The night was wonderful and I had a blast with the kids. We stayed at the diner for hours on end and laughed and talked more than we had since we moved to Vegas. People came over to us and thanked us for staying strong now that my husband was gone. The children cried a few times, but people understood why and respected our privacy in those moments. Our meal was covered by a veteran and his family. Once we got home we plugged in the Xbox and turned on our American Idol game and played it until we all felt sleepy. Laura helped me place them all to bed and then I gave her a kiss and headed to bed myself as she went to her room to feed Claudia.
As I got into m PJs my phone went off with a text. I looked at it and my heart sank.
P* Andrew told me you said yes, maybe it is best this way.
I couldn't believe that he said that, but of course I don't think he actually understood how I really felt about him.
Me* I did say yes, but it is convenience only because my broken heart is elsewhere and it will stay that way.
P* I understand you are still broken hearted about your husband and it isn't a bad thing to be, but maybe Andrew can help your heart heal.
I sighed in frustration.
Me* You know you can be real dense. Yes, I am sad that my husband is gone, but I know he wouldn't want me to dwell on it. The person I am talking about is alive and broke my already fragile heart. I guess I should have expected it, but maybe in time he will come to figure out I wasn't speaking from grief when I said that I cared for him. Maybe, just maybe he will figure out that he could help me heal because I have done all I can on my own with the kids.
I was getting angry at his dense brain and how much he seemed to want to avoid the subject.
P* Sid it is nothing against you, we just don't want to pressure you into anything. If at some point in the future you still feel the same, then act on it. Until then Sid, there are things you need to get straightened out.
Me* Damnit all to hell Parker how can you like tell that I like you, that I want a chance to be with you, but you are so put offish that I don't know what you are thinking, and you being gone makes it even worse. I am going to tell you how I feel and what you do with it, you do with it. Parker I care about you, you make me feel things I haven't and I know it has been less than a year since my husband died, but I want to live again, love and feel again and I know Harley wouldn't hold it against me let alone the kids. So you figure it out from here and I will do what I have to do, but don't expect me to wait forever.
My phone was quiet for a few minutes and I was taking my hair down and brushing it out when my phone went off again. I looked at it in total shock and read it again and again to myself.
P* I know you won't wait forever, but did you honestly think you were the only person in the world trying to get over something. Maybe you should think about that. Maybe the reason I can't tell you is because I have my own demons to work out. Sid, things aren't always as easy as they seem.
I let the conversation go after that. I felt like such an ass. I curled up on my bed and let the tears roll down my face. How could I have not known that he was trying to work through his own demons? How could I have not guessed with how quiet he was, withdrawn and aloof? I felt stupid, so stupid for pressing him on things he may not be ready for. I closed my eyes and started to drift off into a fitful sleep.
Morning came quicker than I would have expected and I was frantic that I slept past my alarm. I quickly jumped out of bed and down the stairs. All of the kids were eating breakfast thanks to Laura and I smiled.
"You know girl, I am not sure what I would do without you. We still have to figure out lunch and get everyone dressed. It is going to be warm today so choose the clothes accordingly kids. I am going to go run my head under the water and get dressed so that I look at least human when I meet Andrew's mom.
Laura looked at me, handed me a cup of coffee and then pointed her finger at the door. I nodded and went back to my room, started the shower and hopped in quickly. With the towel wrapped around me, I got my make up done, put on some comfortable clothes to play with the kids in and loosely braided my hair. When I was done I left the room to see that the kids had the same idea that I had and I giggled.
"Looks like we are all going to match today aren't we?" I looked at Laura who smiled and laughed.
"You know Mom, seems like we can read each other's mind. Might as well let her see who we really are and not fake anything ya know. The nanny got our lunch together and she is putting everything in the back of the van along with four of our old riding blankets for us to sit on. There are like five baskets so I think that there is more than enough food for all of us."
I looked at Laura and something seemed a bit off, but until the meeting was over I decided to shrug it off. As everyone got rounded up I sighed with relief that we still had more than enough time to get there and get settled before Madi showed up.
As we got in the van and ready to go I started to brief the kids. "Alright guys please, please be on your best behavior today, we need to show her that we are nice people, not a pack of wild animals. I know you guys are my angels so let's show it to Ms. Madi alright."
I heard the murmers from all around me and laughed at the lack of enthusiasm. I pulled up in the parking lot and got out of the van. Laura started to get everything together, handing kids the baskets that they would carry, getting the blankets settled with the smaller children while she got Claudia set up in her stroller and I grabbed the last two baskets before locking the van and heading for the large tree that would serve as our picnic spot.
"Guys can you help me set up before you go play, I would greatly appreciate it." All of the kids spread out and started to get the blankets set along with a few of the pillows they managed to sneak on the picnic and laura got Claudia all set up and ready to go while the baskets were set up and I made sure that the kids had sunscreen and water. I nodded to each in turn as they went to play on the mostly shade covered playground that spanned out in front of us.
I looked at Laura's face and started to worry as she bit her lip in frustration and looked at me before she looked away. I smiled at her. "Laura thanks so much for your help, you have been so wonderful in helping me out. I am sorry though, I feel I put so much on you."
She just shook her head and started to rub sun screen on Claudia. It wasn't long before I heard a feminine voice call my name.
"Sid, wow, Sid is that you?" Her voice was like honey as she spoke and I smiled as I stood up to shake her hand.
"Hi Madi, it is nice to meet you, please come sit and join us." I pointed to the rough thread of the riding blankets that were spread out like a patchwork quilt in front of us. She nodded and sat down, as she did she looked me over and nodded.
"My goodness, that is a lot of kids you have there with you." She looked over Laura and smiled. "Hi, my name is Madison, Madi for short, who is this beautiful little girl?"
Laura smiled sweetly as she could. "This is Claudia, she is my daughter, about two months old."
Madi smiled. "She is absolutely stunning, such a beautiful little girl you have there. You must be Laura then, your mother told me about how amazing you are."
Laura nodded uncomfortably and smiled before she turned her attention back to Claudia. I looked over at the children and laughed. "Celeste, Charles, Scott, Christian, Aleria and Reese, please come here for a minute there is someone I want you to meet and you guys need to get some water."
They came over and sat down long enough to gulp down some water, meet Madi and then scamper off again. I laughed as they got so excited about playing until Scott came over crying that he fell.
I cuddled with him for a minute with my cheek against his head before I kissed him and sent him on his way.
"My goodness Sid, you have your hands full, how is it that you keep track of them all?" She was shocked and awed by my little family and I laughed.
"I have a lot of help in Laura, she is amazing and the Nanny that my company hired to help me has helped a lot as well. I wouldn't give them up for anything and they mean more to me than my own life. Even if they aren't mine by blood they are mine in heart and spirit."
Madi looked at me confused for a moment. "What do you mean they aren't yours?"
I sighed. "Well Laura is my step daughter, but still the daughter of my soul and I love her and Claudia so much. Aleria, Reese, Charles and Christian are my husband's kids and then Celeste and Scott are mine with Laura's father. When we became a family we fully adopted them all and those who wanted to change their last name could, if not they could stay how they were. Some of them to this day haven't decided and that is alright with me."
She looked at me in total shock. "So you took a bunch of children from broken homes and gave them a place to be not just themselves, but a part of something bigger."
I shook my head. "No Madi, I gave our children, blood related or not, a stable home to be themselves. I know it is difficult to understand, but they are mine and I would never trade them for the world."
Madi smiled at me and as the day went on she started to grasp who was who and even had all the kid's names correct. I smiled to myself and laughed as she got up and played with them.
Laura still weighed heavily on my mind and I was more worried than before as I watched her. When we got home I would have to talk with her about what was wrong.