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November 2019
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Dance of Family

It was the quiet part of the morning when I was the only one awake. The thoughts in my brain had finally shaken themselves into an order where I could commit them to words, so I sat down to write. I don’t have a private space where I can retreat to write. I share my bedroom with my husband Howard and due to some family shifts, my office is currently also my youngest son’s bedroom. So I sit on the couch in the front room, which works fine in the morning before everyone else is awake, or later in the day when everyone is occupied with their own things.

The words were flowing when my 18yo came to the top of the stairs across from me and sat down. They were hugging a teddy bear tight, which is a behavior that screams “I’m stressed.” Within a minute I’d coaxed them to sit across from me on the couch to talk. They were worried about their upcoming volunteer shift. The first one they had to do and it was triggering a massive anxiety attack. We’d only begun to tease apart the emotions when Howard wandered down as well. He volunteered to make a smoothie for our child. The child made a choice about how to handle the shift. They got off the couch and headed out into their day.

The space on the couch was vacant for only a few minutes before my older son plunked himself into it to talk to me. He was happy after having a discouraging day the day before. I was glad to hear about his happy things. While we were still talking, my oldest daughter wandered into the room to give me a hug. I suspect if the couch had not already been occupied, she would have taken the space and talked to me for a bit.

It was like a maypole dance. I could almost see the ribbons of connections as my people moved around each other and around me. Howard made smoothies and breakfast for more people. I occasionally typed some words in and around the conversations. I remembered how the day before my youngest son had planted himself on the same couch spot to talk to me. This is family when it is functioning well. It was so quiet and non-eventful. Yet beautiful.

Right now all of my children live under my roof. Including the son-in-law-to-be who spends 90% of his free time here. Things will change again in January when the young couple will move out into their own spaces. It is an important step in their lives, and it will be nice on our end to move my youngest out of my office and into the room that used to be hers. But for now we have this special space where everyone is together and enjoying each other’s company. It is nice to have that again after years of kids living away from home and mental health turmoil.

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