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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Another Year Has Come and Gone

2015 started on a sad note for me. Thing 3 was out of the hospital and in a rehab center, still recovering from his wreck. But, things got better, and all in all, 2015 was good ... and much better than 2014!

The highlights of 2015 were buying a new house, Thing 2 getting engaged, and my grandson being born. I mentioned my new baby grandson last, but we was, without question, the best part of the entire year.

As 2015 closes, I have much to be thankful for. My kids are all happy and healthy. I have some really great friends ... and I have Superman, who makes me happier than I ever thought possible.

I know a few people that had a very difficult 2015 and will be more than happy to see the year over and done with. I've had more than a few of those years myself ... and when you've had a really tough year, it feels good to close that chapter of your life. I know nothing really changes when the clock hits midnight, but it's a symbolic new beginning.

No one gets a free pass at life. No one is immune to the inevitable pain and sorrow that come from living and loving. Every life is full of good and bad moments. If everything was always good, we wouldn't be able to appreciate it ... it's those hard times that make the good times even sweeter. I try to remember that it's the cold, dreary gray of winter that makes the warmth and color of spring that much more beautiful.

You can't always control what life throws at you, but you can control how you deal with it. When tragedy strikes, you can fight your way to the other side or you can cower and cry. You can make a plan to deal with your new reality or you can sit back and wait for someone else to make things better. Adversity defines who you are ... strong and brave ... or weak and whimpering.

I always chose to be strong and brave, even when I felt anything but. By day I was a tower of strength, but there were many nights, when the kids were asleep and the house was quiet, that I would fall apart. I'd allow myself to have a pity-party for a while, then I'd put on my big-girl panties and pull myself back together. It wasn't about me anymore. It was no longer about my happiness or the dreams I had to let go of ... it was about three innocent little kids who depended on me for everything. It wasn't their fault my life had fallen apart. My choices had brought me to that point and it was my responsibility to get us all out of it.

And so I did.

It didn't happen overnight, but it happened ... because each day I determined to make life better than it was the day before. I spent years worrying and wondering how to fix the problems I had created, but my kids never knew anything was wrong. They never wondered why Mommy was crying because they never saw me cry. As far as my kids knew, I was the happiest woman alive!

I got tired of pretending to be strong and brave and happy, but I kept pretending because my kids needed to see that. I was their barometer ... if they saw me as happy carefree, they were, too. Had I moped around, projecting fear and misery, they would have been fearful and miserable, too. I couldn't do that to them.

And so I didn't.

I worked my butt off to give them the kind of life they would have had if they were raised with two parents (and two incomes). They had new clothes and lots of toys. They got the lessons they wanted and went on nice vacations. They fell asleep each night with a full belly in a warm bed. They grew up knowing that they were safe and loved.

Now that they are grown, I've shared some of the struggles and sacrifices I had to make, but as children, they were oblivious to them. Good. That's how it's supposed to be. Their job was to learn and play and grow, and my job was to love and care for them, and to teach them the things they needed to know to succeed in life.

And so I did.

I made mistakes along the way, but I apologized when I was wrong. And those mistakes were made out of love. Even though I made some wrong choices, I did what, at the time, I thought was best. I was hardly a perfect parent, but I did a pretty good job ... and I'm proud of all my kids. They are beautiful and funny and smart. They are capable and creative and resilient. They are kind and caring and generous.

Being a parent is hard work ... a lot harder than you realize when you're fantasizing of what life will be like when raising a baby. But all of that work is repaid in spades in hugs and kisses and giggles. God entrusted three young lives to me and expected me to do a good job raising them.

And so I did.

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