Springtime in Sonoma county is blissful: cool mornings, sunny afternoons and everyone itching to spend the whole day outside. After "quiet time" the other day, we went over to our friends' cul-de-sac for a little bicycle action on the street. When I told Ella our plans, she smiled brightly, with so much generosity in her voice and said, "Oh, those guys are so lucky to live on such a nice street!" Incidentally, we live on a highway.
With the sun still warming us low in the sky, the kids raced back and forth down the street and then spent a good hour playing with the gravel in my friend's front yard. They buried each other in it and filled their tucked-in t-shirts until they looked pregnant and chubby. They were hysterical with giggles and filthy with dust, and the whole scene was just one of those perfect life moments. Nothing special, just a simple, satisfying afternoon.
After the children had completely stretched out their t-shirts with rocks, Ella asked one the of the neighbor boys if he was going to tell his mom about his ruined shirt when he got home. He was balancing on his bike, standing still, when he slowly put his feet on the ground and said, "I don't have a mom." Not quite grasping the gravity in his voice, or maybe she did, Ella responded, "Oh, do you have two daddies?"
Witnessing their interaction from afar, I smiled at her modern assumption and then my heart just broke as he told her that his mother had died four years ago. He just has a dad now, he said. And a grandma. And a kid brother. Only a few seconds passed when they all shrugged it off and went back at it on their bikes, but I'm not so easily distracted.
We seem to be surrounded with breaking families lately. Two of Ella's close school friends' parents are going through difficult divorces (is that redundant?), and another is clearly on the brink. Then we learned that our neighbors/friends are splitting up and moving (separately) across town. On top of all that, a few weeks ago and out of the blue as far as I was concerned, my sister-in-law practically arrived on our doorstep after fleeing the state to escape her husband of 24 years. He had some kind of breakdown, and she had to get a year-long restraining order against him. What is going on, people? Is it something about that pesky Mercury in retrograde? Maybe I'm just finally old enough for all of my friends' marriages to start becoming part of the national stat? It's so depressing.
Despite all of that swirling around us, our life continues to improve and look brighter every day. New, and potentially very rewarding, opportunities are presenting themselves left and right, and Matt is beside himself with plans (and work). He's so excited and pleased and gracious that even his constant distraction with work isn't irritating me the way it has in the past. Finally having a light at the end of this long new business tunnel is definitely improving my patience with his workaholism.
Back to yesterday, after we'd said our goodbyes and packed up her bicycle, I stealthily encouraged Ella to tell me about her conversation with the neighbor boy, pretending I didn't know about his mother. She seemed to take it in stride—very matter-of-fact. Somehow that conversation segued in her mind to her neighbor friend's new living situation, and Ella said, "I wish you and daddy lived in separate houses, like S's parents, because then I would have two houses." I guess S's parents have pitched their separation to their kid as a fun new adventure, worthy of 5 year old envy. I told her that we're all happy living together, but it's nice that S is excited about her daddy's new house. Then she asked if she could have a cookie when we got home.
Apparently all this it's not screwing with her nearly as much as it is with me!