It's wonderful to have the Small One in my life (who I will start calling "The Kid" since that is often how BC refers to her, and honestly she will be taller than me when she finishes growing I'm sure), but there are challenges.
The biggest challenge in many ways is dealing the The Ex, no she's not evil, I even like her a bit. I've never had to deal so much with exes before, or it somehow didn't matter as much but when there is a child involved, there are going to be more events in common, more issues that will arise. Last night The Kid was in a school play. Prior to this anything having to do with the school was off limits to the new sweethearts, which I completely understood; though I had temporarily forgotten and briefly thought "how fun, I can't wait to go". At dinner The Kid expressed that she was bummed I wasn't going to be there, and how the ex's partner had "an appointment and couldn't go either". This was delivered with a bit of sigh and shoulder shrug. BC left the dinner table shortly after and I cleaned up. It turned out that she had called the ex and discussed bringing the new girlfriends because this was about The Kid and not them. So I went.
As I said, I like the ex reasonably fine and we have chatted before, often falling back on the one thing we know we have in common, besides that we have both slept with BC, knitting. It's good we have that, it's a safe topic and we don't have to expose too much personal information or any emotions. However there is something about the energy when her girlfriend is there that makes me tense. I feel my body go rigid, my smile hardened, and my breathing is not as deep. As I sat there it made is hard to enjoy the badly delivered lines from children who could not project their voices, who garbled their lines all the while being totally adorable. About halfway through I was able to let go a bit and appreciate the performance of 37 children ranging in age from 5 to 11 years old. I was happy to bid our good byes in the parking lot and head home with The Kid to do the Friday night movie night ritual.
Another piece of having her in my world is doing things like we did tonight - The Polar Express train ride of Cuyahoga Valley. I had never read the book (the illustrator is a favorite of BC's) nor seen the movie so I went along with little idea of the mythology connected with this but got the gist before hand. The Kid changed into her pajamas in the car, after we had dinner - very cute. She had packed along a bag with various stuffed animals and such that she brought along as well. People who know me, know I love kids, however I am not a fan of small, enclosed places with a large number of kids, a bad PA system playing overly loud holiday carols (often with skips!). People who know me well, know I was never really a kid so entering this zone of suspended disbelief or acting foolish is not a strong suit. While I frequently wished for ear plugs to muffle the sound, I survived, even enjoying it a bit, but was glad this is only a year event. It may be good for me to continue to do things like this, to find that place where I can learn to learn how to be a kid just a little.
Tomorrow we have a horse show The Kid is doing, that might be more my thing as I rode a tiny bit as a kid as well and adore horses. I believe the ex and her girlfriend will be there. Once again a weekend that is very family oriented, and one with it's own particular sets of obstacles: dealing with exes, learning more about what it means to be involved with someone who is a parent, discovering how to let go of my stuffy adult a bit at a time, testing my patience around noise, figuring out how to continue to be a good communicator when I am thoroughly exhausted and wishing to locate the benadryl - for me or The Kid, some times it's hard to now.
Right now The Kid is fast asleep, continued from the nap she started in the car. BC is curled up next to me in our bed, thoroughly exhausted as today was her long run day (she did 16 miles today, averaging about 10.5 minutes per mile). I am still in the process of seeing how this all feels - this could be my life. Silly train rides, an overtired child who will wake with far too much energy in the morning, BC and I will be tired from our training (I walked a total of 12 miles this week), grocery shopping and laundry needing to be done, and the ghosts of our pasts making appearances in solid and triggered forms. It could be rather lovely, possibly rather ordinary. That might not be so bad.