Because Simon traveled often for work and because of his borderline introvert tendencies, we stayed home often when he was here. When he would return from a few day or weeks away, he wanted to be home. We would have family movie nights, read books together, play basketball in the backyard, or just sit on the grass and enjoy each other’s company. Friends were always welcome, he just preferred they come to us.
We have suddenly found ourselves with large amounts of available time. We spent so much time together as a family when Simon was home. And I don’t regret it for one second. But with Simon gone, there are four active extroverts chomping at the bit to do something with someone. Of course we make sure to be home enough to eat a proper dinner (bacon is proper, right?), finish homework, and get plenty of sleep. Beyond that, most offers to do something or go somewhere are met with an enthusiastic YES! And often if a kid or two is out with others, it gives me special time with the remaining kid(s).
Our son has enjoyed spending time with families we are close to and male figures from our church. He had a few drum lessons, which he would like to continue. He was able to see the touring performance of Walking With Dinosaurs. He visited the Lego Store (with an engineer!) and bought some fun sets with birthday money. He has enjoyed trips to the beach, the movies, and many birthday parties. And swimming! Lots of swimming at friend’s pools. Below is our son (on the right) with a longtime friend and his sons. The dad was actually in our wedding. You never think about just how much your friends mean or how sacred their calling to your family will become until a time of need.
Our middle daughter has historically required the most from us – the most attention, the most emotional care, and the most reassurance. We have weekly activities to keep her occupied and feeling loved by others. One family friend is working on “bucket list” items with her. Our daughter wants to go fishing, learn to bake, meet a unicorn etc. Not sure how this family friend plans to accomplish each request, but she is creative and nurturing. Another friend has been introducing her to horses and it may turn in to weekly lessons. Our daughter is also a glutton for beauty treatments – haircuts, manicures, glitter, makeup etc. Makes this momma proud.
Our youngest daughter, who is two and a half, loves to just go along for the ride. She is curious, spirited, and adventurous. She is always up for trying what the big kids are doing. She enjoys preschool, playing with friends, and taking risks. She also loves a good snuggle. When I need a break, I usually have my folks keep her overnight. She is very close to them and can usually convince them to let her sleep in their bed. She also lives to go out to breakfast with my dad.
I’ve been getting out with the kids to many activities and to spend time together. It’s still a delicate balance as I venture out on my own with friends. I look forward to being with them and feeling “normal” but I am still acutely aware of what has happened over the summer. I don’t want to ignore it, run from it, or pretend everything is fine. Friends will often come over after the kids have gone to bed. We’ll talk over tea or an adult beverage, and I have the freedom to breakdown and cry, which doesn’t go over quite as well if we were out at a restaurant. My most important role right now is to be a Christ following mother. Any other complementary roles (daughter, friend, sister-in-law, future wife) will develop or improve in due time. Below, a friend and I (I’m on the right) went out for an hour on a Friday night. Hey, it’s progress.