Random side note: I started to just call this post “the new normal,” then realized I already had a post with that title, written a few months after my separation, and about a month after moving into the rental house I currently live in. Even though that was less than two years ago, it’s a bit surreal to go back and read blog posts from that point in my life.
It’s strange how quickly life can shift and you can fall into a new routine. Over the past few months, Chris has become such a part of my daily life, and the transition has felt completely natural.
On the evenings he comes over, he walks in the door and the girls run to give him hugs. Lucy is particularly attached to him. She can’t say his name quite right – she calls him Tiss instead of Chris – but she wants him to carry her everywhere, she’ll snuggle up to him with her face in his neck, and she’ll put her hands on his face and say, “You MY Tiss.” (She does the same with me – “you MY mama,” and my dad gets a, “you MY Pop-Pop,” etc. It’s basically her way of saying “I love you” in Lucy-speak.)
He keeps Lucy distracted for me while I help Catie with her homework, and he does the dishes and cleans up while I give the girls their bath. Lucy always wants me to snuggle with her at bedtime, so Catie will ask Chris to come snuggle with her, and I’ll hear them across the room in her bed, whispering about video games or dinosaurs or whatever as I get Lucy settled to sleep.
When he sleeps over, he helps me get the kids ready in the morning by getting Lucy dressed, brushing out her hair, and getting her shoes on.
A lot of times on the weekends (like this past Sunday), we take the girls to IHOP for breakfast.
We even have our little IHOP routine down: Catie gets her create-a-face pancake (no bananas, extra strawberries), Chris gets a chicken fajita omelet, and I order too much for myself and share with Lucy because she can’t eat a whole kid’s entree by herself. I take Lucy to use the potty before the food comes, because it keeps her distracted so she doesn’t get grumpy in the restaurant. It’s like a drill that we have down pat.
And it’s totally easy and everything just sort of falls into place. People see us and just assume that we’re a normal couple with 2 kids. Unless they check our left ring fingers, I suppose.
Having Chris around so much makes my life easier in so many ways, and for that, I am so incredibly grateful.
It’s also incredibly scary, because it makes me feel so much more invested in our relationship. Before, my only concern was about my own heart getting broken if things didn’t work out with us. But now, I also have to worry about Catie and Lucy too. They really have gotten attached to Chris, and I love that they love him. But they’ve already lost one father figure (ok, Dave is still around, but he’s 3000 miles away, so… yeah), and while Chris is not their dad or even a step-dad (and won’t be, since I’m still firmly in the I-will-never-get-remarried** camp), I love that he’s a positive male influence in their lives, and I don’t want them to lose that.
But then, maybe it’s a good thing that it scares me. Maybe it’s a good motivator to do the work to make sure our relationship stays healthy and strong, to make sure we keep communicating well, and that we don’t take each other for granted.
Because honestly? I really love where we are right now, and I don’t want it to change.
Even when Lucy clocks me in the eye right as I take a picture.
** About the not-getting-remarried-ever thing: a lot of people have mentioned this to me, because it seems like a lot of y’all want me to get remarried. And I kind of get that. But there are a couple of factors here: one, that my own personal experience with marriage is that it pretty much sucks. And two, I have to consider how something like that would affect my kids. My rule for now is that marriage is not for me, but I reserve the right to change my mind when I’m 53 years old. Which is how old I’ll be when Lucy turns 18. So for all of y’all who want to see me get married again: ask me about it in 2029. Until then, no thanks.