Last night we took the teen out for her last dinner here with us in Florida. We are sending her home early because we don’t want her to miss too much school. Luckily, my husband’s mother is able to stay with her until we get back.
We knew we were on borrowed time before we left for dinner. The little man was on a bit of a nap strike despite having an exhausting morning at the local library story time and a playground with a water park. You know how it is, a quickie 5-minute nap on the way home and the opportunity for a proper nap is gone forever. I was able to get him down twice for about a half hour, but he just played and talked and wouldn’t go to sleep.
My husband was on the brink of leaving him home because going out to eat with a cranky, overtired child is not his idea of a good time. But, sentimental lady that I am, I insisted that we were not going to let his crankiness stop us from going out for dinner on the teen’s last night. Plus, we are clearly suckers for punishment.
We piled into the booth at the Mexican restaurant in our usual places, my preschool daughter on my left and my husband and his daughter facing us, with the little man in a high chair between us. The chips and salsa kept him reasonably occupied for a bit, then he started whining and playing with everything he could get his hands on. In between, we managed to hold some fragmented conversations and have a couple sips of our margaritas.
Towards the end of dinner, I asked the teen how she feels about going home and I was thoroughly taken back by her response. As she started to talk, both my husband and I interjected with our ideas of why she wouldn’t want to go home… back to the cold? The end of vacation?
But no. Her voice broke as she told us, “I’ll miss you guys.”
And my heart was about to explode. She’ll miss us? She’ll miss all the crazy family times. Despite the children throwing their tantrums. Despite us losing our patience. Despite not being able to do all the things on her bucket list because we have littles in tow.
The truth is I am always worried that she doesn’t really like life with us. I find myself wanting to apologize for how “not fun” we are anymore. Or, for not being able to give her our undivided attention very often. Or, for the fact that we are pretty tired these days. Or, for the fact that she has to endure the stressful parts of raising young children along with us.
And then she says a sweet thing like this that makes my heart skip a beat. And I realize that it’s probably not as bad for her as I imagine it. She loves us, and she loves the kids. She chose us. And she still continues to choose us.
And it doesn’t get much better than that.