A year is 365 days, each day with the same amount of potential as the day before and the day after. The days themselves are neutral blocks of time, but what we do during each moment and our perceptions of the results of our deeds color each day as good, bad, productive, wasteful, exciting, miserable, or just another day. We remember specific dates for the extraordinary events that happened during those hours, not because the time itself did anything terribly amazing (because sadly, I’m not a Time Lord). When I look back at 2010, I see a year like so many other years with its mix of happiness, sadness, amusement, frustration, joy, sorrow, peace, and conflict. I am excited to see my own set of circumstances change with the end of K’s deployment, and doors that were previously unavailable opening up to new possibilities. But I would have felt this way in August or May if that’s when they had occurred. As luck would have it, my changes came with the actual New Year.
2010 saw me wearing so many hats, I felt like the salesman in the children’s book “Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business” by Esphyr Slobodkina. The only difference would be that when I woke up, the monkeys had made more hats to add to my pile and took none for themselves, the little furry bastards. Monkeys aside, I don’t believe for a second the length of this list is unique to me. I know lots of parents—both single and married—who also juggle so many roles it’s a wonder we are not all suffering from multiple personality disorder. But, since list-making is woven through every fiber of my being, and as a blogger of sorts, I think I’m required to have a year in review, here’s my list (from the mundane to the ridiculous) of who I was in 2010 not including the inherent hats of Mother, daughter, sister, friend, occasional substitute Dad, and long-distance wife:
Special Ed Teacher
Designer (print and web)
Gift-giving holiday character/winged tooth collector
I could be forgetting something, but that’s enough. I feel tired again just looking at that list. I’m sure that 2011 will afford me the opportunity to wear many of these hats again (please no more mouse catching though!), but I’m looking forward to passing some of them over to K to try on and make his own. I’m sure his soldier hat is looking a bit worn to him.
Looking ahead, a friend of mine has named 2011 his “Year of Adventure.” I really liked the sound of that, but I’m not sure that I could manage an entire year of adventure (misadventure will come naturally though), so I’ve decided 2011 will be my “Year of Momentum.” Not as exciting, but certainly better than the “Year of Standing Still” which is what I’ve dubbed 2010. I’ve spent the last couple of years setting aside my own goals to prepare for this deployment knowing how all-consuming it was going to be, and helping the kids reach a more independent stage in their own lives. Apparently I needed that time to stand around waiting to realize the dream I’ve always had for myself is attainable if I stop thinking about and fretting over it and actually do something about it. So this is the year I stop making excuses, put aside the jobs that I no longer enjoy and work toward making writing full time a reality (and thereby validating the existence of my student loans). I’m going to find other creative ways to bring in some money on the side (can I interest you in some baklava for your next social gathering?) since writing is not terribly lucrative right away…or potentially ever. I’m also going to teach myself Japanese (something I’ve been interested in doing for a long time as well) and see where that takes me (perhaps I’ll have an adventure after all!). Like most people, I could stand some improvement physically, and some inner peace wouldn’t hurt either, so making some effort in those areas will be a part of my day, too, but I’m not attaching any specific goals (or God forbid success-proof resolutions) to them. Beyond that, I’m going to try to remember to just be me. No hat required. I think that last bit is going to be the most challenging. Reaching for a hat is a reflex.
One of my favorite hats this past year was Family Digital Historian (a.k.a “photographer”). As you can see, we came full-circle and ended the year in the same way we started it: with a smile. I call breaking even a good thing.
I hope you did too.