We spent almost two weeks with my mom and stepdad, but the last two nights, we've been back at our house.
Slowly but surely, the damage from the burst pipe is getting taken care of and sorted out. What happened with the pipe was a fluke, not related to the cold weather as I had initially assumed. It was just one of those things that happened, a failed clamp on the sink in the attic bathroom. The fans have been running for close to two weeks now, and the upstairs and basement are dry. My room is getting there. The baseboards have been ripped off, holes have been drilled into the walls, and the industrial fans churn away, day and night.
Still remaining to be done are the replacement of some wiring, refinishing of the floors, replacement of the upstairs bathroom flooring, and painting in my room. It seems that no contractors are available to do the work this week, it being Christmas week and all, so we're in a lull right now. We'll have to move back out when that work is done, but it's nice to be home for the moment.
We had fun staying with my parents. It was nice for me to have help in the evening and company after the kids went to bed. But going back and forth between two houses was wearing, and the commute from my parents' to preschool to work and back was exhausting.
It's always strange to be back home, to be an adult in your parents' house. My family manages that tug-of-war pretty well, but it gets complicated because I have a stepbrother who has three kids, one a new baby, and a wife who has a challenging personality. They live locally and they have their issues, and they don't have much of a support network outside my mom and stepdad. It's a struggle for me—for all of us, I think—not to get caught in a tit-for-tat tally of how much has been done for me and the twins v. how much has been done for my stepbrother's family, how much I have suffered v. how much they have suffered, who is more deserving, who is more demanding, who is more needy.
I try to be respectful of my mom and stepdad's time. I want to spend as much—more!—time with them socially than I do in some kind of babysitting/service capacity. I want us to just enjoy time together, although I know they are happy to help me when I need help and that being able to recieve that help is one of the reasons that I wanted to be closer to family. But it's hard to keep everyone's feelings in line. Maybe I worry about it too much, but a couple of weeks of walking that line was enough, and for that reason perhaps more than any other, I needed to get back to my own space.
This week, the kids are on vacation from preschool and the nanny will come to our house every day. Heaven. Maddie and Riley don't have to get dressed in the morning, they can eat breakfast when they want, the lunch has to be planned but not packed. Those things make for a small, but significant break for me.
We'll spend a couple of nights with my parents to celebrate Christmas. John was vehemently opposed to idea of Santa, as well as to the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy. I'm not sure how he planned to handle it with the kids, but I know he didn't believe in propogating the idea of any of the Triumverate.
I am 100% Santa-neutral, so I would have been willing and happy to let John take the lead on that. Christmas is not a religious holiday for me, and the overcommercial side really bothers me, so I struggle with how to celebrate in a way that is fun for the kids, minimal on the gifting, and not too heavy on the Jesus. I like celebrating being together, for sure, but it's hard not to get pulled into the fray.
It's especaially hard this year because the kids get it. They must have heard about Santa at school because I have neither talked about him nor not talked about him; when we've seen Santa images around, I've said that it's Santa when asked, but I haven't explained who he is or what he does. But yet, somehow, Maddie is especially aware. She has a keen interest in writing him letters and in paying him a visit (although she was not aware that most often, kids pay him a visit to ask him for a specific gift). Riley is not into it. Neither of them know about the reindeer. Maddie insists that he is "a real man," and that any Santas she sees are people dressed like the real guy, not the real guy himself. It's interesting to me to watch her develop her own concept, and I find myself loathe to dispel it, preferring to let her create what is meaningful to her. If that means signing Santa's name to a gift tag, I find that I'm OK with that. I'm pretty sure he's bringing her a scooter, if I ever find time to get to the store, that is.