It’s been a few weeks since my fiancé A has moved in with us. Our entire house has been rearranged and re-organized—a brand new play room for the girls upstairs, a bona fide adult-esque living room and dining room, sans 100,000 miscellaneous toys like sparkling, matchless princess shoes or the random McDonald’s toy stuffed behind the chair. Although we did set up a “kids table,” where DD1 can do her computer homework every night next to the couch, and when their friends come over, the little people can eat together there. And truth be told, slowly but surely, there is a trickling toy leakage seeping from the second story to the first one, but it’s manageable and lovable and—it feels like a brand new home, as if A hadn’t merely “moved in,” but that we have all moved in together. Furniture changed out (and upgraded, lol, lucky us!), my techie future hub hooking up cable and his computer so we can watch movies and Netflix and everything apparently under the sun. Last night, we watched a snippet of _The Sound of Music_, one of my absolute faves from childhood, and I was so excited to witness my girls watching, transfixed on Fraulein Maria, until it was time to go upstairs for bed time routine madness. And then hear them singing do-re-mi at the top of their lungs in the bath. (I’m seriously feeling so content it’s almost scary!)
And such a change from some of the usual rush of getting things ready every night—if I have a complete brain freeze regarding dinner, sweetheart A steps in, barbequing chicken, and DD1 is exclaiming that it’s now her FAVORITE, and DD2 is fighting over a second serving. After bath time, A helps blow dry their hair before bed time and/or helps with book time. There is so much giggling before bed, I have to tell them to calm down, that we’re going to BED, ladies, and I’m met with, just five minutes of play time mom, c’mon please? And then everyone DOES settle into bed, and I actually get about an hour of adult down time before I go to bed to get ready for the next day of madness, too.
Our morning crack of dawn rise and shine remains mostly the same, but now there’s tiptoeing into the bedroom to say goodbye to A, who is still a big heap underneath the blankets. And I come home to cute mushy post its, and yes, I leave some mushy ones behind, even as I’m packing up the lunches and loading up what seems like a thousand day bags into—backpacks, lunches, ballet class, brownies, etc--into the car. So the change is fun and exciting and at the same time, strangely “normal”—these random new routines we’re building, they’re becoming part of the scenery, how life is supposed to be. (What exactly does that mean, anyway?)
I recall in my prior incarnations, flying by the seat of my pants, walking through doors when they opened, or windows when doors slammed shut and the windows were the only alternative avenues, not knowing what to expect, embracing whatever was thrown at me, and then telling myself that “things were meant to be,” whether it was finding myself in a foreign country with $40 in my pocket, or moving across the country and back again, or eventually meeting and moving in with my ex, my unintentional-slash-intentional pregnancies, my handling of anger explosions, believing that he loved us and would get better, enabling him because of this belief in ‘meant to be,’ until I realized we were in actual danger…
Sometimes, A and I discuss that maybe we went through all our respective horrible and awful and not so horrible and not so awful and even happy and beautiful times—for a reason, too. That somehow they shaped us to be the who and why and where we were when we eventually met, so that we are now able to appreciate the things that we give to each other, not out of obligation or because “it was meant to be,” but with an understanding of living through life’s unexplainable horrors and griefs, that reaching the other side of those experiences with our hearts still surprisingly intact and able to be giving and kind and loving for kindness’ sake—maybe that’s a lesson we couldn’t have learned any other way.
I don’t know. I remember a few years ago holding on so tightly to what I thought life was “supposed to be,” resulted in my putting us in more harm’s way, rather than protecting us. I think we don’t know, and I sometimes think ‘meant to be’ is a bunch of hogwash. Or maybe we shape our experiences as something that’s meant to be so we can understand the complications and pain.
What I do know with certainty, is after all that we have been through—these “normal” days of living in our blending family, with the laughter that trickles upstairs when I’m getting the laundry, or the little surprises for the girls that appear because he was thinking of them, or the spontaneous trip to the zoo, or watching them run up to A and ask to be carried or read to or to help them with x, y, z, well--they are a blessing and they are to be cherished. That I realize acts of kindness and thoughtfulness mean so much more to me now than what I was able to appreciate before. So in this moment, I suppose I’m meant to be thankful. <3