There are a lot of things I haven't done very well this year, I'll tell you right now. I've wasted a lot of time and spent a good bit of energy feeling bad about stuff. As I go about the business of this rush-around life I've had to shush the little voice inside my head that keeps listing all the things I should have gotten to, the things that I felt deserved more attention than I had or wanted to give. My garden for instance? What usually looks like this:
Ended up looking like this:
And when I say it "ended up" like this, you should know that I planted it and then completely became unable to care for it. I didn't harvest a single thing from this usually productive space that I can see from my kitchen window. That takes some effort, my friends, because I seeded it abundantly. I literally watched from my kitchen window as the invasive morning glory vines strangled every thing out there. That is, until I couldn't take it anymore and began keeping the blind on that window drawn all the time so I wouldn't have to watch the take over. But every day when I passed through the yard on my way to the shed where I keep my bike, I willed myself not to look in the same way one does when passing a highway accident. I saw a groundhog out there one day and instead of chasing him off, I cheered him on, glad that someone was enjoying those tomatoes.
You might be surprised by how much energy it takes to shush that little but persistent voice. Or maybe you wouldn't be. I suspect that this little voice pesters the hell out of a lot of people.
This blog is another thing the voice has nagged about. Six months passed, seven, nine. ... Once in awhile I half-heartedly started a draft and then gave up after a pathetic paragraph or two. During that time I was constantly drafting sentences in my head but they never went anywhere. What do I really have to say to people, anyway, I'd think. In the years since I started writing we had somehow emerged from our long stay in that uncertain place we landed after Oliver's diagnosis when I wrote: "We're not quite the family we were and we haven't yet found how all of these pieces will fit together to create the family that will see us through. And as individuals: mother, father, brother, we haven't yet learned how to fill those roles in this new context." I remember those feelings vividly but I'm not that person anymore. Today, I feel confident and strong in my role as Oliver's mother. Mothering has come to feel so ordinary. Nothing to write home about, really. Why bother? But then Issy Stapleton was on everyone's lips again and I was reminded of why I've kept writing all these years. My voice is small but it is my job to do what I can to amplify the message that my son deserves the same basic human rights as everyone else.
I've also let the cooking and cleaning slide, I can't be bothered planning meals, I never know what's for dinner, the laundry is always piled up somewhere, I have no idea where the shin guards or the long pants are, sometimes the recycling piles up for weeks before I manage to remember to drag it to the road, I'm pretty sure the dust bunnies have started a campaign to take over the house and heaven help you if you get a whiff of Sami's feet. Guilty. I feel guilty about it all, because I used to care about these things but I haven't done them very well this year. And if I look at the list of things that I used to put my energies into that I don't anymore, it's really quite long.
But if I'm going to be fair to myself there are a few things I did very well this year:
I began to make my own health a priority by working out regularly and addressing my chronic exhaustion. Because really, no one wants to be around me when I'm complaining about being tired all the time! I supported Oliver in his quest to become a public school student, because he is awesome and he deserves it and because I really, really missed sitting through three hour IEP meetings! I also made being present with my boys a priority this summer by packing them up for two long and incredibly wonderful road trips -- in which there was camping -- that taught us at least as much about ourselves, each other, responsibility and fun as we might have gotten in a year's worth of gardening, cooking and doing the laundry together. During those six weeks on the road with my boys I faced a lot of fears and learned that each of us was far more capable than I had imagined in so many ways. That alone was worth the great lettuce and tomato sacrifice of 2014!
So, I did a lot of things not very well this year, a few important things very well, and I'm counting myself lucky because it is only November 2nd so I still have time to even the list up a bit before we close the books on 2014. And hopefully, I'll be back here writing about it a little more regularly.