Today’s a relatively warm day (in the forties, I think) and I’ve got four kids here. Sarah and Jessie have been holed up in her room for the past couple of days (with a brief break when the slept over at my in-laws last night), and Sam and Julianna have been together, playing and bickering. I spent most of the morning cleaning and reading (I like to bounce between the two), and by a little after 1:00, we were all relatively stir crazy.
So I made them all put on shoes and got buckets. No real reason for the buckets – although I’ve used them in the past when I was doing scavenger hunts (give them a list of ten things – like sticks, rocks, flowers, etc – that must be collected on the walk) and set out. Julie was miserable, but willing to go along with me if I’d push her in the carriage. Yes, I know she’s closer to four than three, and I know that she’s far too big for the carriage, but I shoved her in there anyway because Girlfriend was not going to walk willingly.
Sarah, Jessie and Sam put the buckets on their heads and off we went. Sarah was bouncy and delighted, fresh air and nobody yelling at her to hush was just what she wanted. Jessie was still in her new red Charlotte Klien sweatshirt (she hasn’t really taken it off since Christmas Day) and Sam was so right there with Sarah. He likes to match her, crazy for crazy, and the two of them screamed their way around the block, laughing and racing and running.
One thing that I’m really grateful for, now, as the kids get older, is that we spent as much time together when they were little. Marc and I got together a few months after he filed for divorce, and the girls were very young. They don’t remember a time without me, I don’t think. We always taught the kids that they were a family – they were sisters (and later sisters and a brother). Even though we don’t see the girls anywhere near as much as we used to (and adjusting to that loss has been really hard on my kids), because they’re getting older, when we are together, they’re still siblings. The foundation is there – and my kids, and my stepkids, function as a family.
Mostly now, it breaks down to Jessie/Sarah, and Lilli/Sam/Julie, but make no mistake – these five kids are a unit. They’re family, and siblings and crazy and insane and loving and fighting and bickering and driving their parents crazy together. And it was a lovely midwinter walk that just reinforced that for me today. We may not do everything right, as parents. (In fact, at any one time, I’ve got a lengthy list of parenting screw ups I’ve committed that day.) But one thing we did right, from the very beginning, is to raise our family as siblings. Lilli and Sarah are a separate unit, as are my three – but for sure and for certain, the five of them together are a unit too. And that’s lovely. Even (maybe especially?) when they’re running up the hill, with buckets on their heads, and screaming with joy and laughter.