This morning I watched Luca, Franny, and her friend Hermoine, at our house after a sleepover, as they ran around couches and looked behind throw pillows, searching for chocolate-filled eggs I had hidden the night before. That Luca’s first weekend back with me since my epic parenting fail should coincide with Easter, the symbol of rebirth, of shattered pieces made whole, and better, seemed miraculously appropriate.
* * *
I picked up Franny and Luca on Thursday when they returned after a spring break ski trip with their dad. I didn’t know what to expect from Luca. The last time I’d seen him, a week earlier at Franny’s school performance, he averted my gaze, finally offering me a chilly “see you around.”
So I was surprised when he smiled at me, then loaded his remote control planes in the trunk of my car.
When we got home, I sat the kids down in the living room for a family meeting.
“Are we in trouble?” Franny asked, the question she always asks when it’s family meeting time.
“No,” I said. “No one’s in trouble.”
The kids stared at me, waiting. I took a deep breath.
“I owe you both an apology,” I said. “I made a mistake. Sometimes parents make mistakes. The way I told you that Atticus and I were actually getting divorced was wrong. I didn’t think you would be upset, which was naive on my part. And I never should have gone away that weekend, right after telling you. I should have stayed to make sure you were okay.”
Neither of them said anything, although I could see their shoulders relax.
“And I never should have told you I was dating someone. There was no reason you needed to know that. So from now on, my personal life happens on the weekends you’re not here. When you’re here, it’s just the three of us.”
Luca looked at me.
“And I have no plans to get remarried.”
I waited for something momentous: tears, recriminations, a crossed-arms rejection of my apology. But nothing except for silence.
“Well…” I said, staring down both my kids. “Any questions? Concerns? Comments?”
Luca smiled at me.
“Solid,” he said.
“Solid,” he nodded.
I glanced over at Franny, who shot me a hopeful grin.
“Can I have your wedding ring?”
* * *
That night I helped Luca edit his essay for English class. We sat at the dining room table in front of his laptop. I ran over the piece with my writer’s fine-tooth-comb, explaining how to create symmetry in his sentence structure, where to break up long passages of interview quotes, and why the capitalization of certain terms needed to be consistent throughout the essay.
It was the first time in years that I had helped Luca with his homework. It was such a mundane task, I thought, but one that has been the glue for generations of parents and children.
* * *
As I write this, Luca is sprawled on the couch with his iPad mini, crumpled foil wrappers from scarfed-down chocolate eggs on the coffee table beside him.
What fell apart came back together. Perhaps better, and more meaningful, than if they’d never fallen apart at all.
Today, I’m thankful for coming together after falling apart.