Memorial Day means a three day weekend. Normally I would dread three days with the kids- partly because I am still learning how to sustain single-parenting energy for that long. I'm usually exhausted and beating myself up at the end of the weekend for not entertaining the kids enough.
But, there's been a slight shift, even though you wouldn't know it if you walked by the house Saturday. Jack was working on his photo board since he's "special person of the week" this coming week at school (each student gets the spotlight for a week). After a particularly challenging Saturday morning, when I was trying to just accept that fact that we are a family that yells at one another from time to time (and by time to time, I mean every other day and double on Saturdays), I tried to distract us by talking about what makes the week "special." Part of the special person gig is to answer some questions. Among them is "what do you like to do as a family?" When Jack told me about that question, the refrain in my head was an automatic, "crap, we don't do anything fun." I asked Jack what he was going to write, hoping he had a better answer. His initial response was "hang out with friends." True enough. I have heavily relied- probably too much-- on our family and friends to carry the entertainment load. Ed was the fun one, he was the one that would make light of things if they got too serious or make a party out of an ordinary day. Me? I make sure the kitchen is clean and the beds are made and, then--*maybe*-- turn on the music for an impromptu dance party.
Jack looked at me and said, "I could write that we yell and fight." Yes, we do. But, we have a wicked sense of humor about it.
I'm reading Jeanette Walls' Half Broke Horses. I finished Cheryl Stayed's Wild a few weeks ago and mentioned to Sarah that I was inhaling the story of rugged survival. She brought me Half Broke Horses, a hard core Laura Ingalls Wilder "true-life novel" about Walls' amazing no-bullshit, resourceful, remarkable teacher-rancher-pilot grandmother, Lily (the narrator). Lily spends one page dealing with the death of a family member. The last paragraph reads:
I realized that in the months since [my sister] had died, I hadn't been paying much attention to things like the sunrise, but that the old sun had been coming up anyway. It didn't really care how I felt, it was going to rise and set regardless of whether I noticed it, and if I was going to enjoy it, that was up to me.
Marrying Ed - who was naturally a fun loving, energetic, humorous person- made me lazy- in terms of holding my own court of enjoyment. So, obviously, without him, I not only don't know how to make things fun, I've also been slightly terrified of trying. Anything I knew that would be fun would also mean facing an attempt of fun without the very person who helped to create the fun memories (bleh).YET- also, obviously, I am not about to give into some not-entirely-accurate identity of the "unfun" parent.
This weekend, instead of expecting exhaustion or worrying about whether or not we could have fun, I took the kids on two outings. Two. Without anyone else. Today, we went to the Seattle Mariner's game, our first as just a family of three. (They won 9-0.) And, Jack danced just like Ed, Uncle Steve and Aunt Lisa (and, I like to think, our living room dance parties) taught him- without abandon or self-consciousness in the hopes of getting on diamond vision. Reese danced like she would have no matter what: also without abandon. As I was sitting there, enjoying baseball like I always have (there are miracles), I thought of Lily's quote. It is up to us. And, we're doing it.