"How was it?" I asked. "What movie did you guys watch?
"It was good Mom. We watched Princess Bride and everyone knew most of the lines. I didn't but it was still fun. We played some games and ate lots of junk food." She looked down and picked at her jeans. "Everyone loved the marshmallow treats. Thanks for doing that for me."
"No problem sweetie. So who was there?"
She looked up a little exasperated, "No one you know Mom."
"I know Jonathan." I didn't want the conversation to end. I wanted to know more.
"Mommmmm," she said as she blew out a big breath. "Of course Jonathan was there, it was his party."
"Okay, tell me who else was there. You can at least tell me their names even if I don't know who they are."
"Okay but most of the kids I just met tonight and I don't remember all their names but Susie, Charlotte and Austin were there. I had lunch with them today. Jonathan came and sat by me and those are some of his friends. They're pretty cool," she said.
I thought they were more than cool to have sat with my daughter at lunch but I was not about to say so.
"Tomorrow, everyone is getting together to play some more games. It's going to be at Charlotte's house and she invited me too. Jonathan said he could give me a ride over. Can I go?" she asked while looking at the frozen TV screen.
"Sure, but you'll have to call your father and let him know. He might be disappointed not to get to see you this weekend."
"I'll ask him to come get me Sunday morning and I can spend Sunday with him andd then he can drive me back to school on Monday. Besides, we just spent last weekend with him so it's not like it's been that long." She sounded a little defensive.
"It's okay. I'm sure your father will understand," I replied as I patted her knee.
"Yea, well, I'm off to bed. See you in the morning," she said before she reached out and gave me an impulsive, short hug. It was so short I did not even have time to hug her back but I gave her a big smile before she headed out the door.
I would remember to say an extra thank-you tonight in my prayers for a boy named Jonathan!
The weekend went by in a flash. Hailey went to Tim's house on Sunday and Macy stayed home with me although Tim offered to take Macy too but she chose to stay home with me. Monday morning I threw a pot roast in the crock pot for dinner and got Macy off to school. At lunch, I got another text from Hailey asking if she could get a ride home with Jonathan. Of course, I said yes. When I got home from work, Hailey and Macy were at the table doing their homework. I got dinner ready as quick as I could so we could sit down and eat together before Tim got there to collect Hailey. We made it as far as dishing out the food before Tim arrived. We invited him in to eat with us and he agreed. It was weird to have him at the dinner table again after all this time but I could tell the girls loved it. We ate quickly so that Hailey and Tim could get on their way. They still had a thirty minute drive home. After they left, I gave Macy a big hug.
"Mom, I know you and Dad are not getting back together again but it was pretty nice tonight," said Macy as she hugged me tight around my midsection. She was getting bigger. I used to be my bum she hugged.
"I know what you mean Macy but I'm glad you realize we will not be getting back together again," I replied. I had worried the girls might think that as we all sat down to a family dinner. That ship had sailed, unfortunately, but it had sailed.
The next two weeks went by pretty much the same way. The girls went to school. Tim came and picked up Hailey every weekday night, ate dinner with us and then they went home. Hailey asked to stay with me weekends as she wanted to hang out with her friends but Sundays she went home with Tim. Tim seemed okay with the arrangement. Macy was happy and things were going well.
I had investigated a couple different options for after school care for Macy but in the end it was Janie Smith who came to me with the solution. She wanted to have Macy come to her house after school. It would give her daughter a study buddy and playmate all at once. We hashed out the financial arrangements to each of our satisfaction and I let Tim know what his half was going to cost him. Tim kept me updated on the variance we had applied for with our old school district so that Hailey could attend her old high school. The school district said it would take a couple of weeks for a decision to be made. I was crossing my fingers but I was not sure exactly what I was hoping for. If Hailey did not get into her old high school, she would be devastated and if she did, I thought it might be difficult for her to leave the friends she had made in the last couple of weeks. I did not know what I wanted but I knew a decision was coming.
Two more weeks passed before Tim texted me at work. It was Monday and I had just finished prepping a patient and was waiting for the anesthesiologist when my phone buzzed at me. Since I had a moment, I stepped outside of the room and checked who it was. It was Tim. I had not received a text from Tim since long before the divorce. I was surprised but I swiped at my phone and checked the text.
I just heard from the school district. Hailey can start attending at the quarter.
That made sense. She was four weeks into the school year. It would be easier for grading to change her at the quarter rather than right now.
Perfect. I'll let her know tonight unless you want to tell her?
No, you tell her. We can talk logistics tonight when I come pick up Hailey. By the way, thanks for feeding me the past couple of weeks. It's been nice to be with the girls again on a regular basis.
No problem, see you tonight.
It had been awkward at first. Eating dinner with my ex-husband and children as a family when we were no longer a family. Awkward! The first week I had tried to get dinner ready faster and faster but he always turned up while we were eating. The girls always asked him to eat with us and he always did. It turned out he ate dinner with us every week Monday through Thursday night on a regular basis. Almost more than when he lived with us. At first I worried the girls would think we were getting back together again. I had taken each of them aside individually to make sure they understood the situation for what it was. Hailey had laughed and Macy replied indignantly that we had already talked about this. I had even worried Tim might think we were getting back together again but then, I learned to just live in the moment and let the worries fall by the side, at least for the moment. The girls were happy and that was important.
As I drove home that night from work, I was excited to see Hailey and tell her the news. I was not excited about what that meant to me since it meant I would see less of Hailey but I knew it was what she wanted so I was excited for her. It hit me that this is a little bit like what it would be like when she went off to college. I was not ready for that! I guess this would get us both ready for the inevitable.
As I turned off the car and walked into the house I was met with the pleasant aroma of cookies. Freshly baked cookies. Yum! I could not remember the last time we had made cookies. I was not even sure it had ever happened in this house. As I came into the kitchen and saw Hailey helping Macy scoop spoonfuls of chocolate cookie dough onto cookie sheets, I reveled in the happiness of that moment. Moments like this, after school cookie dough sessions with the sisters, were soon going to be impossible with Hailey at her old high school. She would only be around on weekends.
I hated to interrupt their camaraderie but then Macy looked up and smiled at me.
"Hey Mom! Hailey's helping me make cookies," said Macy.
"I see that Macy girl. They look and smell delicious. What brought on the idea to make cookies?" I asked.
"Macy thought it would be a nice idea to make you and Dad a dessert," said Hailey, "and I agreed so we finished our homework, which I knew you would want us to do, and then we made cookies!"
She sounded triumphant and happy. I was glad my Hailey was back.
"Well, I have wonderful news. Your dad texted me at work and told me your old high school will welcome you back starting at the quarter," I said with my voice escalating at the end, trying to show my excitement.
I expected jumping and yelling and maybe even a victory dance around the kitchen but all she did was look at me and say thanks before she went back to making cookies with Macy. I knew she would be a little conflicted because she had finally started to settle down here at her new school but this was weird and I did not exactly know what to say or do so I did nothing. I decided to wait until her father got there and see if he wanted to delve into this very subdued Hailey.
The girls finished the cookies while I finished dinner. We were trying yet another new crock pot meal recipe. It was for a Mexican chicken soup. It had sounded yummy but when I tasted it, it seemed a little blah so I dumped some more spices in it, set the table (and yes I set a spot for Tim) and we all sat down to eat. Tim arrived a few minutes later.
"Hi girls. How are we doing tonight? Did your Mom tell you the news?" Tim asked as he sat down to his bowl of soup.
"What news?" Macy asked.
"The news about my old high school saying I could go there," said Hailey.
She must have missed my earlier announcement.
"But that means you wouldn't be here after school with me," said Macy.
She was at that age where everything was still about her.
"No stinkerbug, I wouldn't. But I'd still see you on the weekends," said Hailey.
She was still way calmer than I had expected her to be about this news. Tim looked at me with his eyebrows raised. I shrugged back. I did not understand what was going on either. Dinner ended soon after and Hailey and Tim were headed back to Tim's house. Right before they left, I pulled Tim aside and told him how unexcited Hailey seemed and asked him to talk to her about it on their 30 minute ride home. He told me he would text me what he found out.
I got a text later that night.
She seemed okay in the car. Not as excited as I expected but we talked details on how it would all work. She's going to text her friends about it tomorrow. I'm sure it will be fine. Thanks again for dinner.
I hoped it was going to be fine.
The week progressed as normal. The kids went to school, Tim came for dinner and took Hailey home with him and work continued. It was Macy's weekend to spend time with her dad so we saw Tim on Friday too. He left Hailey as she wanted to stay and do something with her friends but he would pick her up Sunday when he dropped off Macy.
The weekend was quiet without the munchkin. Hailey spent most of the time sleeping or hanging out with her friends. Sunday morning I was quietly reading in my bed when Hailey came into my room and climbed into bed with me.
"Good morning, sweetie. How was the party at Jonathan's last night? You didn't say much when you came in."
Hailey murmured into the pillow. I could tell she was not ready to talk yet. I went back to reading my book. Halfway through the next chapter, Hailey propped herself up on her elbow.
"Mom, can I talk to you?" asked Hailey.
That got my attention. I could not remember the last time she wanted to talk to me. I noted the page number in my book and put it down on my lap.
"Yes, dear," I said and turned and looked at her.
"Mom, I've been thinking about you and Dad and Macy and my friends here and at my old school and I think I don't want to go back to my old high school in a couple of weeks," said Hailey.
She was only half looking at me and that worried me. "So now you don't want to go back to your old high school? Why not?" I asked. I needed to know she was not making some supreme sacrifice for me or Macy or even her dad.
She looked right at me. "Mom, I just really like it here. I didn't think I would, ever, but I do. I really like the kids and I've made some good friends. I still miss my old friends but it feels right to be here. I like being able to see Macy after school and help her with her homework. I like being able to see you and Dad every night. I like the way things are working out here."
"Okay," I was not sure where to go with this. I was thrilled she wanted to stay with us but worried she might change her mind later and it would be too late. "So, this means you don't want to go to your old high school?"
"I don't Mom," she replied.
"Okay, but if we call the school and cancel the variance, you can't change your mind in a week. You realize that, right?"
"I know Mom. I think it's for the best but thanks for being willing to let me do it. It means a lot to me."
"Okay," I was saying that a lot but I was a little lost here, "I guess we'll talk to your father when he brings Macy home this afternoon. We are going to have to figure out a lot."
"Thanks Mom," said Hailey. "I love you." She reached over and gave me a quick hug and then snuggled down deep into my covers.
"I love you too, dear."