Saturday, December 7, 2013

Reverb: Victory Laps

One of my favorite bloggers, Meredith, over at
is the host of a blogging prompt thingamajig
called Reverb
essentially, December becomes a month to reflect on the year
through the prompts supplied by Meredith and her friends
I have decided to join, once again
You too can join if you like.  If you don't blog, feel free to join and keep your thoughts private
It is a great way to close out the year.  There is a lovely website, if you'd like to join or if you'd like to read
the way other bloggers respond to prompts. 

Victory Laps | What was your biggest accomplishment of 2013?

I was raised by a woman who was dead-set on making sure her daughters were independent.  I was not allowed to take typing class in Middle School (oh hindsight Mom) because if I learned how to type, "that's all they'll let you do."  I was also not allowed to take Home Ec.  
She earn her education by winning a beauty pagant scholarship because she had Brothers.  And if her parents put anyone through school, it would have to be the boys.  It seems almost absurd now, but back then, college was optional, especially for women who would just have babies and stay home.  
So, to my Mother, giving me everything meant giving me every choice.  
My Mom has made me promise her two things ever. 1) That time I wanted to get dreadlocks she made me promise to get temporary cornrows.  We came to a middle ground.  If ever I published a novel I would get dreadlocks because, who cares? I am an author. There is a much longer story involving me saying I wanted to shave the back of my head and her not believing me until I came home with a shaved head. 2) At the age of 20, when I got pregnant and decided I would in fact become a Mother, she made me promise to finish school.  
I have honored every promise I made her. I graduated from U of M just before my son turned 4. 
 Doesn't he look handsome in his little pea coat?

 For me and my Sister, feminist thought was all about choice.  My Mom made sure we weren't forced into anything because of our gender.  But, just like me becoming pregnant at 20, she never questioned my decisions.  Choice is choice, either way.  And that was mine.  She just wanted to make sure that choice didn't limit my future.  My Sister works as a financial adviser and her husband stays home and takes care of the cooking, cleaning and child.  Let's face it, she's not domestic but she can earn money like nobody's business.  That is her choice.

Cut to me on the cusp.  I am leaving an old life behind, starting a new one.  I have my old standby server job that has kept my children fed no matter the economy or the lazy good for nothing I'm with, who's entitled to a break from jobs.  But I also have a job at a bank, where I'm struggling with certain tasks, like counting (brain damage from heart surgery). I am excelling at selling.  (I used to earn all my pocket cash getting people to fill out charge applications at JcPenney when I was 17.)  Getting customers to upgrade or make an appointment or refinance, or....sort of comes naturally and always has.  So, my direct boss discussed the way she thought my future would unfold.  It involved NOT counting, but selling full time.  And I was ready.  There was a base salary and there was commission.  I would earn as much as I could.  I was already getting decent commission checks even though the rips on my sales were tiny.  I was also getting noticed for helping create leads for the mortgage person who had all the banks in the area as her territory.  I was ready to finally come into my own and rock it out.  I was sure I was going to be paying a heavy price in child support, but the thought thrilled me.  How long have you been working there, bro?  See, I've been here less than a year and I am smoking you on income. 

But, I went blind.  And I was diagnosed with a sometimes fatal disease.  I was not allowed to drive and I had to leave my position at the bank.  They were so amazing.  They held my job as long as they could with the hopes that I might recover.  I lost my vision in August but was technically still employed until December.  They told me whenever I could come back, they would happily rehire me.  It is something I hold on to. If the moment comes, they already know my strength is in sales and with the degree I hold, I can hire into that sort of position anytime.  The door is kicked open already.  

I guess, what I'm trying to say, 2013 involves several major victories.  During my younger years, the idea of being domestic was, unnatural to me.  But, the idea of having a career and never attending a school play or never being around for little league practice really tore at my heart.  It is why I felt so comfortable waiting tables.  I could make money and be with my children when they needed me.  I fought an internal battle.  Good independent woman who has her own?  Or Mom untorn? I opted to dip my feet in both pools at the same time. Both my career and my ability to parent suffered.  I was able to attend things, but I was so tired and worn from crawling into bed at 4am and getting up at 7am, the tired that causes physical pain and mental deficits.

When I went blind, I was afforded a certain freedom.  I took my foot out of a mediocre sh*t pool and dove into Mom pool.  I focused my energy on G.  On helping him succeed.  On researching  on finding answers, on walking into his classroom and sitting next to him on bad days, on reading him books before bed, on being the very best Mother I can be.  But the fact that I didn't earn any money or contribute to much of anything for a while, was disheartening.  

I felt bad for Chris.  He was suddenly stuck supporting me and my family.  He was paying for two homes, providing food, clothing, you name it.  And, all I wanted to do was take care of him in return.  I wanted to make sure his clothes were clean, he had dinner when he got home, he didn't have to clean the house on the weekends.  Initially, I was so sick, all I could do was lay in bed or on the couch.  He'd pack G's lunches because the smell of food would cause a violent bodily recoil after chemo. I felt completely unworthy of him and everything he did.  Never in my life has someone not related to me acted so selfless toward me. 

Progressively, especially since moving, I have been able to do more and more.  That is a victory in itself. Chris no longer has to take care of all the household chores AND provide income.  He's no longer carrying the responsibility of a 1980's woman, like my Mother was.  I can lift some of the burden.  The victory is in how comfortable I am with that.  I try to take care of him as well as he has taken care of me.  I don't see any less honor in that than what my Sister is doing.  And as a truly modern woman, I am afforded that choice.  (Although having the choice removed was what made me so comfortable with it.)  If there comes a time when the roles can be reversed, I am equally happy going to work and have him take care of domestic things.  He is too.  It is an equal relationship. 

The other major victory is G and his success.  I am comfortable in these Mom shoes.  To me it is far more natural to dedicate as much time to him as possible, than it is to roll the dice with his needs.  His needs have been really high. There is a comfort for him knowing that I am here, no matter what.  When we had some issues with the school in the beginning of the year he said, "You always have my back, don't you Mom?"  Yes, yes I do.  It's my job.  Having him get to the point that he feels smart and capable of success, has been my biggest victory. He got there, but I feel so happy I was able to help him.  It was a battle to get him into therapy and get the proper diagnosis. I am continuing to learn to be a better Mother to him and watching him shine feels really, really good. My biggest sadness was that nobody could see his beautiful heart behind all the behavior problems. Now nothing is in the way of that compassionate heart, something I have always been able to see. 

This summer I started driving again.  My vision still failed to pass the low tech vision test at Secretary of State, but my eye doctor filled out some forms and suddenly, freedom.  I am able, if I feel well enough to meet friends for lunch, to run errands and to drive G to and from school.  That moment was pure joy.  I felt 16 again.  I got behind the wheel, turned the radio up as loud as it would go, rolled the windows down, and drove the long curving road home.  The feeling was incredible.  Especially because I remember just a month before, admiring a car and thinking I would like to own one like it.  And then quickly remembering, "I can't drive, no sense in owning a car."

2013 can be summed up with quiet challenges but major victories.  As I look toward 2014, I hope to maintain the victories I've won.  I also hope to add a few under my belt.  Perhaps that marathon? But more than anything, I just want to enjoy the simple things.  The fact that I am here to do it is a victory in itself.  




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