14 February 2009

Six Months: A Valentine

In the last six months I haven’t done much blogging. Life somehow got in the way of writing about life. But, I feel like it’s about time I recorded some of it.

After moving out of my house in August, I moved in with one of my closest friends and my life changed completely. I ended up staying longer than expected . . . in fact I decided to stay for good. I now find myself with the family I never wanted to admit that I wanted and these five little women (Kris and her daughters: Eleven, Nine, Six and Four) have become my world.

In the last six months I have experienced such a series of tragedies and triumphs, the likes of which I never could have imagined before.

I’ve had to scrape together every cent I could in order to buy groceries, only to have to look Four and Six in the eye and tell them that I can’t afford to buy them pop because I hadn’t factored in the deposit when I was adding up the cost. I’ve gotten credit cards by the fistful, maxed them out just as quickly . . . lucked my way into the two best paying jobs I’ve ever had and still been a hairsbreadth away from not being able to keep a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs. The thought of not being able to give the girls the Christmas they deserved made me physically ill. And while I appreciate the weight loss I’ve experienced over the last few months, the accompanying grey hairs are a little less exciting.

I’ve fought with the girls over dinner, struggled to keep them from killing each other, battled with them over vitamins, bath time, bedtime, laundry, dishes, and letting the dog out.

I’ve sat in hospital rooms and watched Kris in crippling pain and been unable to do anything about it.

I’ve woken up in the middle of the night to the sound of Four screaming, only to find that a pair of wet pajamas was the only problem.

I’ve found the life I want and repeatedly found myself inches away from losing it all.

And I’ve watched Kris shake off years of emotional abuse, stand up for herself and become the woman I knew she could be. I’ve watched her find a way to feed the children when I failed. She has become my partner, the love of my life and my

When Six decided she would start calling me Daddy, tears welled up in my eyes. The next day, each time she called me Dave instead of Daddy I felt tiny pangs in my heart. Yet, each time Four throws her arms in the air and yells “Carry me!” I feel like a dad . . . even though she has a knack for doing it when my arms are full. When I carry her, and she grins and laughs and yells “Never put me down! Never!” it thrills me. When I told her the other day that she had to stop growing up she yelled the same “Never” and it broke my heart because I knew she was telling the truth.

Maybe it’s because I missed out on so much of their lives so far, or maybe it’s just the way all parents feel, but I cannot stand the thought of them aging. I’m constantly reminded, though, of their inevitable march toward adulthood. Nine is already closer to 16 than 10. Six has turned into Seven. And Eleven is dangerously close to puberty. At least Four is still young enough that she gets her pronouns confused and has extravagant tales of her adventures with her best friend Hannah Montana.

I’ve learned a great deal in the past six months. I’ve learned how to make quesadillas without setting off the smoke detector (that lesson was a long time coming, as the girls will attest). I’ve learned that you can get Four and Six to eat fish as long as you tell them that it’s chicken. I’ve learned that as soon as they are ready to ask for forgiveness, you have to be ready to accept it – even when you’re really not. I’ve learned that once you have four cats, two more doesn’t really make a difference. I’ve learned that one thing I enjoy more than learning is listening to my little women tell me about all the things they’ve learned. I’ve learned that plastic sheets are the greatest invention known to humanity. I’ve learned that you can lead a Six year old to dinner, but you can’t make her eat. I’ve learned that being Nine doesn’t mean that you can’t also be five. I’ve learned that you can fit six people in a Ford Taurus: it just isn’t pretty. I’ve learned what it means to fight for survival, and what sacrifice is. I’ve learned how generous my friends are. I’ve learned how easy it is to gain a child’s love and how hard it is to keep it. I’ve learned what it means to have a partner in life and what it means to be a father. I’ve learned that “Dave” can mean “Dad.” I’ve learned, too, that there is no way I can ever thank Kris or any of my little women enough for the time they’ve given me so far and the future they have promised to let me be a part of.

I know it isn’t much – it certainly isn’t enough – but this is my Valentine’s Day card to all of them.

Thank you for being my family and letting me be a part of yours. I love you.