It’s five minutes before I have to wake the kids and I don’t want to move too quickly because the dog will wake up and I want those five minutes desperately. I even tell my own bladder to get lost so I can have them. I can hear my son singing in the bathroom as he brushes his teeth and I pray that he finishes before my daughter wants the shower so that the day doesn’t begin with an argument. My boyfriend would normally be downstairs right now making coffee. But he’s not anymore.

The tension in our home has been building steadily for the past eight months. It’s no one’s fault, but it’s also not good for anyone. And while he and I are joined at the hip, content and in love, it’s not just us here. I am a mother of two, stepmom of one, girlfriend and human. When all the kids are with us, the first two take precedence. When it’s just us and my kids, it’s the first. And when it’s just us (good God, it’s almost never just us) then I can focus on the latter two. Our lives are busy and complicated and not always easy to navigate. Throw in some big emotions, anxiety and very different personalities and BAM!- baby, you’ve got a difficult stew goin’. (That’s for fans of Arrested Development and Carl Weathers.)

And so for now, my boyfriend will live apart from us some of the time.

Here’s what I can safely say (though still with a little bit of grief in my throat): I care more about how my life feels than how it looks.

There is so much noise out there that will tell me I’m not doing ANY of this right. I can’t listen to it. I am keenly aware that optically, this is not a recipe for a happily-ever-after. And right now I don’t have a response to that. All I know is that I love these four people with everything in me and this is the right thing for now. We’ve got to get back to basics. We’ve got to focus on love, empathy and what does work. We’ve got to heal.

So as I get out of bed, I pet my dog and assure him I will let him out in just a minute. I knock on the bathroom door and remind my son that his sister will need the shower soon. I gently open the door to the girls’ room and stroke my daughter’s cheek as I whisper: “Time to get up, baby.” Silently, I give thanks for this home and the people who live, love, fight, laugh and throw tantrums within it. And as I descend the stairs knowing my boyfriend won’t be waiting for me with a coffee, I let myself be sad. One day at a time, I whisper. One day at a time.



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