In what has become an interesting topic of introspection lately, I am trying to figure out the best way to define in our newly re-defined family the “we,” “they” and “me.” As I do this exercise, I am pretty confident my girls are also doing a similar exercise. It will be interesting to see where we all end up.
For clarity’s sake, in this context, “we” refers to our core family unit. This is myself and the two girls (10.5 and 8.0). When there are family events or family meetings or family decisions to be made, this is the we who will get it done. “They” refers to the two girls as a single group. This is not to say there is no singular identity for 10.5 and 8.0, I handle those direct. In this context like going to summer camp, its something “they” will do. And then there is “me.” In this context these are the times I have to deal with something, get out and be not dad, widower or anyone other than myself.
The “we” stuff while filled with its own set of issues is pretty straight forward. The most important aspect of this is to make sure we remain a cohesive family unit and are able to actually want to be with one another.
The “they’s” get a little trickier as the maturity gap between 10.5 and 8.0 grows. As noted throughout this blog, 10.5 is well on her way into pre-teen/puberty and has a lot of the pre-pubescent trimmings going for her. 8.0 just is not there yet, so it’s a struggle. Still, there are times when they are a single unit.
Then there is “me.” And it’s not an easy one. Over the weekend for the first time since my wife passed away I made plans and went out without the girls. There have been a couple of times I’ve been able to sneak in some social stuff after work–but this was the first time on a Saturday night I just went out. I could tell it was something different because 10.5 asked me, “where are we going?”
I know how important it is for me to find “me” time in this mix–and if I need to create it (and my 4AM gym run does not really count). For better or worse, for the last 14 years, even when my wife was relatively healthy there was never a time when I was not a caregiver-it was always there. I think it’s a difference between what I went through and what for instance my mother went through–with the sudden death of a spouse. Add to that the 9+ months she was in hospice–where it was kind of like living a suspended life, waiting for the call.
While that time helped create the foundation for a three person house, it’s not the same–there was not a permanence to it. While I went through stages of grieving during the ordeal, the kids I think remained hopeful at some level. Our realities changed.
So while we’ll go skiing (again) this weekend and they’ll likely have a snow day from school this week, me? I’ll let you know once I figure it out.