I don’t like to write when things are going badly these days but this minute, this very minute, it feels as if we’re finally in a cozy and safe place. I can’t remember ever feeling this grounded. Never before have I felt absolute confidence in who is surrounding us. Never before have I had such hope.
I had wished for a fairy godmother for all of us and we found Terry. So he’s a godfather. It’s just as good. He’s the now retired minister from the UU church where I have a tiny part-time job. My kids adored him from the second they laid eyes on him, and I have as well. He’s generous and kind. He’s thoughtful and chatty. Most of all, he’s incredibly silly and fun. He comes over for dinner and afterwards my kids snuggle against him for movie night.
We lost our in-home therapist a while back. Though we were in a good place as a family, I missed the support for myself. If I’m good they’re good and I need reminders. I called to ask if it were possible to get someone new and a few months later two young women were assigned to us; a lead and one in training. They’re half my age and don’t yet have children of their own but no matter. The one in training is quiet so I don’t know her yet but the lead is whip smart. We took to her immediately. They have ideas and techniques to slowly draw a child out and they have subtle ways of helping us with self-esteem without being preachy or annoying. They’ll hang out with any combination of us every Tuesday night; we can all wander in and out as we please. On Mondays they’ll come to me. I asked what on earth our diagnosis is to have insurance cover all of this. Nothing, she said. “You just need support.”
Ralphie has had a Big Brother for a few months now. He’s quiet and maybe a little scared of me (he’s often late and I may have come across as overly fierce about that) but Ralphie enjoys their time together tremendously. They’ve gone to see the Red Sox, spent an afternoon at the Museum of Science, gone out to kick a soccer ball around and today they’re headed to the Museum of Fine Arts. They always get pizza and ice cream.
Violet’s Big Sister match came through two weeks ago and today they’re on their first outing. We all had to endure a long and boring pledge-giving, read aloud introduction with the match coordinator in the evening after a long day of camp and Violet retreated to her room mid-meeting. She wanted someone younger, she said, but I reminded her that she specifically asked for someone my age. I coaxed her out and once we were done with the signing, reading and discussing, M and V headed outside for ten minutes to plan their first day together. They both came back with radiant smiles. “Violet is FAST!” said M. Violet had challenged her to a race and had won. This morning when M arrived I had been sitting on the porch and Violet was still upstairs. M told me when they went downstairs after the meeting Violet had wanted to show her something. Violet had stuffed a whole lot of purple blossoms from our butterfly bush up her nose. Once M was watching, she exhaled and pushed them all out. M had thought it was hysterical. I would have talked about the dangers of breathing one in. Aspirating. I go too far. I am boring.
M is calm, patient, and soft-spoken. She’s sporty. She gardens. I am lazy, out-spoken and not always calm. Our raised bed is currently a sea of weeds with a few onions that reseeded themselves from last year’s crop that never grew. Violet loves to plant and they are spending the afternoon in M’s two public garden plots. She just sent me photographs of Violet digging and watering and then sitting at an outdoor cafe in front of a lovely bowl of ice cream.
I’ve waited for two years for a large portrait commission to come through. Once I had thoroughly given up on it happening it did. I am making individual portraits of +/- 100 people at a large prestigious medical school. The people I photograph will come from all walks of life and will encompass all professions from security guards to surgeons. I spent three days photographing about a third of them a few weeks ago, accompanied by two of the women who are facilitating the project. I didn’t have an assistant and I have a bum shoulder so they helped me lug my equipment from the garage to the room we were using. We made a good team. It was fabulous to have the camaraderie I don’t get working alone. “You’re so good with them!” they said. “You’re nice to everyone.” I am, mostly. The third day another woman working on this project, one who had been a little chilly during our first meeting, came by for a few hours. She said, over and over, how happy she was to be witnessing the day. She gave me a giant hug when we were done.
I haven’t felt like my best self in ages and I had forgotten there was such a person. Those three days reminded me that I am much more than an under-employed artist and perhaps the world’s worst admin. I’m also more than a mom. It feels good and it’s just what I needed. They’re loving the portraits I’ve done so far.
Our house threw up on itself again but we are slowly teasing out our separate spaces. Violet’s own room is complete as of yesterday, just in time for their ninth birthday next week. Ralphie will have to endure my bed in what will be his room while mine is built. He’s a good sport about it. It’s enough to have a door to close now and again. The zero-season porch (freezing in the winter and scorching in the heat) will become my room. It will be a cozy little space big enough for a bed and bureau. I don’t need more than that.
Lily is by my side sleeping on the mail. The house is quiet. I am done writing and will start to clean. My kids will be home soon.