Back to Reality

FullSizeRender-2The long holiday break is over, so it’s time to get back.

Back to school. Back to housework. Back to regularly showering. Back to the same ol’ same ol’.

Sigh. Makes me sadder than usual.

It’s not like we did anything Instagram-worthy, like my oldest daughter’s friends who hit the slopes and cuddled koalas. Our two-week, school- and work-free existence was a little more meh. We got smothered and covered by relatives, which was fun and chaotic. We played old-fashioned games that involved boards and plastic pieces. We saw that new “Star Wars” movie in cushy recliners and while I still fail to appreciate this new generation of jedi wannabes, I do appreciate putting up my feet and not making dinner. We celebrated a 16th birthday. We hit the outlet mall for after-Christmas sales and I totally sucked at golf, shanking plenty of shots, which I believe were captured on cellphones by No. 3 and his cousin and so it is quite possible that I am a YouTube celebrity in Taiwan right now. We called the plumber out twice for emergencies and made it eight, whole hours before the first urgent-care visit of 2018 for stitches. I made pancakes for breakfast — on a Tuesday. We know how to cut loose.

To the average person, none of that sounds like a vacation worth bragging about. I loved it — well, not the part where we couldn’t flush or run water down the drains — but I loved the rest of it and for one simple reason: We were together.

Never in the history of our five-person family unit have we spent an entire two-week winter break together. Never. No one could ever spare that much time off of work, so we did that thing that working parents do: divide and conquer. We’d split the weeks and take turns watching the kids. Of course they’re all old enough now to not require adult supervision, especially since they’re usually only awake for an hour or two before a typical workday ends anyway. But it was special to have all of us — all five of us — together. It was a lot of quality time and I’m not going to do that thing that people on Facebook do where they make life sound all smiley and perfect when it’s so definitely not, but I treasured the time because it was our time together.

All five of us.

It’ll be different in a matter of months when No. 1 heads off to college. She won’t always be here to try a new restaurant or fight with her sister in the morning before school. It’ll be… weird. When you’re used to three kids always around, hogging the bathrooms and the best spots on the couch, it’s disconcerting when one’s at a sleepover or away on a school trip. Things feel off. They don’t feel whole. I can’t imagine what it will feel like when for months at a stretch we’ll be down one.

Maybe we can get the plumber to hang out with us. He’s practically family.


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