Sometimes Mystic and I are up super late, kid free, talking. About anything and everything. And nothing. Two Saturdays ago was one such night. Wired after a Girls Night Out, and a few glasses of wine, I wasn’t tired yet. Even though it was slowly creeping past 1 am.
Random tv shows on the screen playing in the background, the room dark save for the painted glow-in-the-dark constellations on my ceiling (yes, indeed), just talking. Apparently after the day has long since shut down, and I have had a little bit of wine, I get repetitive. But it’s also the best time to connect. Or reconnect.
When the kids aren’t tugging at my shirt sleeves.
Or calling from the living room to come watch a commercial of some new amazing thing that we have managed to so far live without.
Or needing homework help.
Or rides to basketball games.
And soccer practice.
When laundry doesn’t need doing, dishes cleaning, or floors sweeping.
Those stolen moments when everything gets forgotten and adult conversation, the kind with finished sentences and deep thoughts, happens.
I love that.
Whether it’s a talk with Mystic, the littlest kids of our collective five, or my favorite girlfriends, I love those connections. Those little fibers that keep us going. That power us through long days, lame East Coast wintery weather, work craziness, sniffles, lost boots, and bills.
And that magic is a good balance to all the moments that aren’t. Dating with kids isn’t easy. In fact, it’s downright challenging. Although I dated a few people before Mystic, he was the first person that I introduced the kids to, several months into our relationship. I didn’t want them to meet, or get attached, to someone who might just be passing through.
The kids, mine and his, are the number one priority. Period, end of story. Whether it’s our weekend with kids or without. If they’re not with us, they’re calling. Or texting. On a recent Friday night, when all five kids were supposed to be with our respective ex-spouses, Mystic and I found ourselves at Outback, with his daughter with us. As he fielded calls from both of his boys. And I was getting texts from Nick.
His daughter said that we needed a romantic, quiet date because we hadn’t had one in awhile.
I laughed and asked, “Do you know why we haven’t?”
She shook her head.
“Well, tonight’s your night with your mom, and you’re here with us. The boys are calling. Nick wants to talk…”
All of this is absolutely a-ok, and goes with the territory, but this is why those quiet moments of stolen conversation are so very important. Because they are few and far between.
If Mystic is with me, Nick wants to be with us, afraid that he’s going to miss something. Not wanting to be away from home, even though it’s only four nights a month. Mystic’s daughter would rather spend time with us. No matter what we’re doing. There’s moments of jealousy. From four out of the five kids. The occasional bout of hurt feelings.
We have dinner together, all together as a collective seven, frequently. We have dinner together, separately, in our own families all.the.time. We plan activities to focus on just the boys. And just the girls. And one-on-one time. When it’s just Mystic and I, we don’t go further than a two hour radius. Because invariably there is some emergency or something that needs to be tended to. Stat.
It makes things difficult. Challenging. For us as a couple. Sometimes, as parents, I feel that whatever we do is never enough. They all know they are loved. Without question. Their importance in the family. In our lives. Through words. Through actions. Repetitively. Day in and day out. I think a lot of it stems from the divorces, no doubt. The sting of a parent leaving. Residual anger. Bitterness. I wonder if that will ever go away. Even now, three years later (for me), it’s a topic that comes up regularly. Why The Ex left. Why it didn’t work. Perhaps they cling to what IS working for fear that it might stop working too. I don’t think we (as in, me, Nick, and Maddie) could be any tighter. Could spend any more time together than we already do. Yet, the reassurances are always needed. Same with Mystic and his kids.
I know I have readers that are separated and divorced. Some with kids, some without. A lot of the issues we face are commonplace across the board. As for how to deal with it? I think the two fibers that keep cropping up are being consistent (with love, behavior, reassurances, family) and relishing the mundane. And if you haven’t gone through a divorce, the same holds true, doesn’t it? Whether you’re embarking on a new career, working to meet a goal, or trying to keep your head above water. Consistency and appreciation.
I have no answers. I hope that as the kids get older, some of the issues we face become less of a challenge. Given the ages of Mystic’s kids (with the oldest at age 18), I’m not so sure about time healing all wounds. But what I do know is that the challenges make me appreciate the bouts of nothingness all the more. We will have crazybusy weekends filled with dinners, celebrations, and sports practices, and then we will purposely schedule a weekend full of pure laziness. One, because we need it. And two, as Mystic says, the weekends where we have nothing to do never seem to end up that way. And so, we relish in the mundane. Whether it’s a few minutes of uninterrupted conversation, emptying the dishwasher, or running errands, it means just as much as the big stuff. And amidst all that, more hugs. More reassurances. More family time. Together, in different groups, and separate. And consistency. Consistency more than anything else. For consistency, as we all know, is the way to fix most things. Little bodies that need routine. Chores that need doing. Kicking Diet Coke habits. Always consistency.
Tomorrow? A complete 360 with a recipe for Peachy Keen Grilled Chicken.