Summer is about halfway through, at least by the school calendar that the kids and I use to mark it. Lex has gone from matching my height when he finished sixth grade to being half a head taller than me in just a few weeks. I'm constantly washing towels, hanging bathing suits up to dry, cutting up fruit, making ice, shaking sand out of bags and shoes and blankets. I used to spend all summer wishing for autumn, but I love it now. Most mornings I get up at 5:30 so I can make coffee and get some work done before the kids get up. I see them nearly every day, but I'm still struck by how big they've gotten when I go to wake them and take a second to watch them still and sleeping. The girls sleep in my bed with me, and when I slip out from between them a few seconds before the alarm would have gone off, they reach for each other in their sleep, cuddling up like puppies.
This has been a good year. I mean, if you saw it outlined in bullet points on paper, you'd think otherwise — but the truth of our life is that the last year has been great. I don't write much about getting divorced, but that should all be final before the real end of summer toward the end of September. I put it off for so long, for years, literally, because I worried about the kids and about Willow in particular. And they are thriving, even though it's not been an amicable parting. They're full of laughter and energy and stories, they try to sneak extra ice cream and test out using cuss words in front of me. They're happy when they're with me on the weekends and we go to the beach with SG or to the drive-in burger place for fries and milkshakes. We sit at the kitchen table together with our supper that they helped make, and they tell me jokes and ask me about my day and ask if SG can come visit, if he isn't here already. Lex watches too much tv on the internet, and has discovered The Beatles and Oasis at the same time; Nathan skates as much as possible; Willow spends hours making stories with her Playmobile toys and stuffed animals; and Sophie IMs her friends and angles for playdates at houses with swimming pools. And they all sing. All the time.
I'm so truly happy. I sing in the shower, and sing AND dance in the kitchen while I'm cleaning up. I've got some health problems that will never go away, an epic tax mess that I have to pay half of even though I had no part in creating it, am having to do damage control when Willow's dad says juvenile things about SG to the kids, but it's okay. I can handle all of that.
A year ago, I was so depressed, and wondered if it was stupid of me to continue to hope for better. I could never talk myself out of wanting what I wanted, though, even when I thought I'd never get there. And because I still wanted to get my real life closer to the story in my head (for me and also for my kids), I promised myself that I'd do whatever it took to give us a shot at it. No matter how hard. There are so many cliches about hope, but here's my take on it anyway: Life is so much more rewarding when you are working toward something that you are hoping for — really hoping, the closing your eyes and wishing hoping that you discovered when you were a little kid — even if you don't quite end up where you thought you would.
I feel lucky every single day, even the days when I want nothing more than to get my ass home and a sit down with a gluten-free beer in my hand. But it isn't all luck, exactly, that I'm happy. I'm willing take full credit for getting my ducks in a row and opening up the door for good things to come in. When the good luck showed up, I was ready. Part of me was tempted to say, Dude, what took you so long? but the smart part just decided to enjoy every single second of this reward for still hoping, even when it seemed pointless. Like I said before, some bad things have happened this year, too. A couple of them broke my heart. But now that we are pointed in the right direction, I can feel sad while still being happy. And when people find out that I'm a single mom with four kids and they act like they feel bad for me because I must have it so rough, I tell them that I'm lucky, and we're doing just fine.