Last night the Irishman invited the kids and I to family night at his “secrety society” of Irishmen.
Want to know what the raffle prizes are for a gathering of Irish people?
First prize: Whiskey. Second prize: Whiskey. Third prize: Whiskey. There was no fourth prize. No kidding. I think I laughed for 20 minutes over that.
Have I ever mentioned that the Irishman has three kids of his own? And that I have two kids of my own? So if you do the math, you’ll quickly discover that between us we have about 150 kids. As we all know, children’s power and volume increases exponentially for each additional child … (If you don’t believe me on the volume thing, try doing a water displacement test.)
Have I also mentioned that our combined brood could be the poster children for Aryan Nation*? That is, all the kids have white-blonde hair except for his oldest (who used to have white-blonde hair) and all but my oldest have blue eyes (she got mommy’s green eyes).
Anyway, his oldest is 11 and a boy and … not into family night with the old Hibernians. He lucked out and got to go to a sleepover party last night. But the rest of us schlepped out to eat roast beef and hear Irish music. Me, one bald, ex-roofer and four little blondes — ages 8,7,6 and 3.
We got a lot of comments like this: “What beautiful children you have! Are they all yours?” “Which ones are yours? Are there some cousins in the mix?” and “They are so cute! You have a beautiful family.”
And it was weird. And funny. And nice. And uncomfortable. Because we were at an Irish Catholic event, the idea of … us, I guess, all of us … was a little unusual. Divorce only became legal in Ireland in 1997. The Irishman, in his old-worldy way, is absolutely devastated that he’s divorced. (Also, because we were at an Irish Catholic event, all the proceeds went to pro-life efforts. On the way home I said, “Uh, just so you know, I’m not exactly pro-life…” )
It was also hard because it was “family” night. The Irishman had spent the day cleaning out his storage unit and combing through the personal archaeology of families past. That kind of stuff is brutal. It can shake even a strong person.
Before we left, he was in the kids’ room trying to dig out some pretty-girly clothes for his youngest to wear. I followed him in. “You’re not yourself tonight. You OK?”
“Tough day,” he said.
“Also, it’s family night,” I said. “Wrong family,” I noted. “I don’t take that personally or anything. It just is what it is.” (Note: I never say “It is what it is” without thinking of Kevin Federline juuuuust for a moment.)
“No, that’s not it,” he said. “Just a tough day.”
Then we crammed four kids into the back seat of his car so we could all drive together for a change. Like a family. (His words.)
And that’s what it’s like to grieve for your old family while trying to look forward and figure out what your new family might look like.
Then: Guinness in cans. (Who knew?) Kids playing under the table. Bittersweet songs from the old country — not my old country, but someone else’s. Potty trips with four sets of little feet under the stalls.
Then home. To two separate places.
*Dear God/Google, please don’t let my blog start showing up on searches for Aryan Nation. Thanks.
(Dear white supremacists: You have landed on this web site in error. Nothing to see here. Have a nice day.)