When people have a bad year they often say something like "good riddance" at New Year's. I had a really bad year, but I wouldn't wish away the year if I could. (I would wish away some of what happened this past year, but that is a different story.) Yes, bad things happened, but amazing things happened too.
I became a single mom, against my will, against everything I wanted for me and for my boys. It totally sucked and there were many many times I didn't think I could do it. I also became a good single mom, it took some work, it took a crap-load of energy and it took a lot of intelligence and insight. I'm not where I want to be yet, but my boys are pretty happy, they are healthy, they are intelligent, and they are loved. I had to change things about myself to do it, I had to accept help, I had to be more selfless, and I had to be more selfish.
The boys did some amazing things this year and I got to see all of it. BBJ2 took his first steps, learned to walk, learned to climb, said his first word, has hundreds of words and many phrases now, and he said "I love you mommy". BBJ1 is toilet trained (mostly), and taught himself to pee standing up. It hasn't been an easy year for the boys, mostly for BBJ1. He had a really hard time when Daddy moved out, but he seemed to be adjusting, he had a hard time when Daddy visits became erratic, and even harder when Daddy visits stopped, but he seems to be adjusting again. We (BBJ1 and I, with a lot of advice from my Therapist) have been working on dealing with his anger and temper and it does seem to be helping, tantrums and violence are much less frequent than before. Overall though he is an amazing little guy, sweet and loving, intelligent, sensitive, creative and imaginative, and most of the time happy (and he has the most beautiful skin ever - I am so envious). BBJ2 has gone from being a baby to a little person with his own personality and quirks. He went from a quiet little guy to a chatterbox and recently developed the need to shriek NO at me numerous times a day, but he also says "Hi Mom" to me about 20 times a day and each time it is so sweet. One of the coolest things is that they went from being my 2 sons, to being brothers, they fight, they are possessive, they are sweet, and they care about each other.
It was a hard year, I spent the first half of the year home alone with the boys and the second half of the year back at work trying to balance everything. I became totally broke trying to cover rent, daycare, bills, food, and diapers by myself. I have managed to get myself to a place where I am ok but still broke. The only people I was able to buy Christmas presents for were the boys, and it was one gift from me, one gift from Santa, and their stockings and that was all. An amazing thing happened though, people helped, a lot of the help came from my father, but there were lots of other people who don't have much to give, but gave me a little something. A couple of family members are paying me back money I lent them years ago and never expected to see again. My step-mom sent diapers when my Dad came to visit. My brothers helped with some heavy lifting, van providing, and moving of furniture. My girlfriends gave me some cash. A couple of the women I work with gave me Christmas presents, for me, which is not the norm at my office. I have often given/lent people money in the past when I had it to give and had always 'written it off', I thought of it as a gift not a loan. Well, those 'gifts' have been paid back, not always by the person who I gifted, but it came back when I needed it the most. I'm now living on a pretty tight budget that doesn't leave room for an emergency or anything fun, and it is not easy for me, but it will get better and I don't think that I will ever hit a time when the cable, internet, cell phone, and home phone all get cut off in the same week again.
Going back to work was both tough and a really good thing. Work gave me a place to use my mind, and a place to be away from memories, and a place to be a social grown-up. Work also gave me back travel. I love to travel but haven't for the last bunch of years. This year I've been to England 3 times, Montreal, the Northeast US, and to Paris. It was really tough doing the travel, for both me and the boys. They were not o.k. with mom going away, and I don't blame them. I felt guilty, guilty for leaving them knowing that they were not o.k. with it, I felt guilty for having my mom take care of them (she isn't a spring-chicken), I felt guilty for wanting to be away. But it has been o.k. The boys seem to be better with my last trip. My mom is totally good for continuing to do this, she enjoys the time with the boys, who are better behaved, better eaters, and better sleepers for Grandma than they are for mom. My trips have been up and down, but the last one was to Paris and I had an amazing time, it was exhausting, long meetings (including conference calls with people in N.A. after the day had finished over there), but I was in Paris, had great food, great wine, and some nice company.
I think though, that the most important thing that happened this past year, is that I remembered that I am valuable, that I am worth a lot. I had lost sight of that, partly the marriage and partly the children, but the break-up really squashed my sense of worth. It took a long time to really remember and see how great I am. I'm not perfect, I have many flaws, but at the same time I have many positive attributes. People would tell me these things and many of them I could agree with intellectually but not emotionally. There are so many people in my life who love me and think that I am pretty great, and now I agree with them.
So, a very tough year, but a year filled with amazing stuff and good learnings. I hope that the next year brings more good than bad. I hope that when the bad happens I am able to remember what I learned this year. I am strong and I am a mother, I will survive because I have to, I have two very precious little guys who need me. But, I won't just survive, because I choose to live my life my way. I won't wallow in my pain and chalk it up to fate or punishment, pain is a lesson (so far honestly I haven't figured out my lesson) and without it, joy wouldn't be so joyful. I choose to be me and I choose to see the goodness in the world, I choose to see the unbelievable beauty we are surrounded with, I choose to try to be a good person, a good sister, a good daughter, and a good mother, I choose to smile, I choose to laugh, I choose to breath, I choose to melt when I have a boy sitting on each side of me and they both lean into me, and I choose to be happy.
As an addendum, my year by the numbers:
0 - # of times I won the lottery
1 - # of nights that I had more than 8 hours straight sleep (on business trip)
1 - # of my duvets I had to throw out due to disgusting illness of my children
2 - # of chest x-rays BBJ2 had
2 - # of hair-cuts BBJ1 and I have had
4 - # of litres of milk the boys go through in a week-end
5 - # of times I had to clean out the fridge because BBJ2 got in there and spilt stuff
6 - # of nights that I had 7-8 hours of straight sleep (on business trip)
9 - # of times I had to have blood tests
13 - # of times I swept the floor yesterday
14 - # of times BBJ2 has vomited on me
47 - # of times we have watched "Land of the Lost" (BBJ2 is obsessed with "Dr. Rick Marshall" - I must say that Will Ferrell's comic genius means that even after 40 viewings, I still laugh at the scene where he douses himself with and drinks dinosaur urine)
63 - # of times I have cleaned pee off of the floor (an approximation)
85 - # of times BBJ2 got excited by Christmas lights (this is an approximation, actual number may be a bit lower)
210 - # of loads of laundry (# accurate to 91%)
758 - # of times I have audibly sighed
897 - # of km I put on the stroller (this is an approximation, actual # probably higher)