Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Close of Another Year

This year, 2010, started out rocky and actually didn't turn a corner until just a few weeks ago.  I've been working so hard and so much the last quarter of this year;  maybe the hardest in the last three years and I've been fighting just to tread water.  I have yet to master the balancing act of wife/mother and work.  It's been no secret - hell it's one of the reasons I started blogging, that I do not want to be a working mom.  I've really struggled with the guilt and emotions of feeling like by working that I've failed my family in some way.  The big girl in me knows that I go to work because if I don't go, I would fail them by not being able to provide for them.

With work going crazy for me, we were in great need of quality family time.  Each year our kids save their money to go to Disneyland.  Since I haven't found a way to make them work for real wages this consists of what they get from family during birthdays, holidays, or the spare change they find when picking up around the house.  Sure, we probably should take the money and put it in a college fund, but where's the fun and lesson in that?  Some years they save enough and others, well, they have to wait until next year.  This year we told them they didn't have enough, but they did... and a few weeks ago we took a surprise trip to Disneyland. 

My kids who are now 7, 5 and 2 are still young enough to believe just about everything that we say to them.  When we moved them from their warm beds to the (not-so) awesome mini-van at 1:00am and they asked "Where are we going?" and I said "A special store only open in the night and they won't let you in unless you're sleeping when you get there" they bought it.  My Big Girl was a little bit of a tougher sale, but eventually I agreed to get her something from the $1 section (anyone else shop at Target too?) and down she went.

My husband and I went that whole day non-stop, from park open until close on only a few hours of sleep.  We were delirious at best, but the joy and fun from this trip was the best we'd EVER had.   It was so good to literally be reminded of why we all like about each other.  My favorite people in the world are in my very own family.  Not only did my husband and I love our kids more than ever, I think we also loved each other a little more too.
This Christmas we really scaled back on gifts, but no one noticed.  It started out very routine with the typical family shuffle and ended a beautiful disaster.  For the last few years now, my family has come over to my house for Christmas dinner.  The first few years were poorly planned and the meals consisted of whatever take-out was open and were mediocre at best.  This year I made a nice dinner and everyone came over to hang out and visit with the kids.  No fancy gifts, no forced conversation, no make-up; just easy. 

I think it was my husband who shot the first nerf bullet across the kitchen and tagged one of my sisters.  Within minutes my dad, my brother, my husband, my kids, my sisters and even my sister's fiance (who has the personality of a rock) were running, dodging, shooting, strategizing and laughing through my house...in the words of my father, "This was the most fun Christmas we've ever had."  My house paid the price, but it was so worth it...strategies for next year's "war" have already begun.

In the last few weeks, the constant ache I have very literally felt in my heart these last three years has eased a bit. It is still there and it is constant when I leave every morning in the dark, but the guilt is slowing starting to melt off.  Watching my kids play and interact effectively with each other and family made me recognize how much they've grown.  Here's the shocker:  everyone is happy, healthy and just where they need to be...  imagine that.  I do the best I can and so far, we're all okay.  I will keep doing this however long I have to and I've come to accept that there really may not be an end in sight for me, but oh how I hope there is.  If me working is the worst thing that ever happens to our family, we will be the luckiest people I know.

No question, this has been a tough year, but I think 2011 looks promising. Every year I go through all my resolutions for the new year, "Lose weight," "Exercise more," "Quit my job," "Be more patient"...  This year, I'm only trying for one thing.  I just want to find peace with myself...if it's possible.

Here's wishing everyone a safe and happy New Year ahead! 

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