05 / 365 – Ladies Dancing

SARA

Leah wants to know if this is the Twelfth Day of Christmas. Or which day it is. Is it ten lords a-leaping or eleven — what is it? Ladies dancing? I say, why are you asking me that? I didn’t grow up singing Christmas song. I didn’t even know there were twelve days to it, once upon a time. I say, that’s the kind of thing you’re supposed to ask your father. He’s supposed to take charge of that holiday. She says, then why didn’t she get to spend the whole holiday with her father if he’s in charge of it? I say, ask your grandmother then. She’s the one with the house all decorated for the holiday, the fancy holiday scenes with the stable and the animals and it all lights up. Your grandmother always insisted that Christmas had to be just so, people had to be here or there at this or that specific time, doing this specific thing, and if it didn’t happen just that way then it was all wrong and people were trying to ruin her day. And everybody knew what that meant. Nobody wants to cross the boss, especially since she still owns everything. Of course I can’t say that to Leah, and I don’t. I just tell her again to ask her father, he will of course know. And she says I never try to be helpful, I don’t care, she wishes she could have spent the whole holiday at his house. Then the door slams and she’s gone for a few hours, always checking out for a few hours. Jackie says it’s normal teenager stuff, even though she’s just twelve, and I should get used to it. It doesn’t have anything to do with the divorce. It doesn’t mean I’m doing this as terribly as I think sometimes. I don’t know. No matter what I had to do to survive, to get Erik off the couch in the living room and out of the house, I didn’t want it to mean that Leah didn’t have a family any more. I want to at least be able to still give her that. I know a lot of people have opinions about how I’ve done that, that I’ve been too accommodating to him or I still try to be civil with him even though he treats me like dirt, or a paid servant. I just want this to matter, from her perspective, as little as possible. Even if Erik and I couldn’t make it work, Leah shouldn’t have to pay the price for that.

But, I keep thinking we’ve made our way through something difficult and we’ve come out the other side OK, and then … I mean, we got through the New Year and I thought, wow, we survived that, hard as it was. And then, my god, something hits you out of now where … I mean, the twelve days of Christmas? Ten ladies dancing or lords a-leaping? I can’t keep on top of all of this.

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