Tag Archives: single parenting

Forget Resolutions: Adapt and Celebrate

Celebrate

My youngest son & I celebrating!

The end of 2016 started to remind me of kilometer 36 of a marathon. I was pained and weary, yet it was too early to get excited about the beer waiting at the finish line.

I believe that no matter what the calendar says, a person can always make a fresh start. It just seems that when we have a new year stretching in front of us, it’s clean and unsoiled–full of potential. It doesn’t have the scuff marks and broken wheels of last year’s misdirected piece of baggage.

For me, I think resolution is too strong a word. I prefer “adaptation.” It seems more permanent somehow–not just an all or nothing scenario.

For many, the world seems like a frightening place at the moment. And despite the negativity and (often) helplessness people are voicing, for my family, this seems like it’s going to be a damn good year.  I feel a return of the positive spirit that was ground out of me last year.

So my “adaptation” is to celebrate.

Reason #1 to celebrate: my visa was renewed for two years.

TWO YEARS!!!

If you’ve ever dealt with visa renewal (typically an annual process that makes you feel like you’ve been dunked under water for a month); then you’ll understand that having a two year permit allows me to breathe a little. I can make contracts for cell phones. I can get better health insurance. It means that next Christmas I won’t have to worry about deportation (yes…our visas expire just after Christmas–very festive).

Reason #2 to celebrate: my oldest son!

If you’ve followed my blog, then you’ll know that just over 2 years ago, my oldest son left for Guatemala, and I had no idea when I would see him again. He was back to visit this fall, but the news that makes my Mama-heart leap out of its chest is that he was accepted into a university in the UK, which means he’ll be within driving/train ride distance.

But it’s more than the proximity that makes me happy. When you see your (mostly) unschooled child not only get accepted into a university but into a school where he can become qualified for his dream job (where 95 % of grads find employment, many animating for Disney or Pixar, for example), it definitely makes you want to break out the champagne.

Reason #3: I have too many reasons

Love, life, kids, health, writing, my apartment, a job prospect…

I could go on and on….

My life is far from perfect. I worry about my little dog who’s ten years old and ill. Politics and inequality make my blood boil. I find labrador hair in weird places in my house, even after I vacuum. Sometimes I don’t know how I’m going to help support my kids in college (I’ll have 2 enrolled this year). When it’s cold out, my car sounds like it’s dying (every time the motor starts I feel like I won the lottery).

However…

…one adaptation I’m making in 2017 is to focus on the celebrations. To find one good reason every day to toss confetti into the often hazy air of my life.

This is why, despite all the turmoil on the world stage, and sometimes in my own living room, 2017 is going to be great.

There is always something to celebrate.

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The Real Buttercup

snatch copy

Some days, I don’t want to toughen up.

I just want to be Buttercup.

But single moms can’t afford to be soft.

It was an exhausting week, with monumental occasions and sheer exhaustion culminating in a slight breakdown where I cried in front of the kids, while baking a frozen pizza.

I had an interview Monday in Munich and walked away with a job offer.

I had an interview Tuesday in Nurnberg and walked away with a job offer.

I sold two vehicles, juggling the insane schedule of the vehicle registration & inspection offices, US and German, which were further constrained by US AND German holidays–and all of this business HAD to be completed by May 30th.

I’d never bought or sold a car in my life, and this month, I did both.

But sitting there on the cold kitchen tile, watching through the grimy glass as my comfort-food heated up, I couldn’t help but think about the woman I used to be. She was cheerful (mostly), sweet and soft, blindly ignoring major marital problems so she could keep the happy status quo.

She was quite often miserable and heartbroken, but the facade was there; and she had a sort of Pollyanna gullibility that seems endearing upon reflection.

She was Buttercup.

But that woman has changed a lot; and I find myself wondering if it’s possible to be both tough and soft at the same time.

This is a difficult time, transitioning to a new life, and a million thoughts go through my head: Will I get a life? Will I really be happy again? What will my life look like in five years? Hell, what will it look like next week?

Some days I feel alone. Utterly. Totally. Alone.

My friends and family (who just read that statement) are now saying something like, “YOU are NOT alone–I am here for you!!”

And you are.

But eventually (and rightly so) you fade into the shadows, and step back into your own lives.

And it’s just me again.

Drinking a glass of red wine and writing a blog on a Saturday night.

I suppose the utter alone-ness I’m feeling is simply because I’ve had domineering other-ness for 20 years.

I’d better learn to like myself.

I’ve taken a gamble by trying to carve out a life–a real life–here in Germany. It’s one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do.

On Thursday, I woke up two hours before my alarm with a stress migraine. I wanted to give up–to lock the door and sleep in my dark basement room and let someone else take care of things for a while.

Then I had one of those fitful sleeps where I dreamed I was in the guest room of my Grandma’s house, where I stayed after my Aunt Kathy died (of cancer…way too early); and Grandma was taking care of my kids while I just slept and slept and slept.

As my alarm chimed, it dawned on me: there WAS no one else to take care of things. And even if I WERE to retreat to Grandma’s spare room, that’s not exactly the life I envision. I have to be tough to make a life for myself.

I need the toughness to deal with bureaucracy. I need the toughness it takes to be humble and ask for help. I need the toughness to weather the emotional storms that unexpectedly drop from the sky like tornadoes.

Buttercup couldn’t handle it.

But the woman she’s becoming…as coach Rob once told me…she gets shit done.

And this is where I am. I am hanging in there; persevering and working for a life of my own. It’s not easy. I don’t like being tough all the time. But maybe someday, when things get settled. When I find my place in this little world. I’ll be able to let my guard down again. Just for a moment. To know that the world isn’t all harsh. That I can trust again. That it’s okay to be happy and not worry about things so much.

Buttercup is still there somewhere. She didn’t die.

She’s just a lot stronger now.

And maybe this new Buttercup was actually there all along.