I've received a couple of phone calls today inquiring whether today's "ritual" was any better than last week's. I hope no one thought I was too disappointed or sensitive about last week's antics: quite the opposite. I was trying to illustrate just how quickly things return to "normal" and to make light of how sometimes, as parents, we have to just roll with the punches.
Nonetheless, this week's "ritual" was better. First, Finn woke up at 8:00 a.m. instead of 7:00 a.m. Suh-weet! Life always seems better after an extra hour of sleep. I fed him a banana to tide him over while Jack and Regan helped me make Monkey Bread. (It only has four ingredients and is so mindless that even I can manage it). So, we feasted at home on Monkey Bread and sausage. While we ate, I casually mentioned that, "Oh yeah, by the way, this is Dad's memory breakfast for this week, so what memories do you want to share of him?" Regan was only marginally annoyed that we weren't going to a "real" restaurant, but was quick to share her memory. Jack and Aubrey chimed in, too, and then Regan asked "what do you miss about Dad, Mom?"
I said that "what I miss most is not having him here to talk to." Regan said, "well, you'll always have us to talk to." Which was a sweet sentiment, but, understandably naive. The kids cannot substitute for Jeff--I cannot speak to them as friends or confidants. They cannot soothe the realization that from this point in my life, every tragedy that befalls me will find me alone and undefended. They cannot help me rationalize the resentment I feel when I consider that no man who was obligated to take care of me for the rest of my life ever stuck around to finish the job. No--I must save these conversations for the good and patient friends who have stayed on the phone with me past midnight and, perhaps, for any unwitting pedestrian who has the ill-fate of standing within earshot of me.
Of course, I am kidding. I have not had to turn to strangers for help or a listening ear thanks to all of you who so generously continue to support me and my kids. But this weekend has been particularly trying--and for no other reason than I'm tired. I'm absolutely physically exhausted. And I've realized that no matter how many sincere and well-meaning people say, "I will do anything you need, Kelly"--they simply cannot. They cannot be at my dinner table, half-way through a meal, when Finn has decided he is DONE and I am still trying to eat (usually while standing) and wipe whatever bare minimum of yogurt from his hair and face and hands will allow him to be picked up and attended to and still allow me to finish eating. They cannot rescue me when I'm getting slapped and kicked and cried-on and snotted-on (Finn still has a cold) in church and take a turn in the hallway telling Finn "no no" a thousand times as he terrorizes the drinking fountains and Holy Water fonts. They cannot, while I am taking MY turn in the hallway, take the burden off of a grieving 13 year old who now must enforce the "rules" ("be quiet, Jack; kneel up, Regan") for children who are--more often than not--orphaned at mass. And I know that having Jeff would not necessarily mitigate these scenarios--in fact, he had been unable to physically lift Finn for quite a while and had slowly abdicated his role as our household's primary parent throughout the summer. But, it was still nice to have someone who could share a knowing glance or who would at least try his hand at distraction or who would give my eyes and ears a moment's rest. Because when you have two parents in the house, one parent can at least assume the other parent is occupying the children if they are too quiet or nowhere to be seen. Now, I have no such satisfaction. Instead, anything and everything that happens, happens on my watch. There is no changing of the guards or leaving my post. It makes me tired.
But, before I submit to my pity party, I think you should know this: (1) I am a Big Baby because I am uncommonly privileged to have two world-class nannies who take-one-for-the-team five days a week. They--and the kids' schools/teachers--do most of my weekday parenting for me, so any sob-story you get from me is pure hyperbole; and (2) this weekend held many highlights that far surpass any sadness or frustration implied above. First, I--singlehandedly--put sod on Jeff's grave. It looks so much better. Jeff would be astounded to know I did it myself (sod is freakin' heavy!) and he would likely be full of criticism about the end result, but it looks better than it did, so I'm happy and proud that I actually accomplished something on my "to do" list (and, uh, speaking of my "to do" list: writing the thank you notes is slowly making its way up the list. Baby steps.). Also, the kids had a fun weekend with their friends and anytime they can play with friends and have a sense of freedom and "normalcy" it's a good weekend. I smiled outloud when I had all my kids and the Murphy boys in my van (on a quick outing to Dairy Queen and the park) when they started singing along with a CD Abe brought along. They all belted out "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey. I loved it. It couldn't have been more fitting, either . . .
As for the rest of the day: I talked to my sister; my Dad called to check on me; friends brought us food; they had donuts at church (!!!); I finished three loads of laundry; AND I even snuck in a nap while Finn was sleeping. So, all in all, it was a very good day.
I'll update again soon. Until then . . .