I was gone for seven weeks.
Correction: I came back on the first day of my seventh week away from my whole entire life.
It's been so long since I've written anything here, and so much has happened in that expanse of time, that I can't even remember what's already been said. I suppose I could go read my own archives, but that somehow feels like cheating. On myself. With myself. There's a vibrator joke in here somewhere.
I was gone for seven weeks. So much has happened in that time.
My oldest son's voice dropped while I was gone. I called one day and had no idea who was on the phone. I wasn't even sure it was a *human*. That boy is going to make some choir director's baritone dreams come true. He also got his schedule for high school while I was gone. After 14 years of parenting, I have now officially missed a milestone. I can't believe how awful that feels.
My youngest child, my daughter, she kept her squeak but refined it. Like the baby fat that sheds itself overnight, the roundness of her words molted away and was replaced with sharp angles, strong bones, and complex adjectives. I came back to a girl-child, a woman-in-progress, someone who spent the summer learning, for the first time, how to be feminine from someone other than me. Now I condition her hair all wrong, but she'll still gives me butterfly kisses in the early hours of the morning when no one else is looking. I'll take it.
My middle son is the most eerily inconsistently consistent human being I have ever met. Nothing about him has changed in the slightest. It is amazingly comforting to come back to one familiar thing.
I left Phoenix with a 10X15 storage locker and the hope that everything would work itself out...and not much more. I had to go; I had to go for my job, I had to go for my sanity, I had to go for him and his family to start finding their own way through this together. I had to go, and I went, and I had no clue what was going to happen once I was on the other side of more flips of a calendar than I'd ever relinquished control of my family to before.
Relinquishing control is not my strong suit. Josh and I got into a massive fight in, oh, week two because he and his sister were being such control freaks and undoing each and every one of the many meticulous plans I'd so carefully laid out, all pressed and starched, on the edges of the beds for the time I would be gone. Because I'm not a total hypocrite, oh no.
Turns out, letting go is a lot easier when you're in free fall and there is nothing to latch on to.
This summer was a long, slow, drawn out, slow-motion leap of faith. It wasn't even a leap so much as a leaning over the edge until I had no choice but to fall. It was terrible and frightening to be gone for so long, and I am so glad that I was. I think I had to be. I think I had to let everything settle down the way it wanted to, not the way I wanted to orchestrate it to.
I think I had to let the kids father spend the summer with him in his own way - not the way I would want, expect, or even tolerate, honestly, had I been within a 10 hours drive of them, but it wasn't my summer with them so really, it isn't my place to dictate how it went.
They're happy as shit to be home.
I think I had to be very, very humbled by the love and support that I sometimes forget I have in my corner of the ring. My kids' godfather and his brand new wife and their brand new baby basically gave me a home when literally did not have one, some company, some perspective, and the best homemade ice cream you will ever put into your body. My best friend talked me off a lot of ledges, and watched over me even when I wasn't sure I wanted to be watched over. My old, old buddy (who *gasp* doesn't have anything to do with teh internetz and is therefore unlinkable) fed me some wine when I needed it, played me ridiculously loud rock and roll in the parking lot, just like we used to do a million years ago, and reminded me of who I used ot be before I tripped and fell into this damn hole again.
I think I had to be ready to let everything change, and I think I was gone just long enough that everything did exactly that.
And now we have this home - a house that I took sight me-unseen (the kids and their dad came to check it out, and the kids said, "uhunno, i guess it'll do, grunt", and that, like cookie, was good enough for me). We still haven't met our neighbors (though I've met their unsecured wifi signal, howdy) (don't you judge me) and my garage still looks like this:
But my living room, MY living room, myveryownlivingroom without a drunk guy on the couch sucking all the energy out of it, looks like this:
And my daughter's room looks like this:
And my sons' room looks like this:
And that is, of course, blackmail for later, when they are really being a-holes and also have girlfriends. Have blog and iPhone; am not afraid to use them.
(Also, judge not the dorm room. They had loft beds which clearly will not fit. Ikea run for twin frames forthcoming. Until then, that room is merely a crystal ball of their almost-immediate future, with less ramen and porn.)
I am not showing you my room. Last night, my son told me to flipping clean it up already, mawm, jeez. When a 14 year old is disgusted with the way you're living, it's time to reassess.
But really, what matters to me most right now isn't the way the couches I got for $125 on Craiglist while I was gone (score) perfectly fit this space I accidentally ended up in, or the way the sun rises through the blinds in my windows and makes everything look sparkly and full of promise every single day now that I'm back, it's that under this roof, there are three smiles. Three real, relaxed, not contrived, not manic, not hiding anything behind them smiles.
I was gone for seven weeks. That's why. And now I get to start on forever, finally.