Roughly 3 year ago, as my oldest finished 6th grade here in Anguilla, I made the excruciating decision to send both boys to middle school in Dallas and live with their Dad. The two of you paying attention (hi Mom!) may have noticed that this corresponds directly with the roughly 3 year gap between posts here, but never mind that.
Before the boys left, we had spent years defining and refining our roles and responsibilities in this family, in this place. There are no conveniences here in Anguilla, no dishwasher, no fast food, no clothes dryer and with just me, the four kids and a full time job, all that inconvenience got divvied up as chores. Everyone simply had to try just a little bit harder.
Eventually, everyone found their place and their role. It was loads of hard work but everyone in this house was needed, which is what likely never made any of the kids complain.
They learned ways to delegate, organize and come up with new systems of doing things. They learned how to be observant and “read” moods, be more in tune and work with adjusting their force and timing. They invented games, helped each other with homework and anything in between. There were lots of clashes along the way but it was truly impressive to sit and watch the four of them work and play together effortlessly, like a well oiled machine.
And then, when the boys left, that whole thing sputtered and fell apart.
It broke my heart.
It broke our hearts.
Those two missing links instantly turned our previously smooth life into some exhausting, heavy and disabling thing. Not impossible to cope with, but what I imagine it to be like to have your left arm cut off. Everything was difficult and wrong and insufficient and we struggled for a while to draw a new circle and form a newly functioning, downsized family identity.
For the past 3 years, the boys have come to Anguilla only twice a year and it’s been utterly fascinating to watch what happens within minutes of their arrival each time. After the hug fest and dog pile is over, everyone gets quiet for a bit… and then goes on just like before.
It’s barely noticeable to the naked eye but it’s like suddenly, everyone remembers their place again, the formation. Like magnets clicking together with that tiny “clank” sound. Everyone is a little bit more whole again. A little bit more needed and secure again. A little bit taller and stronger.
In the boys own words: “Being here gives us something to bond over. It makes us want to be better people, better role models to the girls, more helpful to you.”
The boys are here now, until the end of the Summer and the vote we took is unanimous – it’s time to find a new home for all of us, together.