Christmas morning found me in my pajamas, cooking pancakes and bacon and brewing a pot of coffee while Max and Juan played the boy’s new video game downstairs. It could have been a scene from the movie I used to play over and over again in my mind during the early months of our separation, the movie entitled, “If Only It Could Work Out”. So funny that we ended up here even though we haven’t really ended up anywhere near what I thought “here” would look like. Two separate homes. Custody agreement and child support.
Its been almost 7 years since we separated. Max doesn’t remember what it was like to live with his dad and sometimes he cries that he just wants to know what its like to have both parents in one house. I know that feeling of wishing my family to be whole too–that sense that THIS is not how its supposed to be. That sense that families are SUPPOSED to be together in one house or that parents are SUPPOSED to work it out for the sake of the children or that we are SUPPOSED to be rewarded for hard work with “happy ever after”. I once held onto those old stories too.
And yet, if life has taught me anything these past seven years it is that there is no “supposed to”. There is simply life, marching on, throwing curve balls and opportunities to learn new ways of being. There is no happily ever after but if we can let go of the SUPPOSED TO there are plenty opportunities to be happy right now.
The definition of our family is constantly shifting. Truth be told, every definition is really simply a story, made up, self constructed. We are just three people, two adults and one wise, funny, brilliant and gorgeous child doing our best to make it through life peacefully. Connected to one another in a thousand different ways that matter. (Disconnected in some other important ways too!) Juan and I are both profoundly awake to the fact that whatever we did to one another in marriage and divorce, the best thing we ever did bring this amazing child into this world. We have found a way to let the rest go so we can both bathe in that sweetness. We have found a way to dance a new dance so we can both be with our son and witness his glory on this most magnificent morning.
We have done Christmas lots of ways, but recently have found a way to a shared Christmas morning. Of being together the three of us around a tree because there is no where else any of us wants to be right at that moment than together. Next year it could be different.
I called the boys to the table and served up the breakfast on the Christmas plates that someone had given us a few years after our wedding. Its lovely to have this ritual now, this simple way of celebrating life, despite what it threw us.
Next year may bring new challenges to navigate, new rituals, new dances. Truth it, despite every tradition faithfully executed, its always new. Each of us is always showing up new and that means new dances every time. And so while this Christmas morning was pure sweetness, I simply breathe and let go of any attachment to the fact that this is the way it is supposed to be.
After all there is no way it is supposed to be. There is only just the way that it is. There are ten thousand ways to be a family–joyously, painfully, brokenly, messily, lovingly a family. Every one of them is perfect.
Every glorious one.