Thursday, May 5, 2011

We are Still a Family. We Won't Be the Same, but We'll Be Fine

While we were getting ready to go this morning my daughter was watching the family channel. Full House was on. It's amazing how the shows we watched are catching on to our children in syndication. For anyone who may not have heard of it as it was popular in a previous decade, Danny is a widowed father of 3 young girls DJ, Stephanie and Michelle. They live in California in a home they share with Danny's brother-in-law Jesse and Danny's college friend Joey. The three men are raising the girls together. When the show first aired, DJ appeared to be around 9 or 10 years-old, Stephanie was 5 and Michelle was 9 months old.

Anyway, it happened to be the episode a few years into the series where Michelle (now a kindergartner) tries to match Danny up with her teacher because she wants a new mommy. One of her little friends (TJ) tells her everyone should have a mommy and since she didn't, that her daddy needed a lady to fall in love with and marry. So Michelle (unknown to Danny and her teacher) set up a lunch date to get them together.

When her plan is revealed, Danny tells Michelle that there's no chance he and his teacher will fall in love and Michelle runs off to her room heartbroken. Danny assures her that she had a mother who loved her very much. Then he has the "there are all different kinds of families" talk with her and they work through it as these sitcoms often do. When it ends, Michelle is suggesting another lady for her father, but all is right in her world. We were late getting out of the house staying to see the end. I looked at Ariana and asked her if that looked familiar. She said "You and me," as we have on occasion had the "there are all different kinds of families," talk. She gave me a hug.

Then I looked at her brother. Elijah is the Michelle in our family. She was an infant and has no personal memories of her mother. Elijah was 2 months old when his father died. I noted that this issue was coming up as Michelle entered school and I remembered how I'm dreading that point in time when Elijah realizes something is amiss. I fear sometimes it will be like losing their dad all over again. I’m attempting to strengthen my faith in my own words. We are still a family. We won't be the same, and we'll always miss and remember daddy, but we'll be fine as long as we stick together here, work as a team and love each other.

I'm reminded of the name of a chapter in a book I'm trying to read, "Single Parenting that Works" by Kevin Lehman. He says, "You can't do it all, but you can do what is important." In the long run, that is what I want my children to see that I did. Children in two parent homes don't all get to do and have everything that they want and I know I cannot do the work of two people in every single area of our lives. And I can't change the fact that their father died. But I'm fortunate in that Thomas and I discussed at length the important things we wanted to do for any child(ren) we had. And even though he isn't here, I can follow the basic plan.

He left us surrounded by people who love us, loved him and are well aware of who he was and what path he'd want his children to follow. All four of his children can walk the path he laid out and not go wrong. That is a real blessing for them. Those of us still here to love them can give them the constant assurance that they are important and the constant assurance they are great despite what's happened and that they can be great in their future. My stepchildren's mother will no doubt stand with them as they go forward. And I'm still here too. I can stand beside Ariana and Elijah in their endeavors and adventures and while there is no doubt we'll feel Thomas' absence, when those important things happen, I can say, "These are the plans your daddy and I made for you. He is still our hearts and he would be so proud."

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