This is a hard post to write.
The pumpkin patch has always been my most favorite tradition of the season and I knew that the kids felt the same. I debated about skipping it altogether. I thought about going to a different patch, one that none of us were familiar with so that the memories of our once-family didn't plague the kids as they tried to enjoy the transition of summer into fall.
But then I changed my mind.
I decided that I can't stop our lives. I can't avoid everything that is going to be difficult. I worked incredibly hard when these kids were just babies to start the traditions that were meaningful to me and I have worked really hard since then to continue them. I don't want to give up and walk away from those things that are etched in our hearts. This is their childhood and I'm not stealing from them the parts that are good, bad, hard, sad, wonderful, or anything in between those emotions.
There have been other years that daddy didn't go with us to the pumpkin patch. I am not sure that the kids remember that because in essence he was still living at home and we were still functioning as a family. But he was working, or sleeping and I still bundled them up and headed that way without him. And I did the same this year.
I watched as they walked the maze. I couldn't help but wonder if they felt like it was similar to our lives. Entered into, complete with wrong turns and dead ends only to find a beautiful exit that was beaming with light and openness.
They don't feel it, of course. They only felt little in a field of corn that was oh so big. And that was precisely what I needed to see.
I did choose to make our first trip to the pumpkin patch on "family fun day" so that it was packed with people and not such an intimate, quiet experience. In hindsight I'm not sure what would have been better but over all the kids played and enjoyed themselves.
The air was cold and blowing and the sky was a brilliant grey. It was the most perfect of all fall moments, truly.
My heart really does ache in the knowing that all of these big 'firsts' are approaching. This may have been hard but we have the holiday months coming and I can't help but feel a sense of dread. It's terrifying not knowing how to help the kids through these moments that have held so much weight in our family until now. So much of it feels unfair and like I have been thrust into this emotional drainpipe. The kids are just spinning down it rapidly, not knowing how to climb back out. It feels overwhelming at times looking at them and knowing that all we can do is go through the hard things together and really pray that God protects their hearts along the way.
When we left the pumpkin patch Nora cried really hard the entire way home. It was a kind of guttural cry, one that felt undeniably familiar to me. She sunk into her seat, buried her head and let it all go. It was literally devastating for me, but has become somewhat normal from her, sadly.
We came home, hugged her a lot, let her explain what she was feeling and then moved on with our night which just happened to include carving a giant pumpkin.
We made it through.
It was hard but in between the intense, emotional moments were several sweet ones. Laughter, giggles, glances and I love you's. They may never remember how hard this trip was for them. My hope is that they remember the way our home smelled when we walked through the door, how warm it was, the dinner I made, how fun it was to dig out pumpkin seeds, that we were all together and that I love them more than anything in this entire world. I hope that they remember that despite it all, I still took them to our favorite pumpkin patch and we still lived.
Ultimately that is what I want for them and for myself.
To never stop living.
To do the hard things and do it with big hearts.
To feel vulnerable, experiencing all the hurts, all the pain, all the raw feelings that come with every experience.
And to do it together; fully.
Pumpkin Patch 2013.
We did it.