Super Mom and I built a play set in the backyard of our first home several years back. It was, for us at least, a massive undertaking. I’d say it was comparable to the construction of the Panama Canal except the fact that there were fewer workers, no one was killed in the making of the play set and it took a lot less time.
While building that play set we realized that there were a lot of missing pieces. Some of those pieces were essential to the overall function and long term sustainability of the whole. Rather than tearing it all down and starting from scratch, we jury rigged it together with what we had, hoping that it would still hold and provide our sons with a bit of entertainment.
For a short time it appeared that it was going to survive the rigors of little hands and feet climbing, swinging, tinkering and smashing it to bits. But in time it became obvious that our feeble attempt at ‘making-do’ with what we had was rapidly deteriorating into something of an eyesore.
Today I went to lunch with my two brothers. We have lunch at least once a month to catch up and get a feel for what’s in store for the upcoming months. Often, our conversations touch on subjects that in the past we’ve brushed over, unwilling to broach sensitive topics for fear that it may expose old wounds that have just barely scabbed over. We fear at times that, like that poorly constructed play set, there are essential parts or members of our family that are missing, causing a general feeling of unrest and uncertainty for our family in the future.
I’ve struggled more today with Super Mom’s absence than I have in the first few days that she left to train for her new job. I think it’s because this morning I dropped off No. 4 at a nearby elementary school for a week long summer school camp. As I drove away I felt like I had just left a piece of me. It was the worst feeling I’d ever felt in a long time. I felt like an essential part of me, of my family had been discarded, never to be recovered.
It’s not true of course. In four long days my son will (better) return to me intact, his big hazel eyes brimming with tears, eager to give me the play-by-play of this week’s adventures. One day soon, Super Mom will be back home, running her house with efficiency and with a touch of love that only a mother can provide. And then, the hollow pit in my stomach, that endless nagging of uncertainty will be sated because my family will be whole again.
In the grand scheme of things I realize that whether its my extended family or my immediate family with Super Mom, we are all essential. If just one piece is missing, nothing functions properly. And unlike that gnarly old play set I’ve made a promise to myself and the people I love most, that there will be no missing pieces.