It Feels Like Family

I am feeling the urge to cook today. Chili, soup, cookies…warm, homey, comfort foods. And while I do enjoy cooking in general, I know what that drive is about. I’m feeling alone, and cooking, even for no one in particular, seems to fill that void. At least for a little while.

I really wish I got the urge to clean and organize when I’m feeling lonely. My house could certainly use it. And it would be better for my waistline too. But it doesn’t work that way. Cooking is something I do for others and it makes me feel good…it’s one of the ways I show love. I know I could just resist the urge to cook. But then I’d have to feel those pangs of loneliness, those thoughts of missing the family I thought I’d have, and today I just don’t want to.

Often what I miss about my last relationship is it gave me something I’d never had before. In the 15 years I’d been married, it rarely felt the way I thought it was going to feel to be married and have children. To have a family of my own. Sitting down to family dinners and enjoying each other’s company. Going on vacations together. Just doing chores or running errands together. Fun. Light. Easy. But that’s not the way it was. Our lives were very separate. He did his thing, and I did mine. And I don’t know I really realized what was missing until I experienced something so different.

In my last relationship, being together felt the way I always imagined being a family would feel. We did things together. Not because we had to. But because we genuinely enjoyed being together. We had family movie night where we all snuggled on the couch to watch a movie together. We did things together like grocery shopping and running errands. We went to the park, bowling, ice skating. When I was married, I did those things too. But not as a family. Either by myself or with my kids. It was a rare occasion for the four of us to do things together. And even though I love doing things with my kids, I think I always felt a little alone.

When I was married to my ex, we didn’t take family vacations. In fact, in the 15 years we were married I can remember taking three ‘vacations’ together. A long weekend in Tahoe for his best friend’s wife’s birthday; a trip to California for his brother’s wedding; and a camping trip with friends at Lake Chelan. Those three trips were orchestrated by someone else. I’ve often thought if any of them had been my idea, we wouldn’t have gone. I rarely got the feeling he enjoyed spending time together…being a family.

One of the first things we did in my last relationship was a road trip to Disneyworld with his two daughters, then 5 and not quite 7. It’s been said you can learn a lot about a person on a road trip. I would agree with that. And though Disneyworld was technically our first date, it was also the first time I realized it was possible to work so well together. Everything just clicked. We each brought our own individual strengths. Taking care of things in our own ways. But in a way that came together to completely…so perfectly…without us ever having talked about it.

A similar thing happened when we got home from Hershey Park after his niece’s wedding. We dropped the girls off with their mom and there was alot to do to get ready for the week ahead. Without anyone telling the other what to do, we just did it. We jumped in and got things done. It was easy. Flawless really. I think it surprised him as much as it did me. Doing chores or projects with my ex-husband was neither flawless nor easy. It was a whole lot of him barking orders, and me and the kids doing the work…his way.

Of course, like anything, that last relationship wasn’t all puppy dogs and roses. I often worried about how my kids would fit into this new family picture. They are older and either don’t need taking care of, or don’t especially want to spend time with parent types or little girls. And they certainly weren’t excited about any sort of ‘father figure’ coming into their lives. I wasn’t expecting that him to step into their lives that way. But I was hoping at some point there would be mutual respect. And, hopefully, friendship. That’s all I could really ask for at this point.

For the last almost 10 years my boys and I have formed our own kind of family. And I have loved that. Your kids are your family. And over the years, we had all gotten used to it just being the three of us. But you can never have the same relationship with your children as you do with a partner. So, even though the relationship only lasted a little over a year, now it feels lonely at times that it’s just me and the boys again. It’s not because my kids aren’t good company…they are. They’re both interesting and funny and I love them to pieces. I would never trade this time we’ve had together. But they can’t, and shouldn’t be expected to, fill that hole in my heart.

I know my youngest son especially thinks we’re fine just the way we are. He’s a teenager afterall. He doesn’t want anything to upset the applecart. And I might have agreed with that two years ago. Before experiencing anything else. Before finding such an amazing love. But now I feel differently. Now I know there could be something more. Something deeper. Funny how you don’t even realize there’s something missing until it lands in your lap!

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