And then, there are homemade pancakes.
There are times when Brandon is crying to his father, asking when everything is going to go back to normal, when mom is going to move back into the blue house.
There are times Brandon gets disobedient behavior colors at school.
There has been a time at school drop off when Brandon started crying and then I started crying too and his Kindergarten teacher came and wrenched him from my arms and said he could lead the class with her and made him happy and I walked back to my car with the cold wind freezing my tears onto my face, wishing someone would calm me down and make me happy.
We have been upended.
And then, Brandon falls asleep in my arms and his body is warm and his head leaves a sweat mark on my shirt and I smile and lie down in my bed alone with a book and I realize not everything has changed and I can totally do this, I am a strong independent woman.
There are times like today when the boys put on gloves and pretend to be trash men and then they rescue their stuffed animals who they call pets and they are so alive and vibrant and even if they're sad, I know they can pull themselves out of it.
There are times when I sit at my computer, crying into my coffee and Holden says, "I'll make you better" and brings me a blanket and kisses me on the cheek and I think, god damn it, kids really can do everything. They help us, ground us, heal us, fix us, make us realize the length of our problems Our problems are only as wide as we let them stretch.
But there are times when I open my new garage door and Holden, from the back seat, sighs and says, "home sweet home."
There are times when Brandon takes long showers at my apartment and marvels at the water pressure, how perfect it is, and I record him singing so I can remember that despite what people tell me, that I've ruined our family and destroyed my children, the kids are alright.
But not ended.
There is a difference.
There are times I make us my favorite childhood comfort foods for dinner. There are times we eat endless breadsticks at Fazoli's. There are times we eat cereal. There are times we share a bag of Doritos and watch a movie in my bed.
We are feeding ourselves in the ways we know how, as imperfectly as that is.
Still: we are still feeding ourselves.
In this new life so precariously perched in two separate places, we are finding the path that connects them.
I am writing again. Running. Finding my balance.
The boys are doing puzzles and reading library books and sleeping in their new bunk beds.
Keeping their balance.
I am alright, or I will be. The kids are alright, or they will be. Just a little upended for now.