One of the fun things about blending a family (well, fun for me anyways) is the looks I get in public when they see me out with all four kids. While Matt was meticulously scrutinizing weed whackers, I was parked with the cart a few feet away playing "pick up the sippy cup the baby keeps dropping and handing it back to her because I'm a dumbass" while Boozer told me jokes and Bucket and Bean pulled on the drawstrings of my skirt. The drawstrings had a purpose... I don't really have eyes in the back of my head, so by turning my skirt around and letting each of them have a string to hold, I know they are within the general vicinity and I don't actually have to look at them. The sweet older woman across the aisle who was observing the chaos smiled sweetly and said "They're so beautiful!" to which I gave an easy, "thanks!" and a smile. It took me awhile to get here though. The first few times I got a "They're all so well behaved!" or a "Wow that's a lot of kids!" I'd panic and say "oh they're not all mine!!" like I was going to offend Bean by accepting that he was a) well behaved or b) a child in my care. Now I just smile and thank them for whatever they said. I love it when my little flock attracts positive attention. While I usually have a little voice in my head saying "Seriously? This lady must be high." I also have a voice saying "what does *she* see that you don't see?" and I'm given an opportunity to appreciate what a gift I have surrounding me despite the chaos of having my skirt yanked down in the middle of Home Depot as I bend for the sippy cup at the same time Bean and Bucket decide to waterski with my skirt strings. These kids ARE beautiful and I get the joy of seeing that beauty grow every day.
The rest of the day was blissfully domestic and normal. One of us inside with the sleeping baby cleaning the kitchen and preparing dinner while the other one destroys the overgrown forest that is my yard. The kids checked almost everything off the "typical summer day" checklist: Found roly-poly bugs and made "habitats" in jars. Bucket's was full of flowers, Bean's was full of dirt. Pretty predictable. They chased down the ice cream truck with money from the Tooth Fairy. They rode bikes, played with sidewalk chalk, got sunburned, "helped" us in the yard and we capped it all off by filling up the kiddie pool and letting them loose. We grilled burgers and corn on the cob with my mom, made margaritas and ate outside on the deck in the beautiful Seattle sunlight. Days like today don't happen often for single parents... if ever. As a single parent, you learn quickly that you will only be able to get half of the things done while the kids are awake. The rest has to wait (or be skipped).
We are on the path towards big-happy-family and though it's still a few months off, when there are days that go swimmingly, we take it as a sign that we're doing it right and the kids are adjusting well. It is never easy when bedtime rolls around and Matt and Bean have to pack up and head to their house, but we know that the kids aren't quite ready for full time family-hood. I know our patience will be worth it when we merge with the confidence of having followed the pace set by our kids and letting them know through our actions that they are important, stable and loved.