I remember when Steve and I bought our second house, one of the first things I did was paint the living room from white to a nice soothing green. I loved it. We had nice big Oak trees out front and a nice big windows in the livingroom and it made the room feel like an extension of the outside. My then, just turned two year old, threw a fit. For two years he talked about my painting that room like I had broken his heart.
The Ochs always joked “the Smiths dont like change”. And we don’t.
We like tradition. We like rituals. We like vacationing in the same area again and again because we know it, and we like that. Its not that we are opposed to new things, but we like the sense of “coming back” to things. We tend to stop at the same gas stations on road trips. We like familiar. The holidays all have their own set of traditions. I didnt realize how much that was a part of us until Chris and I met and the Ochs had so very few.
So the 4th doesnt have a hard set routine. We have mixed it up a bit as you tend to do with blended families. The 4th was one of the holidays I let Steve take the reign on as its more about exploding things than anything with my kids and all that always made me nervous. As Steves back declined I took it back and Chris handled the exploding of things and I nervously patrolled 4 boys and made sure no one lost a digit and Tay and I did sparklers and fountains.
So yesterday. Chase was invited to a buddys uncles house for a big family 4th hoopla. Taylor got stuck working till midnight. So it was Harrison and I and one of his buddies for the fireworks. And all day I was just sad. I’m used to having a big family around me and the chaos of that. I kept trying to psyche myself up. And kept ending up napping. I finally drug myself out of bed. Took the boys to Phantom Fireworks. Promptly had an anxiety attack (what is it ABOUT that place?!) and headed over to IPFW.
As I laid there on my blanket watching all of the families I went through a whole host of emotions. I was missing my kids. Missing Taylor telling the boys what to do. Missing the boys all jacking around wrestling and running around and not eating the snacks I brought. Missing having my partner there with me.
I engaged in a decent amount of self talk. Change is ok. I wasn’t stressed. I wasn’t aggravated. Which having 7 people navigate the holidays can sometimes bring on. I watched couples snip at each other and yell at their kids. I didnt have that either. So I stared at the sky and took stock of what I was thankful for. My son who hates change was at a large family gathering with a bunch of people he didnt know. Thankful he can push himself out of his comfort zone sometimes and do that. He couldnt always.
Thankful my daughter has a strong work ethic and a good boyfriend who brought her sparklers since she had to miss the fireworks.
Thankful my youngest is a roll with it type of kid. Who accepts everything as it comes and in a sea of boys playing ball around us, had a friend with him who was happy just climbing trees.
And while I didnt have a lap to lay my head in to watch the exploding colors, as so many years I haven’t, I did have the realization that I’ve spent more holidays solo than i have partnered and I’m just fine.
Chase ended up coming home instead of staying the night away, and we blew things up and watched the fountains and I jumped in and lit things for him to sling-shot across the street instead of being the parent that says “i dont think thats a great idea”. Because sometimes you just have to be the parent who lets your kid do that and when you play both parents sometimes that is your role.
In a few short years all of my kids will be off doing their own things on the 4th. And all the grown up parties that its seems most of my friends participate in, I’ll be eligible for again. And that will be fun too. In the meantime, I’ll try harder to embrace the change that is inevitable each holiday, as the kids grow older and life moves on.