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xmasWhile I know it is not yet Christmas Eve, I decided now was the time to do some annual reflection on my life.  If you look back through my two years of posting you will see that every year at this time of year I take a quick sneak look back at the last year in preparation of moving forward into the next.

I am not a big proponent of looking back.  While I believe that not learning the lessons of the past will ultimately defeat you, I do believe that spending so much time in regret and remembrance of days gone by gives you no time to enjoy the day.

I usually reflect on my children this time of year. What they have done; who they now are. I like to read posts that I have written about my children and my reactions to them. I like to flip through photos and take my time enjoying the memories I have made with them.  I am blessed to have them and I know that I reflect and think about my children every day, every second.

This year I am going to reflect instead on myself.  My marriage is what it is.  My family are what they are. But I feel like I have undergone some monumental changes this year.

I would say this year has probably been one of the hardest I have ever lived.  Between moving, not selling our home, living out of storage and under my mother’s roof my definition as a mother and as a person have radically changed.  My husband has drank than decided not to drink as much.  My husband smoked and now has decided to quit. And I still don’t have a dime to my name.

But I am stronger.  I can feel that deep down inside. When the world around you changes so radically you are forced to take a look deep inside yourself and discover what it is that is important.  When everything becomes a suppression to who and what you are and you have to find yourself fighting to define yourself in a space that is limited, you learn that who you want to be isn’t as important as who you actually are.

I spent the year in my definition of hell. I can’t go into all the ways this life seems to have completely defeated me this year but I can tell you that I am still standing.  For instance, living under my mother’s roof for a year I have had to redefine who I am as a mother and who I am as a daughter.  You would be amazed how much you change when you go back home. No longer am I the only mother in the house; but I had to learn that I am the mother that counts.  I had to learn that my voice must be spoken and my actions must be accomplished because otherwise I am drowned out by the well-wishers and do-gooders.

I have lived surrounded by opinionated and strong-willed women (all who are in my family).  I have had to cement in my mind who that makes me.  Do I want to be cruel? Do I want to be the kind of person that steps over a dollar to save a penny? Do I want to focus on the minute details of life or try and enjoy the whole of it? And what will happen if I say no?

These are questions that some learn and some never have to learn.  Have you ever tried to say no without explanation to the people that essentially raised you? It is really, really hard.  But I am figuring out that what is best for my children isn’t best for the group; however my children take precedence.

I have not had a job in months.  I have had to learn what to do with my time, what to do with my world without escaping into my bed for hours at a time.  I have had to understand that those trinkets I want so much aren’t as important as trying to get back on my family’s financial feet.  I have had to learn to smile and walk away from something that could have meant the world in order to save my world. I am not used to sacrificing as much as deciding I just couldn’t afford something.  And there is a world a deference in those two things.

I have learned this year that I have allowed myself to spend the past so many years to lean on the world and not truly take part.  As a child this was expected; but I never grew out of that.  I never took responsibility for my part instead using my disease, my sickness and oftentimes my own laziness as an excuse.  I have used other people in order to avoid doing mundane things in my life than expected those I have loved to compliment the little I did do.  I have made others run on the hamster wheel because I didn’t want to admit that I was too lazy to do it. I am not very proud of this one but I am glad that this life has finally taught it to me.

As a mother I have learned that children are exactly what we make them to be. If we expect them to be out of control horrible beings than that is what they will be. I have learned if we skip the step where we explain why they can’t do something they will never learn. And I have learned that children will test you and test and you will fail and fail.  Part of being a parent.

I think I knew most of those things about parenthood before this year, but there is nothing like having your own mother helping with daily child care to make those lessons permanent.

I like who I am growing up to be.  I like the lessons that I have had to learn this year. For the world there won’t be any outside sign that these lessons have been learned, but I know them.  I know that I am more sure of who I am, more confident in being not what they expect but what I expect.  I know that no matter what my life is like, it isn’t because He deserted me or because karma has come to bite me on the ass. I know it is simply life.

I hope that the next year will be easier. But I hope that every year. I suppose in lieu of easier I will take happier.  I have learned not to expect happier, but then that is a lesson I learned long, long ago.