My countdown to 2014 on New Year’s Eve was loud, but with the cheers of children in my ears, not clinking champagne flutes or raucous party music. My kids and I spent the night at my also-divorced friend Hildy’s – she and I sipped Moscato and talked in the kitchen about men while the little ones drank kiddie cocktails and fought over iPads. I didn’t miss not going to a party – I got to wear my pajamas and didn’t have to worry about who I was going to kiss at midnight (my kids, duh) and spend time chatting with one of my best buddies.
Last year was a big year. A huge year. I’m not sure I’ve had so much change encapsulated in such a short amount of time for a while. The wonderful thing about all years, not just the big ones, is that our experiences teach us lessons along the way. We don’t always follow those lessons but, hey, life tries.
What did 2013 bring? Let’s review:
1. Structure. I spent much of 2011 and 2012 in a state of ambiguity – I knew I would be divorced but I didn’t know when. I knew I’d be moving, but I didn’t know where. I knew I’d get child support but had no idea how much. I knew I’d have to get a new job of some sort but didn’t know what I’d be doing. The uncertainty killed me. I felt jittery all the time, I had no appetite, I couldn’t sleep.
And then, one by one, bricks to build my new life started to stack and take shape. In February we had our financial mediation and with actual numbers finalized I could plan my expenses for my post-divorce life. Kyle and I agreed on which school district the kids would attend and I found my new place in March. It’s small but cozy and signing the lease felt like a little step toward the independence I was seeking. In May my divorce was final. I found a part time job I enjoy and continued working on my business.
2. Running. Okay, more like jogging. Running is for actual runners, I’m just still kind of a pretender. I participated in some gimmicky 5Ks (hello, stinky Warrior Dash and a let’s-throw-dyed-corn-starch-at-people race) and also a couple of pretty ones. I didn’t die. They didn’t inspire me to train for a marathon, either – I think maybe if I get a wild hair I’ll sign up for a 10K. I love how using kilometers makes me feel like I’m running farther than I actually am.
3. A name change. I flip-flopped over this issue but ultimately decided I didn’t want to have the same last name as my ex husband anymore. That implied a tie to him I no longer had, whereas my children are my children no matter my status of “divorced.” So far it hasn’t caused any issues except I keep forgetting to change my name with the TSA and therefore cannot plan any last minute travel. Because that’s so easy with four kids and two jobs, anyway.
4. First date. Got that – and my first post-divorce kiss – out of the way. Verdict: Not as scary as I had feared. The guy was forgettable, but still, I guess he’ll always have that distinction of being my first first date since 1998.
5. First post-divorce jerk. After what eventually turned out to be too much disrespect and lying to my face (why??), I had to tell Tiger not to text me ever again and also to lose my phone number. Then, for good measure, I blocked his. I’m starting 2014 fresh with the lesson that if I hear warning bells, I should, oh, I don’t know, LISTEN to them, because my instincts are probably right. I try so hard to see the good in people that I tend to give them too many chances. In the case of Tiger, I kept telling myself his red flags weren’t an issue for me since we weren’t a couple and I wasn’t planning to get attached. But you know what, even without that status, there’s just no excuse for douchebag behavior. Tiger said he hopes I find a nice gentleman in 2014. He set the bar pretty low, so, really, I shouldn’t have a problem finding a guy nicer than he turned out to be.
6. Friends. I’ve always had friends I can count on, but 2013 really showed me how much. One woman and her husband let me live with them for six weeks. Another allowed me to store things in her basement. Friends called me and wrote emails asking how I was doing. They listened to me rant and then listened some more. Girlfriends went out with me when I needed to get out of the house. Without these wonderful ladies in my life, I really don’t think I’d be as stable as I am now.
7. The realization that my children are amazing. Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “How has she not known this already?” and questioning my parenting abilities, but let me clarify. I’ve always had that deep, maternal love for my children that is pure and comes with no strings attached – the adoration will never fray. But this year, witnessing how they handled the divorce of me and their father, I learned that my children are incredible people. I know the divorce makes them anxious and sad at times, but I think we all feel a little relieved that the tension of the divorce process is over, and now we can work on enjoying each other again.
With all that 2013 brought to me, I hope to put those experiences to good use and create the things on this list for my 2014:
1. A job decision. I’m self employed but also work part time. The self employment gig is wearing on me – I don’t get vacation days, I’m the only one responsible for my entire company, my income is not reliable, and my hours suck. I have been checking job sites daily and think it’s almost time to take the leap into sending resumes and hopefully interviewing. I’m ready to make a change that will hopefully bring more financial stability to my and the kids’ lives. We are doing just fine as-is, but I’d like to build better savings and have more income for fun and extras.
2. Increased fitness. This sounds dangerously like a resolution, but it’s just something I plan to do for the rest of my life. My muscle tone laughs at me these days, as if to say, “Lady, you’re almost 40, weights twice a week is no longer going to keep the arm flab away.” I need to step it up. Get to the gym more. Sign up for some more 5Ks so I have a goal to work toward.
3. A relaxed attitude about dating. I don’t have to get married. I don’t even have to be looking for someone to marry. I just want to meet some new people and see what happens, and take my time doing it. If someone is an ass to me, or lies to me, especially early on when things are supposed to be rosy and fresh and everyone is on their best behavior, I don’t have to keep seeing him, no matter how fun or cute he may be. Nothing makes a man more unattractive than acting unkindly toward others. Everyone deserves second chances in life, but that second chance doesn’t necessarily have to be with me.
4. More time with my children. Quality time. This goes along with my desire to work another job outside of the home – my work is currently always HERE since I work from home. Clients call me at 8pm. Emails demand to be answered as soon as the kids go to bed. I feel like I’m always thinking about when I’m going to be able to finish this, this or this. I’d like to be able to have a better delineation between my career and my home.
5. Better dancing abilities. This is so trivial but I really want to learn how to dance in a way that makes me look more like a graceful woman and less like a clumsy cow. I think dancing is so much fun, but something about it just has not clicked for me. Maybe it never will, but I want to take lessons or have Hildy teach me more. If Baby can do it in Dirty Dancing, surely there’s a little hope for me?
6. Time for reading. I love to read. LOVE it. Love books, love writing. Don’t make enough time for it. This must change.
7. A more orderly home. This is often about the time constraints I work within, and hopefully narrowing down my number of jobs to just one will help, but I need a better system for laundry and dishes than I currently have. Clothes overtake my house. My small kitchen looks cluttered if there’s even just four cups on the counter (which never happens – it’s usually nineteen or so, since each child feels the need to use a fresh cup for every beverage throughout the day).
2013 – can’t say I’d want to relive it, but everything I learned will hopefully provide a valuable base for 2014 and beyond. And if you see me making the same mistakes as I’ve done in the past, feel free to whack me with words in the comments section of any blog post. Happy new year!
(By the way, former Twitter followers – I deactivated my account because I can’t figure out how to untie it from my phone number, and I don’t want to be able to be tracked that way. Maybe a new Twitter account will arise in time, but for now, I miss your tweets but I’ll be absent a while!)
Image used under creative commons license from Anthony Quintano.