On every dimension that I value or that keeps this household afloat – emotionally, physically, financially – I will say it again: it’s been quite a year.
Last year I dared to write a letter to the new decade, imploring the universe to grant a bit more light. This year I am not so lyrical. Reflective? Yes. But marching forward with focus.
To be honest, there were times I didn’t think we’d make it – to this semi-break at year’s end, to the final flourishes in my younger son’s necessary tasks, to the same daily shackles that remain an honor and responsibility, to waking and saying “we did it.”
Yet here we are.
There will always be challenges
This year brought the lowest of the low, and some very harsh realities to face, as a family. But we’re hanging on. These are rugged economic times for many, and we’re no exception. The financial climb out of the deep well of divorce is not over and may never be. But I’m nothing, if not a fighter, and I am working a project, using my skills, and immeasurably appreciative – and grateful – for both.
Then there are my adventures in our American health care system that feel more like a tumble down the Rabbit Hole than anything else – another low point that lasted more months than I let on. But I’m doing better, no thanks to a handful of miscreants, and very much thanks to one exceptional physician who found something surprisingly simple which was addressed.
The parenting profession
My life as an irritant? I certainly know how to bump and nuzzle my teenage sons. Parenting is not for the faint of heart and ideally, it is a team effort. The emotional, physical, and financial drain can be overwhelming. Then again, so are the rewards.
My first born is thriving in college, and his younger brother picked up the slack in the gray hair department – my gray hair, in case that wasn’t clear. By way of example, it was no small feat encouraging him to apply to a rigorous summer program, then convincing him we’d find the money if he got in. He applied, he was accepted, we found the money, he attended, and he worked his little adolescent ass off. He came home to pronounce the experience the best thing he’d ever done.
He persevered through these past months of onerous workload, though the household remains under Socratic siege as essays and portfolios are completed this weekend. It’s been tiptoeing and tightrope walking when it comes to parenting style, navigating the precarious space between recognizing independence and the reality of a mini-mountain of nagging.
Late last night my son popped into my room with an unanticipated request – a party, to ring in the new year with friends.
Right. Cleaning, shopping, and more worries. The necessity to create sufficient floor space to sleep at least a half dozen. And yet I took a breath, attempted to view the world through his 17-year old eyes, and said yes with the usual conditions.
I agreed without resistance, knowing that this is the hallmark of my parenting: yes to the importance of friends, yes to the acknowledgment of hard work, yes to energy and laughter in our tiny rooms, yes to safe haven, yes to the place we call home, for now.
Beyond words, there must be people
I have accomplished more than I thought I would in 2010. I have fulfilled my single parenting tasks. I have paid some bills. I have continued to write. And I write, and I write, and I write as though my life depends on it.
Perhaps it does.
I write because it is my reason for rising. I write because it is my dreaming and my emergence from nightmare. I write because my world is constricted and words enable me to gut it, to spirit myself beyond it, to breathe in and breathe out, deeply. I write to make sense of the nonsensical, to make nonsense of the quotidian when nonsense is the only rational response I possess in an irrational world. I write for solace, for singing, for celebration; to learn, to unlearn; to remind myself that I am here, to remind you that you are here.
Sometimes I let you into my private spaces. Sometimes I wall you out, though you cannot gauge how much or why; these are my necessary fences.
I have shared the pleasure of your writing and the delights of your friendships. But beyond words there must be people: those whose names I may not know today, those whom I may cherish tomorrow, those I will encounter in the years to come. Because my heart is healthy, and I want to feel its blood pumping. Because I still believe in the beauty of exchange between men and women. Because I still believe in Page 19.
Because I still believe.
I know what I want, I know what I need, I know desire, I know capacity.
While I do not make resolutions per se, I know that in this coming year, I must nudge, harass, and cajole myself; I need to get back in the game, and create a life beyond words.
So where does this leave me, as I look ahead?
- Proud of my sons, and privileged to have parented them.
- Recognizing accomplishments despite the obstacles.
- Wondering about the future, and hoping time will cradle me gently.