“They” say this is the time of the year to reflect on your yearly posts. Ach. Hit and/or miss. So many left in drafts because they were written late at night after work ended and there didn’t seem to be much ‘me’ in them; or maybe, too much of me in them. I look at the scrapped titles: “Adversity”; “Humanities at (roughly)450 mph”; “Need Cheese with my Whine”. Hmm. Insert eye-roll here. LOL.
So yeah. Here’s the down and dirty to save you a TL,DR experience if you’re inclined. This year was fookin’ tough. Take adoption-process special needs 7-year-old, add hellacious work experience, layer in moving, financial floundering, adult child drama, add a dose of exhausted, seasoned with a bit of grumpiness and self-doubt, range set to ‘occasionally ignite unexpectedly’ and baste in a nice sauce of “‘WTF do I do now?” Voila! 2016 in a nutshell 🙂
Have some amazing electronica with that: (kick ass song to start off 2017, imo)
For those of you still with me, here’s the more granular experience and the thoughts that accompany it (and maybe some music thrown in!)
What I thought was going to be a temporary living/child-keeping experience has turned – permanent. Honestly, at inception I thought “I can do this!” Most days now I wake up and think “WHAT was I thinking?!? Move your arse and get out of bed.” Raising children in your twenties and thirties is tenuous at best, wearing you down; but you recover fairly quickly, youthful resilience and all of that. In your fifties? Bwahahaha. Yes, I have more(?) wisdom at my age. I can sometimes sort out what is worth fighting over and asserting my responsibility role as parent-by-proxy, other times I let things go. Ain’t gonna die on this hill. And, honestly, sometimes I default to “BECAUSE I SAID SO” (sotto voce: dammit.) The reasonings behind that are beyond a seven-year-olds comprehension (even some older, if I may be so blunt). But the cost? Oh, the pound of flesh is about up to 2 lbs I’d wager. Emotionally, nearly every day I feel like a wrung-out dishrag. Spectrum children additionally diagnosed with ODD and ADHD have boundless tenacity for sticking to a repeated meme. The internet’s got nuttin’ on them. They could raise the viewer level to viral in no time flat. And with only 16 hours of a break in toto the last three months, I’m pretty cooked.
And at other times, the capacity for awe, wonder and information processing simply amaze me. The mental agility to grasp complicated concepts, the absorption of mathematical principles, the continuous “What?” “Why?” “How?” hunger, makes me smile. I am a words person by nature – he’s a math person by nature. Black and white is his norm. I live over in the slidey greyscale world most of the time. So the resiliency, the anger, the curiosity, the innate abilities, blow me away. After you hug-hold a thrashing 55 lb body so filled with anger, spewing hateful things and your brain tries to balance the known versus the unknown while letting him work it out until he’s calm, well, you’re used up. Then you have to go to work that day and act like it’s all A-Okay. That’s my life.
While this song is meant to reflect a romantic relationship, this is how I feel about the boy:
Room for interpersonal relationships? Hah! There’s nothing left inside of me. The child is enough, then I add on three adult daughters with varying circumstances, my parents as they fight aging, and what little room I have in my heart goes to friends. A partner? Fat chance indeed. Maybe a prince with a magic wand would make the cut. Otherwise? No. Dice. Got nada, zero, zilch to give. Honestly, I tried. Met a nice, thoughtful retired man, in person. Treated me with consideration. In the end, I simply could not take on the 50’s woman model and be the wage-earner, the caretaker and the doer-of-all-things. We are still friends, but it took its toll on me and my concept of partnership. There was nothing wrong with his expectations except that I could not, and felt guilty for being unable to, meet them. I needed caretaking at the end of the day, and he wanted caretaking. It simply did not mesh. I am not WonderWoman (in either looks or abilities!) I am not afraid of being alone. I am afraid of not doing my best by those who count on me.
My AT plans have been put on indefnite hold, as I cannot take the boy out of school for two months to meet my realistic can-do plans in regards to time to complete. We may do it in sections, I don’t know yet. This responsibility has made me re-think everything. To risk all that I have to either make or break my dreams was acceptable for _just me_. No matter how, or where, or in what state the pursuit of living on the land and moving towards more self-sufficiency ended, I know that I could rebound in some fashion. I could do without; I could start over after giving my best. But the boy? Can I take that kind of gamble with HIS future? Alternatively, can I shove my dreams, my heart and personality into a box that constricts, confines and deadens me? I do it every single day that I do not move towards where I want to be. I claw my way through to ignore the whispers of “What is this costing you?” What kind of person does that make me? Weak and afraid? Self-deprecating and martyr? Sacrificial? Selfish? At the bottom, I am pragmatic even if my dreams soar above the stratosphere. I know I have to master certain skills, abilities, safety nets. By the time I do that with the additional financial burdens of raising a child, I may be too old to pursue them, in reality. Too mentally frail to maintain the tenacity of mind needed, much less meet the physical demands of the dream.Or, maybe not, so I press on.
Last night, while waiting for the midnight madness, I started looking through boxes for some papers. That led to three hours of time travel backwards into photos, notes from my kids, the ashes of my late husband, and so forth, all to 70’s R&B soundtrack in the background (when not overpowered by the amazing, near professional quality, fireworks of my neighborhood!) It reminded me of the joys of my life as much as the sadness.
I lean into 2017 with the following as my guide – some thoughts, some music, and a quote or two.
I have been at crossroads, at starting over, so many times in my life. I have lived through divorce, through the death of my spouse, through the loss of my ‘forever home’, through the loss of so damn much. Yet I’ve welcomed six grandchildren into the world, and absorbed two more through marriage. I’ve been on the ins and the outs with my immediate family. I’ve been judged, found wanting, proven myself, and fallen to the bottom again. Each time I have stood up, yet again. One of my daughters offhandedly referred to me as Daenerys Stormborn (I’m late to the table with GOT, so I’m hoping that is a good thing – but I’m surely not her look-alike, hahahaha). My takeaway from D’s prodigious abilities is that I can go through the fire and remain standing. My family crest is also red and white, but alas, no dragons, only a bull in some renditions; in others a knight. Related to the Viking Kings of the Isle of Man supposedly, and of the clan McLeod – “Hold Fast” is our motto. In 2017, I will hold fast.
I’ve found a few quotes that really resonate with me, mainly from Stoicism, which I’ll use to ground my thinking going forward.
“What really frightens and dismays us is not external events themselves, but the way in which we think about them. It is not things that disturb us, but our interpretation of their significance.” – Epictetus
“It is not the man who has too little that is poor, but the one who hankers after more.” – Seneca, Letters from a Stoic
And lest you think I will embrace 2017 in a far too serious mood, I will close with this one…
“The funny thing about writing is that whether you’re doing well or doing it poorly, it looks the exact same. That’s actually one of the main ways that writing is different from ballet dancing.” – John Green
We live in a time where we can watch awesome stuff like this for FREE!!
Drop a quote in comments that reflects your charter for 2017.
Cheers all 🙂