At the end of the first season of True Detective, as the two main characters leave the hospital they look up at the sky and and see the stars punching through the black of the night sky. Seeing this, one says to the other that the light is winning. This time of year, when the days are short and cold and I live mostly in the dark I wonder too which side is winning– the light or the dark.
December is hard. It’s hard for me and it’s hard for my son. December is a time when schedules change. School lets out for 2 weeks. My son spends more time with his dad. There is the excitement of the Christmas tree and the presents underneath, but also anxiety surrounding the unknown, the un-usual. December is like a land mine laying dormant until the end of the year. This year, I hope I can contain the damage and prevent it from leaking into the new year.
That is what my life is. I have a full time job, I’m a single mom and I run 25-35 miles per week on average, and I craft and cook too. I get up by 5:30 during the week, and at 6 on the weekends. write in the morning before my son gets up, and do chores, and make lunches. And breakfast. After he gets up, I eat, do my morning workout, and get myself ready. When the sun comes up I take pictures of my crafts. Then he and I leave the house and walk/run/bike to his school. Most mornings, after I drop him off, I run.
In the evenings, I pick up my son, go to the grocery store if needed, then come home and make dinner. After dinner is usually the time for more chores, baking, homework and then bedtime. After my son is in bed I spend the rest of my evening crafting– and right now that means knitting and jewelry making. I’m almost finished with all of the handmade gifts that I intend to give this year for Christmas (but then there are several January birthdays.) Once Christmas is done I will be able to return to knitting on my Glasgow Sweater.
People ask me where I find the time to do all of these things. I don’t. I don’t find the time. I just never stop moving and doing. My hands and my brain are never still, unless I’m sleeping. And sometimes not even then. And some days, like today, I feel it down to my bones.
To me, family is a fluid concept. There is the family that I was born into– my mom, dad and sister. There is the family that I married into– my ex-husband’s parents, his sister, brothers, niece, nephews and sisters and brother in law. When I got divorced I didn’t know who would remain in my life and who wouldn’t. I am incredibly lucky that two of the people that remained in my life are my ex-husband’s parents. They made it clear that they would be there for Owen and I and they have more than fulfilled that promise. They are caring, generous people that have chosen to be stable, loving grandparents to Owen and loving to me as well. They are unwavering in their support of Owen and I. When I need help I can always call them.
And then there is the family of friends that stood by me during the roughest time in my life. The people who showed up, trucks ready, to move my stuff out of the house I shared with my ex into the second story apartment with a narrow, rotting, staircase and no elevator. And the same people that showed up to move my stuff back down that staircase five months later and into my new house. The people that have bolstered me up when I was brought low. That answered my sobbing phone calls. That listened to the same recitation of pain over and over again. Yesterday I didn’t make the drive to my parents’ house for thanksgiving. Instead I spent it with Owen’s grandparents. Like I have almost every year since my divorce. And I will spend Christmas Day with them as well.
The first Christmas after my divorce I remember waiting until almost the last minute to buy a fake tree on sale at Fred Meyer. I had been vascillating between going to a tree lot and buying a tree or not having one at all. Finally, I saw a tree on sale and bought it. And put it up. Even those simple things seems monumentally difficult at that time. It was like I had forgotten how to brush my teeth. Or replace the batteries in the clock. The small but necessary practicalities of life seemed like mountains that needed to be scaled. But slowly, over time, I have figured out that none of them are insurmountable. I am capable. I can do these things. And I think, maybe, that is the most valuable lesson I’ve learned in the last 3 years. I can do this.