It’s crazy how time flies. I guess I’ve been saying that a lot recently. But it’s true. My life isn’t perfect – nothing is – but it’s pretty damn close. I remember all that time ago when I was a teen, I just wanted to make a difference in the world, and for my family. I wanted my kids to be able to have everything I wasn’t able to have when I was a little girl. When I think back to everything that’s happened… it’s hard to believe how far I’ve come. And my kids are just starting their journeys. Just starting to figure out who they are and what they want.
With two older teens in the house, things can get a little out of control sometimes, and today sounds like one of those days. Valentina and Seraphina’s voices emanated throughout the house. There was no way you couldn’t know when they were having an argument. Their friends-one-day, enemies-the-next relationship had never really changed since they were kids. Their personalities just clash too much for them to be close, it seems.
“I didn’t tell you to!” Vali scoffed, and they both quieted down instantly once they realized I was there. Vali gave her sister a questioning stare as Seraphina crossed her arms.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
Seraphina pursed her lips, sighing, but she still didn’t say anything.
“I guess nothing,” Vali said pointedly, and she walked back towards her room. I turned back to Seraphina, but she still didn’t say anything. She didn’t say anything until we heard Vali’s door click closed and music begin to play.
“It really is nothing,” she finally said, “I’ve got to go study.”
I sighed, sitting down as I listened to the clock tick. Silence was never good in this house. What happened to those days when my kids would tell me everything? I suppose they are older now – I can’t expect to know everything about their lives. I know there was plenty of things I didn’t tell my mom about when I was their age. Our dog suddenly ran right past me, and Jackson was not far behind.
“Hey, mommy,” he said quickly as he passed me, running after Benji. He had been working on teaching her tricks ever since we’d gotten her. He was very persistently in teaching her, and it had really paid off. Benji was a really smart dog, and she caught on quickly. Winter break was typically a bit out of control since it was 2 weeks straight of no school. The kids love it, though, even if it can get a bit crazy. The second they get home from school on the last day before break, they all have a party. It’s the only day in the whole year that I can be absolutely certain they’re going to get along. They all bond over their shared excitement for break, laying out sleeping bags in the upstairs family room and talking all night. They have lanterns and hot chocolate – the whole package. One they get home, it’s straight upstairs to set everything up. Dani and I don’t mind, after all those weeks of schoolwork, they should have some fun. Besides, it lets us have fun of our own. Seraphina, being the exceptionally good student she is, often spends some of break working ahead. Even Grayson, who also likes learning would take this time to enjoy playing a few video games. I don’t think he does extra work over break, but the two of them still do educational things together, like chess, or some kind of interesting project.
We don’t go crazy decorating for Christmas like some families do, but we always have a nice-sized tree to put up in the living room that the kids always love to decorate.
By now, the tree has a hodgepodge of ornaments we put up there; mostly things the kids made in school. I know we have an adorable set of hand turkeys from when they were all in kindergarten. And of course on Christmas Day, there are presents on top of presents stuffed under the tree. Once the kids wake up, it’s a free for all. They all search for their gifts while handing the ones that aren’t theirs to whoever those happen to be for. It’s fun and crazy. There’s no way they would stop for a second for us to get a picture of them, so we’ve just settled on setting up a camera and videoing the whole thing. The videos we have date back to when Seraphina was two and Valentina was three. It’s a family tradition – and every year, Dani and I re-watch all of the videos together. I love our family, and there’s nothing I would change. We have another tradition that isn’t exactly for Christmas – it’s a New Year’s tradition. After that first year we had a New Year’s party, it just became a thing for everyone to get together and chat. With everyone’s crazy, busy lives, it’s nice to know that we’ll see each other at least one a year. We take turns hosting it and all, and this year is our year. Vali has been begging us to let her decorate and set up for it for the past few years – and we finally decided to agree. It would be a good incentive for her to get her grades up. It’s actually kind of nice not having to do any work for it. It gives me more time to spend with my kids while they’re on break. While they’re going to school, they typically come home, have a snack of some sort, work on their homework – which they actually have a decent amount of now – and then go straight to doing the things they enjoy. While they’re on break, though, they have plenty of free time, so I actually get to talk and do stuff with them more than help with homework. It’s nice to see them all having fun.
I love my simple life – and no, I guess it isn’t simple to everyone, but it’s everyday life for me. I enjoy my day-to-day life and that’s what everyone should wish for – to simply enjoy their whole life. Not just the vacations or the parties, but everything. Life itself is a miracle, it should be enjoyed thoroughly.
“The sky is so clear,” Seraphina exclaimed, looking over to me, “do you want to see?”
I smiled. “Yeah, why not?”
Seraphina’s eyes lit up – as they always do when she talks about space. Our backyard was huge. As part of the expansion, we’d decided to fence it in. Seraphina laid down in the middle of the snowy yard without a second thought and she looked up at me, motioning to join her. It would be so cold, but what is life if you haven’t stargazed with your daughter in the snow?
“That one’s Ursa Minor, also known as the Little Dipper,” Seraphina pointed out.
I could barely tell what stars she was pointing at, but she looked so happy and peaceful. She could probably lay here in the snow all night, staring at the stars.
A beam of light suddenly flooded across the ground, and I looked over that way to see Jackson walking Benji down the steps. I had been so surprised with how mature he was with his dog. Most kids would hate to pick up poop or walk their dog in the freezing cold, but not Jackson. He loves animals so much, even starting a animal adoption club at school. The club goes to the Brindleton Pawspital every Tuesday and Thursday to help out all the animals. I think it’s sweet and even Grayson tags along with his brother every once in a while.
“Whatcha doing?” He asked as Benji tried to run circles around him, but he was able to keep her from tying him up.
“We’re looking at the stars,” Seraphina replied. Jackson looked up, then looked back to Benji.
“In the snow?”
Seraphina stuck her tongue out playfully. “Says the person wearing shorts in December.”
He laughed, sticking his tongue out to her. “Yeah yeah yeah. I’m taking Benji for a walk down to the center area.”
“Ok,” I replied, turning back to Seraphina, “I think you were talking about the Little Dipper.”
She grinned happily, looking back up at the sky. “Yes. That bigger set of stars near it is the Big Dipper, or Ursa Major.”
She kept explaining about the different constellations and how they got their names, ect. We started to hear the familiar sound of the piano emanating through the walls. Looking at Vali, I would never expect that she would play classical music – she plays everything – but she has always liked classical. It’s what she learned to play first.
“There’s going to be a lunar eclipse in a few days,” Seraphina said, her eyes practically sparkling. She was always up-to-date in the latest astronomical event happening. She begged us to bring her to Oasis Springs to see the total solar eclipse for days a few years back. We did bring her – and she loved every moment. It tells you a lot about who she is, though. She’s the kind of girl to beg you to take her to a solar eclipse, not a party or something like that.
“And that’s when…”
“The moon passed directly behind Earth,” Seraphina finished, “and the moon glows red. We’ve only recently been able to see it again, something with the environment stopped us from being able to view these events.”
“Oh, really?” I had no idea that the global warming had eventually reached the point where the atmosphere was so thick we couldn’t see eclipses. She nodded, pointing out that the moon right now was a waxing gibbous. It eventually got way too cold and I had to make Seraphina come in so she wouldn’t freeze.
I love the holiday season – it makes winter my favorite part of the year. It brings our family together. There are some days when none of the kids want to talk to each other, but when the holidays come around, all of that just seems to melt away. Everyone just gets happier during the holidays; with all the festive things, how could you not be?
Dani and I had to admit Valentina had done an amazing job with the decorations. It looked like something out of a magazine or tv show.
I probably would’ve turned on some festive music, put up gold streamers, and called it a day. She went all out – but it doesn’t surprise me. Valentina likes all those things that catch people’s attention. If she’s going to do something, she’s going to make sure it’s memorable. Even Kiara is coming this year – the last few years she hasn’t been able to make it over.
“You ready for the new year?”
“2553 is going to be a good one,” I smiled, “although this last year was pretty great.”
Dani nodded. “Gosh, time goes by so fast.”
“I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking that,” I chuckled.
“Our kids are growing up right before our eyes. It’s been amazing watching them come into their own,” Dani replied, smiling, “it’s been the best experience of my life.”
“Mine too. And I’m so glad I’m doing it with you.”
She blushed, smiling. Even after 18 years of marriage, we still make each other blush. She brushed her hand against me cheek and pulled me into a deep kiss. Every time we kiss, it just lights something up inside me. From the first time and ever since then. Every single kiss. That’s how I know that I married the right woman.
A few minutes into our small make-out session, the doorbell rang, and we parted reluctantly.
“I guess that means our first guests have arrived,” I sighed, running my hand through her hair.
She nodded. “Don’t worry, we’ll have plenty of time to pick this back up later.”
I chuckled, nudging her. “Really now?”
“How better to start off the new year of 2553? I’m most certainly spending it with my hot wife.”
It was my turn to blush as the doorbell rung once more. “That sounds like a wonderful idea.”
The two of us rushed down after that, and to my surprise, it was Kiara and her family. She wasn’t sure if all the kids would be able to make it last time we talked, but now it was obvious they all had. Despite her living in Willow Creek only thirty minutes away, we hardly ever see each other besides at some big gathering.
“Adelaide!” Kiara exclaimed, pulling me into a hug.
“Kiara, it’s great to see you!” I smiled and gestured around to all her kids, “and great to see all of you, too.” Her kids aren’t really kids anymore – the older two are grown adults now, and the youngest is eighteen.
Her husband smiled. “You have a lovely house, Mrs. and Mrs. Clemonte.”
“It’s Adelaide, we’re family. And thank you,” I laughed.
Dani nodded in agreement. “Yes, call me Dani. You are…”
“Nathan,” he replied.
“Nice to meet you. Anyway, enough with all the formalities. It’s New Year’s Eve, I bet you’re all looking for something fun to do.”
“Definitely. You two have any wine?”
I laughed. There’s no way we would keep wine in the house, knowing Vali, she’d try some. But since we’re throwing a New Year’s party… well, it’s not a New Year’s party without toasts and all. “Yeah, specifically for this. It’s out on the pull-out bar in the living room.”
“Great,” Chloe laughed as another car pulled up. Before long, the party was in full swing. So many people were commenting on how well the place was decorated, and I happily pointed them over towards our oldest daughter. She was having a great time playing the piano for a little bit as the guests crowded around. Kiara joked that she’s a child prodigy – and she kind of is. Evan and Bay actually hired her to play at their 20th wedding anniversary, which is exciting. Vali never passes up a chance to dress up and today was no exception. It was a struggle trying to find an appropriate dress, but we were finally able to agree. We practically had to force (okay, influence) the other kids to dress up for the occasion.
I don’t even think Seraphina owned a dress until she got one for this occasion. She’s never really been one to care all too much about her appearance, choosing instead to focus on things you can’t see, like intelligence. The boys all groaned about having to wear suits – not like it stops them from playing around. I walked upstairs, looking for Seraphina to help me create glowing icing for the cake and stumbled into an ongoing conversation.
“Shit, Vali! Kyle’s your boyfriend?” I recognized Jaden’s voice from all the time he and Vali spent together. I walked slightly further into the room, suddenly realizing how he knew this Kyle was her boyfriend…
And if it wasn’t a New Year’s party, and if I didn’t have something else I needed to do, I probably would’ve said something to my daughter about how she was making out with some guy – sorry, her boyfriend. She’s sixteen… too young to even be in a serious relationship, in my opinion. Much too young to be kissing like that, no doubt. But I had to finish up the cake icing, so I silently walked away, almost running into Seraphina at the bottom of the stairs. “Oh, Seraphina,” I started.
She turned to me. “Yeah?”
“Can you help me out? I want the icing to glow, but still be edible.”
She grinned, turning to walk towards the kitchen. “That sounds interesting…”
“Well, you’re the one taking AP Chemistry in 9th grade, at fifteen. I think if anyone can do it, it’s you.”
She blushed slightly at the compliment. Seraphina wasn’t one to brag about her academic achievements – or anything, really. “You really should’ve had the cake done already,” was all she said, smiling.
“Yeah, but things got a little busy.”
We made our way over to the kitchen, passing the small bar, which many of the adults were crowded around. They were all laughing while the news played in the background. For much of their childhoods, the kids didn’t even want to hear the news because they were typically covering horrible things. As Brindleton’s mayor, I have to stay caught up on these topics, but I can see why they wouldn’t have wanted to hear it. Horrible things happen in this world. It’s really a shame – so much could be accomplished if everyone worked together and we weren’t spending so much time fighting each other and holding grudges. That doesn’t get you anywhere. Seraphina seemingly had pulled a notebook out of nowhere as I’d gotten lost in my thoughts, and was quickly scribbling things down.
“I think I’ve got it,” she said, flipping the notebook closed, “let me just get a few things.” She went off, presumably to her room. I started to the icing I’d already made out of the fridge when I felt a tug on my arm, and I turned to see Jackson and Ethan.
“What’s up?” I asked them. I hoped that all the people around wasn’t too overwhelming for the kids, but they seemed to be doing fine.
Jackson turned to Ethan. “He has a question to ask you.”
I turned my gaze to Ethan, who bit his lip before asking, “Are you and mama lesbians?”
I just stood there in shock for a few seconds. Since when do nine year olds talk about sexuality? Obviously we had to explain to the kids that they had two moms and that most kids would probably have a mom and a dad. We had this little ‘family talk’ with each of them when they started kindergarten, explaining that there are many different types of families out there – ones with two moms, two dads, a mom and a dad, single parents, divorced parents – but they were all equally valid. We didn’t go into much detail, but just let them know that kids they met in school might have a very different family situation than they do.
I opened my mouth to say something, but Ethan took my silence as not understanding the question, so he began to talk again. “Someone at school said you and mama were lesbians.”
At school? Then… “Ethan, what do you think the word lesbian means?”
He shrugged. “I dunno, something like geek, or smart, stupid, something like that.” Basically, he thought it was a description word – but it didn’t describe what he was thinking of. I was a bit relieved to know that fourth graders weren’t talking actually about sex. They’re too young to be thinking seriously about who they like – they should be having fun and playing. It sounded more like someone heard he had two moms and just made some offhand comment about it. Maybe they have LGBTQ+ people in their family, too. I was just glad that someone wasn’t telling him it was a bad thing.
“No… it’s not that. A lesbian is a girl who likes other girls,” I explained softly.
“Ohh…” Ethan whispered.
Jackson laughed. “I told you mommy and mama were lesbians.”
“Well technically, your mama is pansexual. It means she likes people regardless of their gender. I am a lesbian, though.”
Ethan furrowed his brows, looking up to me. “What am I?”
“Bud, don’t worry about it. You’ll find out in time,” I assured him, “and we’ll love you no matter what.”
“Okay, mommy,” he replied with a smile just as Seraphina came back in. Ethan and Jackson disappeared into the busy house lot long after that to go find Grayson and I sat down on one of the stools as Seraphina mixed her different solutions together. I suppose the kids are old enough now to possibly be thinking about sexuality. I know Vali must know about it all – high schoolers must talk about it. Seraphina, ever the curious one, ended up on the topic of of attraction one day last summer. At fourteen years old then, it wasn’t a terrible time to talk about it all with her, so we ended up talking the whole sexuality and gender thing with her then. She’s very factual and I could tell she was just interested in learning more about it – like every new thing she learns about.
“Mom, look!” I’d been looking in her direction, but hadn’t really been paying much attention. She grinned, leaning the bowl towards me so I could see the glowing liquid inside.
“Whoa,” I breathed, looking at her in awe. How she managed to figure out the right ingredients and do it all by scratch was beyond me. “Is it edible?”
“Oh, definitely. I only used elements that were edible. I used a lot of plant-based mixtures. Did you know that weird UFO plant in our greenhouse is really good for making bioluminescence?”
“Now I do,” I laughed. She grinned, pouring it into the icing bowl. After a good dozen stirs, the icing was glowing a pale blue color. Seraphina and I carefully finished icing the cake and added the finishing touches.
“Thanks for helping me out,” I said to her, and she laughed.
“It’s no big deal, there’s nothing else I really wanted to do anyway,” she smiled, “but I guess Grayson can show me his new game now.”
“Sounds good,” I nodded, and I made my way over to the living room while Seraphina went upstairs. There were a lot of noises running together right now, but I could pick out the sound of Valentina playing her violin through all of them. We hear her playing the violin or piano so often, I think the sound is permanently ingrained in my brain. It’s a good sound, though.
“Your kids are all so sweet,” Kiara said, sitting down next to me.
“They’re great kids. I’m lucky to be their mom.”
“They’re lucky to have you as a mom.”
I smiled softly. “Thank you.”
“One of the boys was having your dog do a couple tricks for me. He had a whole obstacle course set up, too.”
“That must be Jackson. He loves animals, and believe it or not, he taught Benji all the tricks she can do. He actually wants to be a vet when he grows up.”
Kiara smiled. “Oh, that’s great. I love dogs, so I definitely see the appeal. We recently got a black lab, and he is so adorable. It sucks, but I’ve got to go early. I’ve got to plan out lessons for the kids in my classes, but I’ll still be watching the New Year’s Eve show.”
“Well, I hope you had a good time.”
“Definitely. Thank you for hosting! We’ve got to catch up more often.”
“I’ll hold you to it,” I laughed. I glanced at my watch for a quick time check, only to realize it was already 11:30. I quickly turned the channel and tried my best to get everyone’s attention. Before long, seemingly everyone was crowded around the screen, watching intently. There’s just something about the new year that makes you think about life. I’d say I did a pretty darn good job. I’m proud of what I’ve been able to build for this family – and I don’t just mean literally, like the house, but also happiness and stability. So much has happened since I was just a kid Ethan’s age. My family moved here, and from there… I grew up. I figured out what I wanted to do in life, figured out how to love, figured out how to be a mom. I truly believe I am the best person I could be. I’m proud of that. Why shouldn’t I be? All these moments, the good ones and the bad ones, made me, me. The bad ones aren’t truly bad – they taught me things. They were learning moments. You don’t grow without making mistakes. And the good ones… they’re full of happiness, joy, and love. They’re what make life worth living. And I would do it all again in a heartbeat.