Beginning of 2021

The girls are in the kitchen

Ivy wants bread with fish egg spread. She just had dinner. But conrad indulges her. He is tired. He had a long emotional day. And a lasting headache. But he smiled and he served her. I see his profile. And I love him in that moment… just a little more.

Jackie wants dessert. Always. He serves her too. We go through the motions. Some things are exciting and fun. Others are just life.

After dinner Both girls dance. Today we try to keep the thumping noises to a minimum. We try to figure out new styles of dancing. Not easy for two free style spirited dancers.

We watch together discovery: Tiny animals. Jackie wants to sit on my lap. She snuggled to feel my warmth. Then ivy wants to sit on my lap. After she sits in daddy’s lap. Jackie concedes her spot but continues to hold my hand. We watch discovery for another 15 minutes. Then both girls manage to squire on the tiny Chesterton couch, including Rufus who drapes over our feet.
It’s a regular Saturday, the first in the new year. We take it slow and we savor the moment. It dawns on me. Time. It took this much time for ivy to settle in our family. To attach and feel comfortable as much as she does now. Three months ago I would have said she is settled in. But with every day or week that passes, though not much happens in a pandemic, to pass the time faster, to make exciting memories, this time we spend together she weaves into every fiber of our family unit, our life, our habits and rhythm. I know there will be an even smoother time, but it already is. No more tears at bedtime. We take turns putting the girls to bed. We read most evening. We pray most evening, and we sing lots of songs – worship (Ioanid and Dorz).

We’ve had a sunny disposition in sync with the weather. Unusually clear and bright and warm. But we take it. As if it’s our last cooked warm meal before fasting. There will be a feast again. But for now, we are in the eye of the winter storm. We are parenting full time, and it’s a season that I can’t say I enjoy very much though I know I should. I feel more honest embracing survival. Though the girls need our happiness as much as they need our empathy and care. Isn’t that too big of an ask? Before I had kids, I would have felt encroached in my personal space and choice to feel however I want to feel, even if I choose positivity and joy. But I’m mature enough to understand that happiness expressed is a choice. It’s practiced. It’s leveled or exuberant. Colorful or quiet. But you can’t mistake the essence.

Daddy dances with ivy. Jackie is asking deep questions about dating and knowing whom to marry. Our bellies are satisfied, our tastebuds are tickled, table manners have only slightly been reminded. And we put ourselves in our girls shoes. What kind of love and acceptance would we like to enjoy in our family. Jackie did her exercises with minimal nagging, if I film her she does them perfectly. If I do then with her, she still complains but she does most of them well. We’ve had a rough season in December at the beginning. She’s still ok wearing the corset until we go for the checkup. We still do the stretches.

Parenting is a state of mind, a verb, a journey. I pray I can get better at it. The timing of everything, as it turns out, was perfect. So far at least, as we connect the dots in retrospect.

We are blessed, and slightly too mentally exhausted to rejoice in the moment. But we continue on. With immense gratitude for my spouse. And for the empathy we feel for each other.