We're back and I have to say it was lovely. I've been meaning to post for the last few days, but I have been so busy that I haven't had a chance to breathe let alone write the post that has been forming in my head this past week.
--We had a wonderful week as a family. None of us had been to this part of Florida so there were no memories or traditions to worry about. We made new family memories with inside jokes, adventures, fun and lots and lots of joy. K and I were so relaxed I think it had a trickle down effect on all the kids. We easily got all the kids through the airport with their luggage and backpacks. The kids were awesome on the plane both ways. Without the stress of work, practices, homework, housework, etc., we only had to focus on enjoying each other and the beautiful location. Of course we still had to parent, feed, intervene during squabbles, etc. but without the drain of normal activities K and I handled it with ease.
--E was an absolute delight. I felt for the first time in months I spent time with the real E. She was well rested, relaxed and really, really funny. I felt like we were back to our normal Aunt Peg / E relationship. The other kids totally sensed it too and had so much fun playing with her in the pool, hitting the rides at the water park and exploring nature around the condo. We really needed it. Frankly, I really needed it. I love her so much, but it was nice to remember how much I like her.
--The condo was fabulous. It was beautifully decorated, comforting and huge. It really helped set the stage for a relaxing week. At one point, while standing in the master bathroom shower, A declared, "this is the nicest room I've ever been in!"
--K and I were totally in synch. It's been awhile since I felt like this. We laughed and truly enjoyed being with our new big family. When we're working on the same sheet of music, we're a great team and sometimes I think we forget that in the stress.
--A had a wonderful trip. He caught geckos, anoles, a corn snake and all kids of frogs. He recorded all of it on his new video camera (which he loved!) and has already posted his movie online. We spent his birthday in the Everglades spying alligators, turtles, lizards and birds. He was in heaven. We even saw a mother alligator and her babies. It was spectacular. On our way to the 'glades, the song "Good Life" by One Republic came on and while all the kids cheered and began to sing (including little L), tears sprang into my eyes. I felt so happy and at peace. Tears of joy indeed.
--I read some good books. I ate really well. The royal wedding was so much fun. I felt like myself. It was awesome.
--M was a mess a lot of the trip and it's continued since we got home. She has totally regressed in so many ways. Grunting, crying, bathroom accidents, screaming at her sister, jealous of any of the other kids if they were getting attention from me. At times it seemed like the more E settled and was happy, M got worse. She is so angry at E. She was horrible on A's birthday because he was getting a special day. She is an emotional hot wire and is definitely testing my patience. I feel so bad for her, but she is certainly a challenge and she drains so much physical and emotional energy.
--On our last night we had a wonderful dinner at a little hole-in-the-wall, cafe "down by the river." The food was awesome and we all had a great time, laughing and relaxed. After dinner we walked through old town Stewart to a new favorite ice cream shop. The big kids walked quickly ahead while L and I sauntered behind them with me holding him. He rested his head on my shoulder and said, "I am so sad E and M's family died. I don't want our family to die." It was so direct and sad. It's the first time he's articulated it out loud. I just started crying. It was so sad. I wish from the core of my being as his mother that he didn't have to know that mommy's and daddy's can die. It absolutely breaks my heart.
--On Wednesday night, D threw up from the top bunk at 3am. It wasn't that bad and with my new found "chill mode" I didn't freak out like I might have done at home. But seriously, it was gross and the splatter factor from the top bunk was awful. He also yakked all over his new book on the Mammals of southern Florida. He was not happy about it to say the least.
--There was definitely much more good than bad, but we still had moments of sad and tension. I'm hoping one day we'll be able to escape it copmletely for a least a little bit.
--Since we got back, life has been absolutely crazy and there aren't any signs of it lightening up. We had five soccer games last weekend. This weekend we have five more, plus a baseball game, A's "friend" birthday party and a joint birthday party for A and K Saturday night. Good Lord. I know we'll get it all done, but I sometimes feel like I'm running a never ending marathon.
--The whole Osama bin Laden thing has affected me a lot more than I thought. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm an analyst and deal primarily with terrorism and homeland security. Prior to 9/11, I was an analyst spending much of my time on humanitarian assistance and international security issues. That one event changed my professional career completely. Sunday night also brought back a lot of memories of that day. Worrying about colleagues in the Pentagon. Worrying about K downtown, blocks from the Capitol. Seeing people cheering on the streets in front of the White House also really disturbed me. So I'm not sure how I feel about it all. It's complicated...just like other parts of my life I guess. I think I have another post on this subject brewing.
--This morning a 4th grade teacher at school died. A had her last year. She was a wonderful teacher, and the best friend of M's current homeroom teacher. All the kids were crying, including M. I am so sick of death. I know that sounds so silly, but I would love to simply go 6 months without someone in our life dying. When I asked A tonight if he wanted to talk about it, he said, "Mom, I just wish I could take a break from death. It seems like everyone is dying." Again, so sad and so honest. I told E and M's therapists about it today and they couldn't believe it. I think I need to seek some professional help for all the kids. I need to know that they'll get through this with a healthy, normal perspective on life. I need to know that they can still have a happy, joyful, worry-free childhood. Naive of me maybe, but I don't want them to be scarred any more by the accident, death and the anxiety that comes with them.
So we're all okay. We had a great trip. I had a wonderful time. We're back home and are faced with the complicated, emotional life we lead. But, I still have hope "it's gonna be a good life" to quote One Republic. I have to hold on to that hope.