I said several times this year that I would have no problem saying goodbye to 2013. It was, by all accounts, a bit of a crap year.
I worried myself sick this year. My mom fell and broke her ankle in 3 places and had surgery twice. The boys had their usual bevy of orthotics appointments, therapy appointments, and the like. But 2013 was also the year of multiple health scares, weird lab tests, genetic tests, and a less-than-pleasant screening that possibly saved my life. (There’s nothing sexy about having a colonoscopy, but there it is. If it makes one other person likely to go in, fine, I’ll say it: I had one. The prep drink is horrifically awful. The drugs are very nice.)
Back in May, I went to what I thought was a very typical post-screening appointment, only to have a very wide-eyed nurse assure me over and over that I was one lucky woman. My screening — checking out some post-pregnancy stuff, just to be on the safe side — caught 3 symptomless polyps which had a very high likelihood of becoming cancerous by the time I was 40.
Screenings don’t typically begin til 50 (I’m 33).
I got lucky. And though I don’t think about it often because I’m morbid enough as it is, I can’t help but shake my head and be incredibly grateful that the strangeness and stress of that season yielded something very good. (Even if I do have to repeat the test in 3 years).
This clear lack of control over my life this year accomplished much more, however: it brought me to the end of myself. To quote Anne Lamott, I finally acknowledged that I had run out of bullets. I probably needed to seek out support years ago when A was first born and I was struggling under the weight of so much love and terror and worry and tiredness, but my pride and stubbornness kept me from it.
This year I was stripped of that option. There was simply too much going on to maintain my illusions of “just hang on a little longer.” I wanted to take care of myself — for my own sake, and because I knew that if I wasn’t strong, I couldn’t BE strong for my kids.
So. I went and talked with a really nice lady once a week who helped me straighten some stuff right out.
I let go of some heavy burdens. I figured out how to talk myself down. I reluctantly accepted my highly-sensitive nature a little more. I said some overdue I’m sorry’s. And I let go — mostly — of the compulsion to try to run around and manage how everyone else is feeling. I started to let people own their stuff, even if it meant they had to work through being unhappy with something I unknowingly did or said.
This leaves me with a lot more energy for the things that really matter. And on that side of things, this year was glorious.
I grew in my career. I’m closer to the work I really want to be doing than ever. We have great child care (finally).
I heard a beautiful, perfect, clear “mommy” for the first time. A learned his ABCs and numbers and how to spell and say his own name. He started saying, “Aye-uh-oo,” which, of course, means “I love you.” My F started walking and then running. He just started asking to cuddle at nighttime and keeps signing for “more” whenever I finish singing a song.
And oh, that man I married. I learned over and over this year what a funny, tender, patient, steady man he is. I trudged through plenty of days where I was so anxious I didn’t know quite what to do with myself. And he just stuck by. Listened. Said what I needed to hear (even if it was just a truly horrible, deeply inappropriate joke). He took things off my plate. Loved our boys. Let me sleep in on the weekends.
We’re not quite to the easier part yet. Not even close. But I think we’ll get there and I’m less scared of the not-yet than I used to be.
Tonight the kids ran around our living room mostly naked while Justin roared and scared them to shrieks of delight. The baby ran up and laid a big open-mouth kiss on me while his lanky brother tackled me sideways. The boys half-hugged/half-wrestled each other toward the stairs as they said goodnight.
In that moment, it was hard to feel like anyone has it better than us.
I hope you feel the some of the same tonight. Happy New Years.