welcome Home Chickie! And happy thoughts for all.

  86. 86
    elz February 25, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

    I’m so glad and hopeful. I am really hoping and praying that the transition back home is good for everyone. Many hugs & awesome wishes.

  87. 87
    Chris G February 25, 2013 at 10:29 pm #

    praying for you and your family. I am always more content when they are all under the same roof. ex-step children also. 2013 will be a great year

  88. 88
    Rocky Mountain Woman February 25, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

    Unicorns and glitter coming your way….

  89. 89
    Lara February 25, 2013 at 11:19 pm #

    Wow! So glad to hear that such a positive thing was behind the half-assing it, I was worried that the stress was wearing you down. So happy for you all that you are back together and hoping it goes well (or as well as life with teens can!).

  90. 90
    Ruth February 26, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    Tidy is comforting, but sometimes you have to push ahead. I’m glad your Chickie is back in the nest and doing so well.

  91. 91
    Arnebya February 26, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    I can’t think of anything poignant to say. I wish I could. All I got is WE’RE BACK ON TRACK TO SHOW 2013 WHAT FOR!

    And dammit, now I have to order Zombie Fluxx. Because of reasons.

  92. 92
    Redneck Mommy February 26, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    I had been holding my breath for you.

    It feels good to exhale.

    So happy for you all.

  93. 93
    liz February 26, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    Yippee!!!! So happy for all y’all!!!!

  94. 94
    chuck February 26, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

    I find this blog entry very nice. I have a feeling that you are a powerful reality writer. I always told my self that i wanted to write a book about history. if i were you i would keep up the good work on the blog it is a good one. You are cool.

  95. 95
    Another Dawn February 26, 2013 at 7:07 pm #

    The return of the chickadee! Yippee!

  96. 96
    Jean February 27, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

    Apparently I missed this post in my strep throat haze last week, but just saw your new one so went back frantically trying to connect the dots. CONGRATS MIR!!! Welcome home Chickie :) Sparkly rainbows and unicorns aside, you and your mom are inspirations to so many. May life shower you with a multitude of blessings, both great and small :)

  97. 97
    not supergirl February 27, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

    I wasn’t able to keep up last week, either, so just saw this now. And I exhaled, too. Why was I holding my breath? I don’t know, but apparently, I was. And I’m just relieved for you. Good for you all for recognizing that plans needed to change; that’s so hard to do after you’ve convinced yourself that this plan is the thing that will help. Also, I love the note.

  98. 98
    Christine February 27, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    Like Jean,, I missed this post and while reading the flute post was very confused and afraid to get my hopes up that she was really home – yay! The silver lining to major suckitude is knowing that you really can handle whatever comes your way. Cheers to a boring, run of the mill 2013!

  99. 99
    Clarity February 28, 2013 at 9:50 pm #

    Ohhhhhhhhhh…..I’ve been waiting for this post with baited breath :) welcome home Girlchild welcome home!!!

    And momma good on you for loving her enough to let her go, I’m so glad she’s back where she belongs.

    This made my day!!

  100. 100
    Lisa March 3, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    Whole indeed. :). So happy for the whole family. <3

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