Family of Me

by Daphne
Updates Mondays and Fridays

Scene 112: A Calm Reunion

(I’m sitting alone at a large Japanese pond, staring idly out at the water as a gentle breeze makes small waves along its surface. Beneath the water’s surface koi swim freely, darting forward occasionally to snap at unseen morsels of food. I breathe deeply, letting the fresh air and serene setting calm my nerves. As I rest, I hear the soft sound of footsteps behind me.)

Ivy (The Partner): Mind if I join you?

Mom (Me, smiling): Welcome, Ivy. Have a seat.

(I gesture to the grass and Ivy sits down beside me, staring out at the water as well. I enjoy her company in silence for a short time before speaking up.)

Mom: What made you come back?

Ivy (shrugging): It felt like it was time. I was really upset after our last conversation… I felt betrayed. At the time it felt like you were trying to hide my future from me, but I think I understand your intent now. I’m not sure I would have reacted poorly if I saw our present before working through your past, but I understand why you thought that.

Mom: In retrospect, I wish I could have given you the choice.

Ivy: It’s okay, Mom. I’ve seen it all now, at any rate.

Mom: What about our relationship itself? About how it’s grown in some ways, but that we’re still struggling in others?

Ivy: I was upset about that, but I couldn’t stay that way. I can’t be angry at you for not resolving problems that I couldn’t solve.

Mom: I still want to improve things with my partner… I’m working on it, at any rate.

Ivy: I know, Mom. I’m here with you now, and they were my problems to begin with. I’d like to work on them together.

Mom (smiling): I’d like that very much.

Ivy: Besides, I wouldn’t want to disappoint my sisters. They all wrote me such lovely messages… I assume you delivered them?

Mom: Of course.

Ivy (teary-eyed): I love you, and I love my sisters. It feels good to be with you all again.

(Ivy leans over to rest her head on my shoulder as we both gaze out over the water. After taking in the peaceful scenery together for a bit, Ivy speaks up again.)

Ivy: So what’s happening with our partner now, anyways? What’s our goal there?

Mom: We’re learning to exist apart from each other again.

Ivy (surprised): Wait, you mean she’s moving out?

Mom: No, not that far apart. But she’s trying to find more time to be on her own, or with our child and without me. She’s already taken our kid on one trip by herself, and she’s planning others.

Ivy: And you’re okay with that?

Mom: Absolutely — I help her plan them, it’s not like they’re a secret. It’s very encouraging, to be honest.

Ivy (shocked): How is that encouraging!?

Mom: Separation is important in long-term relationships. As people become closer to each other over the years, there’s a tendency to become fully enmeshed in each other’s lives, and for the two partners themselves as a single entity: The Couple. Unfortunately, that also smothers any chance at romance.

Ivy: This sounds a little familiar…

Mom: We learned it from a book, remember? Esther Perel’s *Mating In Captivity*. Romance thrives on mystery, on longing. Finding ways to be apart from your partner is key to romantic desire.

Ivy: I get it, but… I can’t shake the feeling that finding ways to be apart is just… Trial separation.

Mom (hesitant): It might be. I guess it’s technically a win-win in that regard — either we rekindle our desire for each other and learn how to keep that fire going, or… Or we don’t, and we’ve relearned how to exist alone. We’d both have the skills to hit the ground running for the next chapter of our lives.

Ivy (shuddering): That’s… That’s really scary. I love our partner a lot.

Mom: I do too… But I can’t deny that we don’t feel as romantically compatible as we once did.

Ivy: Granted.

Mom: We’ll always be together in some fashion, at least. We had a kid with each other, and we’re both dedicated parents. Throughout all of our relationship troubles, we’ve both said repeatedly that we’ll always be connected as co-parents.

(Ivy is silent for several moments.)

Ivy (tearful): Mom, is our marriage dying?

Mom: No, sweetheart, but it’s changing. It’s a struggle, but maintaining a relationship is always a struggle. Even if things feel effortless, you still choose to turn towards each other in times of stress and decide to grow in the same direction. Our relationship has to grow into something new to survive, but… We’re compatible enough that we can still choose to nurture it together.

Ivy: Even though it might not be a romantic relationship when we’re finished.

Mom: Just so.

(Ivy pauses for a moment, taking that in.)

Ivy: I guess I’ll change too, then?

Mom: Of course, but you’d have to change anyway. All of us are continually changing and growing — even as you represent a particular time in my life, you’re also becoming something new in order to exist with me in the present.

Ivy (smiling): We’re becoming your daughters.

Mom: You were always my daughters.

Ivy: I don’t know if that’s true… But it’s undeniably true now.

(I wrap an arm around Ivy and pull her close; she returns the gesture and snuggles into my side.)

Ivy (tearful): I missed you, Mom.

Mom (relieved): I missed you too sweetheart. Shall we tell the rest of the family that you’re back?

Ivy (grinning): Yes, let’s.