Saturday, October 1, 2011

You Belong

This weekend is one in which my family did not have any plans to do anything.  We weren’t traveling to meet family, traveling to attend a football game, attending a fall festival, going to a party, or even hosting a party.  We had an open weekend – blissful, non-structured time.  I usually spend time like this going blind drinking wine and reading Vogue, but this weekend I thought I’d do something a little more productive.  Besides, I did the wine and the magazine last night.

My husband decided that he was going to spend this weekend drinking beer and watching football, so I locked him the basement and announced that I would be decorating the house for fall.  Here in the Northeast, the temperatures are dropping and it is time for pumpkins and placing motion-detecting screaming skeleton heads around the house to torment small children.

We have a large bin full of Halloween costumes from years past, including costumes from when my children were very small.  My daughter wanted to spend some time perusing the contents of the Halloween bin, because she is, in her words, “new to this family and I don’t always know what's going on.” 

My daughter is eight.  She is not new to this family.  She has been in this family for three-quarters of the time we have actually been a family.  My husband and I got married and had our son a year later.  Two years after him, we had her.  I am not (always) a complete moron, and my parenting skills might as well have been learned from a pamphlet found in the grocery store checkout line, but I am intuitive enough to know that she just wanted to spend time with me.  What a sweetie.  I totally don’t deserve her.

We sat down, emptied the Halloween bin, and went through the costumes.  Here’s the witch costume your brother wore when he was three.  Here’s your black cat costume from when you were one.  And two.  And maybe even three.  Here’s your hula dancer wig.  Here’s Darth Vader’s cape.  Here’s daddy’s handcuffs from… oh wait.  Here, Mommy will take those.  We had a fine time going through the bin, and cooing over the smallest outfits.  I realized that while rehashing memories, we were making a new memory.

When we were all done and the costumes put back in the bin, I felt I had to set my daughter straight about something.  I said, “Look. You are not new to this family.  You have barely missed anything we’ve done.”  I knew that she wouldn’t understand that the time she missed, before she was born and when she and her brother were babies, was a time that I spent mostly worrying about just how the hell my husband and I were equipped to raise children.  Instead I said, “We go on trips, we yell and we kiss and we laugh about balls and wieners.  That’s our family, and that’s all you need to know.”

I think she was okay with that.

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