The twins turned 6 this past week and for the first time I was not with them on their actual birthday. Although we had a lovely birthday weekend last week that included some great progress for Daniel and lots of smiles, it was a bit of a trial to not be with them on the day they turned 6.
When they turned 5, which was just a few months after the separation with their mother occurred, they were with me on a regular visitation day. I invited their mom to have cake with us, so we were all able to say we spent their birthday together. It certainly made my very talkative daughter, Rachel, say how happy she was we were celebrating together.
At times like this, I feel deep sadness and, yes, anger that their mother made the decision to move away. Although I agreed with it and then had regrets about the move, especially once we were able to convince the school board to offer Daniel a spot in an asd-specific class. In fact, I did everything I could to block the move at that point. I recall a meeting with school board officials where one staff person talked about how even changing schools would be a challenging transition for Daniel. I became even more convinced that the move was a bad idea when Daniel was offered an IBI spot in Hamilton before the end of June.
I also have to admit that feel anger at myself for having agreed to the move and that I let my kids down.
I often think about a conversation with my own father that makes me think about this situation. In our last conversation, he talked about having a job that kept him away from us as kids. As a long-haul trucker who drove into the States, he was gone for days. In that last discussion we had, he said he wished he had taken some other work to spend more time with us. I mention this talk a lot because it has left such a deep impression on me, not least because just shortly after that he died.
The memory is potent also because I had never talked to him about he and mom became separated and he shared some of that, along with his regret.
When the twins were born, I stayed home with them for 8 months on parental leave. It was always a part of the plan that I would stay home because I had done it with my older daughter. I talked often about wanting to work from home when they started elementary school. When Daniel was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, it became my mission to find a way to be home with him so that I could take him to IBI, not knowing how long that would take to start. As for Rachel, I could see in my imagination that she would be smiling and talking at the table after school while having a snack. In short, I saw only happy things associated with being home with the twins.
But life changes, people move on and dreams get a little touch-up.
Which brings us to last weekend. The 3 of us had a lovely birthday weekend. The indoor play gym and going to a movie were the big items that we can point to. There were also the little moments that I noticed and maybe they didn’t. Daniel’s new words or sitting through most of a movie or Rachel and I going to visit a friend to water her garden. The weekend ended with tears and reluctance to leave which will happen, but the ending brought me back to earth about how challenging this stage of our marathon is.
But like my father, I covered up my sadness. Although we often are not as close to people as we want, I know that that I am involved with them and present for them. I can take some solace in that and we’ll just make the best of it.