I'm sitting here exhausted and drained and emotionally strained and all I want to do is cry.
It's been one of those days.
This morning I said goodbye to some extended family on my dad's side that I met over the weekend. My grandmother has an aunt her age (my great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother were pregnant at the same time) and so she and her husband, their daughter, and their grandchildren came up to New Hampshire for an overdue visit, starting off on Saturday with joining the fun at a double birthday bash for my grandmother and uncle. Because I automatically drift to children, I quickly took my second cousins twice removed under my wing. Mia is 7 and Cooper is 4. After they arrived and we ate dinner, we ducked out of the crazy party scene to go down to the beach on the lake. Their giggles as they splashed in the water was as relieving as it was to have my feet out of my heels after standing for hours. It was wonderful. It's clear to me where they get their good graces and happy vibes from, my first cousin twice removed, their mum, Jen. That night we connected more as I played Go Fish and our own version of War with a Cribbage Board. Then we took the boat out and looked at the stars. (It happened to be the only clear night while we were here so I'm so glad we got out.)
I spent the next day with them swimming and taking them tubing and I can't even find the words to explain. As someone who grew up being pulled behind a boat, it's a joy to share the excitement with someone else. To lay on a tube with two kids for their first time and hear them laugh and giggle and shout "faster, faster!" and "wooooaaahhh!" as we bumped along the wake is such an experience. To be aware of the part that I'm playing in their life, as tubing is something that isn't easily forgotten, and to realize that I'm making a difference is something that can't be matched. After, Mia wanted to try the surfboard looking thing that's made to be stood upon and you take a paddle and like a gondolier, make your way through the water. It takes insane balance, but she was able to do it so easily. I got to help her by explaining the physics of paddling, how pushing the water one-two-three on the left then one-two-three on the right and one-two-three on the left and so on would help her go straight. It's one of those things that's so satisfying. And not to mention that night when we grabbed ahold of the last hour of sunlight and took a cruise around the lake with their mum and grandfather and my grandfather. When we had gotten about halfway around the lake, we came across two and a half loons... a mamma and papa and a baby! (See pictures here!) It's such a rare sight and I had to go back to the house to get my camera but again, it's basically a one-in-a-lifetime thing.
Monday was greeted with cloudy skies but the kids and I went swimming while my sister, grandmother and their mother and grandmother went shopping. The rain was looming, but we weren't afraid of a few drops when each jump into the lake sent hundreds more flying. When they were ready to go in and change into dry clothes, we played some more cards and snacked on some chips until I realized grazing turned into feeding, so we got out the leftover Mac and Cheese and turned it into dinner before we headed out for Moose hunting. The "Cool Car" became my dad and their mum (first cousins once removed) and I got to sit middle backseat in between two boosters. It was the greatest decision I could have made. We left around 4:30 and didn't get back home until 11:30. The laughter and the jokes and the singing and the "deer" (as Mia liked to "accidentally" call them) was such a reminder of what real life really is. There was crazy Minion collecting at some poor McDonalds in the middle of the mountains, and by the time that we did get home, I had both kiddos asleep on my shoulders. I couldn't stop myself from smiling.
So that brings me today, er yesterday as I write this. They left around noon, but I wasn't really up until 10:30 despite me fighting going back to sleep as early as 9. Needless to say, sleep won. I wish it hadn't though. But like all good things, the time with them had to come to an end but I know that I'll see them again at some point. I hope too much time doesn't go by, but family's family. You always find your way back to them.
Even if you're not blood related.
A few hours after they left, a couple friends of mine drove up to visit for the afternoon. I got to catch up with my childhood best friend and two other kids I went to elementary school with. When they got out of the car, it was an instant run to my best friend. With her, it's like we never miss a beat. We pick up right where we left off the last time we hung out. (Which so happens to be last April when I was in Boston with my Senior Class.) We had a great time walking around and swimming and catching up and talking about life; about traveling and the idea of the man we were going to marry and what we want out of life. I can't believe how fast the sun went down, but before I realized it I was hugging them all goodbye and the day slipped into the past.
When it comes to my place with all of my friends, I'm the listener. I'm the helper. I'm the problem-solver and shoulder to cry, or sleep, on. I know people depend on me to be there for them and honestly I don't mind. I'm just the kind of person who was made to take care of others. Spending time with the kiddos has made me realize that. Helping out some of my friends more so lately about life and relationships and what to do reminds me that. But in the same regard, I've had the conversation that I need to remember to step back and take care of myself. I need to make sure I'm alright and have my sanity if I'm ever going to help them find and/or keep theirs. I've been told that the world will move on without me if I let it. But I don't know... I know everyone will be fine but I don't know if I would be. I'm so used to taking care of people and helping that I don't know what to do without it. In those few hours in between the extended family leaving and the friends arriving I didn't know what to do. My days ended up so consumed with helping that I forgot what I did before. It's crazy. I've always knew I wanted to be a mother, but now I hope those days come sooner rather than later. I know I have to finish school and to find true love and to ride off into the sunset (if I'm lucky) and I want to enjoy the time that I have here and now, but I really do miss being around kids and the stories. I was Mia's age when I met Zoe, and despite moving and being separated for years and years, our friendship prevailed and I want to settle down where my kids can find that happiness as well. I think I'm just rambling at this point, I'm exhausted and the middle of summer has me tight and has engrossed me in it's late nights and sleep-in mornings.
I have to break that habit at some point.