This year has been about balance, or lack thereof.
With her father passing away and her own personal life pretty much entirely being about pregnancy and babies, Josephine feels slightly worn down.
Exhausted, if you will.
The boys take up almost every hour of the day and typically quite a few hours of the night, too, because with two small kids it’s always some germ floating around or a fussy phase waiting to happen, always something that makes it hard for them to sleep well.
Josephine works a few shifts here and there at the restaurant as well, not wanting to be away from her career for any longer than she absolutely has to now that it’s finally going somewhere. At the same time, she feels guilty when she works because the boys miss her at home. Tim tells her it will be fine, either way. She’d really like to believe him.
All things considered, Tim is the best stand-in father Imogen could ever hope for, and that does make things easier. When Josephine is at work for odd shifts and long hours, he makes pie and watches movies with her, makes sure she does her homework and picks her up from her friends’ houses in the afternoons.
Josephine often feels Isaac is never anyone’s number one priority and maybe that’s the case with number three in general – there aren’t enough parents to go around and babies are not good at voicing their opinions, after all. But then again he doesn’t seem to mind and is a fairly content little fellow so she supposes they’re doing it right.
Leo is growing up fast since he became a big brother but she tries to remember how very little he still is, too, in case she suddenly starts expecting too much of him.
It’s hard sometimes to remember to be there for Imogen as well, to see her and notice all the things going on in her life. For so long it had been just the two of them and they will always have a special bond, be closer than Josephine imagines she can ever be with the boys. And somehow she always knows Imogen is going to be okay. She’s tough and smart and kind – and getting straight As in school at the moment, which is definitely something to be proud of.
To celebrate her achievements in school, Josephine takes her out for bowling and burgers.
Just the two of them, a mother and daughter date that ends up being a lot of fun for everyone involved. Imogen wins the bowling game and convinces Josephine she needs an ice cream dessert, which she gets on account of being both a straight A student AND a bowling champion.
It’s a wonderful day in all its simplicity and Josephine will treasure it for a long while. She hopes her daughter feels the same way.
Since Josephine’s father’s death, Ada has sold their house and bought a new one for herself and the kids. It’s slightly roomier but that’s not the reason, she’s claimed. It’s the memories. Raising three children without their father is hard work even without constant reminders of where he once where, all the little places that still hold pieces of him.
Josephine can hardly imagine being a widower at her age, her heart shatters every time she thinks about her stepmother.
“I knew it from the start,” Ada says whenever they discuss it. “That we’d never have enough time.”
“Yeah,” Josephine has to agree. “But still.”
“Yeah. Still. None of this is how I had it planned in my head, you know? I wanted to get married fresh out of college, back in the days. Be a young mother, have a whole football team of them and then be a young grandmother.”
“Life has a way of messing with your plans.” Josephine scratches the back of her head, smiling a little. “I should know.”
Their new place is a work in progress, but it’s a lovely little townhouse in a lovely little street and Ada has put a lot of energy into decorating it to her tastes. A new start, for all four of them.
She knows her dad hadn’t left any money when he died, knows he had been in debt and pretty much an economic failure by the time he retired and that he’s always been deeply ashamed and troubled by that. Not that it had been a secret – Ada isn’t well-off, but she’s still poured the main portion of the money for their previous home into the lot and she’s always been the only one working. Being a widower won’t be the end of her, Josephine knows.
There’s comfort in that, somehow.
“You’ll be fine,” she says, “won’t you?”
Ada hesitates for a moment, as though she’s really thinking about the subject before giving an answer.
“I will,” she says, eventually.
Lots of dramatic things have happened to Josephine’s little circle of friends over the last few years and it’s at least good to meet Petra and remind herself that most of these things are good things, positive changes.
Petra certainly has turned her life around for the better with a new, loving husband and an adorable daughter – not that her two older kids aren’t adorable, but Josephine knows how much Petra had wanted to start a new family with Rutger.
“I might have good news,” Petra says today as well. “But it’s very early so don’t get your hopes up.”
Josephine grins. “You’re pregnant? Oh please tell me you’re pregnant?!”
“Just found out.” Petra looks so happy it almost makes Josephine’s heart burst. “If things go well, I’m due in July next year.”