Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Mixed bag of blessings

Thank goodness this year is almost over.

Usually, this is the time of year when I express gratitude as I prepare to reflect on another year with Earbaby. She's growing up, getting her mind ready to move out of our house and onto a new life somewhere in a galaxy, or state, far, far, away. Her last football game as a high school cheerleader was Thanksgiving morning, and although she still has one more cheer competition to go, her days in the short-skirted black, white and gold uniform are virtually over. Could it really have been three years since that all started?

She's nostalgic for these games, and this year's group of cheerleaders were actually cheerful with each other and fairly drama free. And here's my thanks: No more sitting on cold aluminum benches watching her shiver and pretty much be oblivious to the game and team she was cheering for. As a football fan, I enjoyed the games. Last year's work buyout gave me a chance to see all of this year's contests. There were plenty played in cold, drizzly rain. I won't soon miss that.

We had some good times this year and I'm grateful for the trip to Ireland we took with EB's school group, but as a family. My husband and I reconnected on our love of traveling, and EB didn't mind having her parents around, especially when she needed money.

And I was able to go home for Mother's Day, which fell on my mother's birthday. Being jobless also meant I could take off for a weekend, and it ended up being a party as my mother turned 93, surrounded by all three daughters, her favorite niece and great niece and nephews. Although she couldn't see anyone, having gone completely blind a few years ago, I could see how happy she was to have family there with her, laughing, making jokes, and catching up. I'll be back for my first Christmas home in decades. Who knows how many more Christmases we'll have with Mama? I'll be especially grateful if she is able to hear her youngest grandchild, EB, graduate from high school in the spring. Graduations are big deals in my family.

It's been a strange, sad year though. Of course there were highs, the weekend trips, the vacation and even the fun and frustrations as EB starts her college search. She has already been accepted at my Alma Mater, one of her safety schools. She commented that even if she doesn't go there, she now can relax, knowing she will be going somewhere. She's not stressing any more about not getting in to school. And even better, it's far, far away.

One sadness didn't seem sad until after it was all over. It was EB's first beau. Her first foray into the serious dating and relationship scene was too secretive, too intense, and in the end, too tragic. It ended badly, she came away with few good memories, a lot of bad ones and mountains of regrets she ever even met him. He in turn became mean, vindictive, and possibly even dangerous. Her lack of experience and his lack of maturity was a bad combination. She relied on relationship advice from friends who knew less about how to have healthy relationships than she did (the saying blind leading the blind was never truer), and is only now starting to rediscover herself and her former friends she abandoned to please him. But she also has to learn consequences of untrustworthy behavior: Once trust is lost, it can't easily be regained.

The silver lining is that all the bad decisions she made, she had to own up to them while under our roof. She found out she doesn't know as much as she thought (or pretended she did), and some bad decisions can't be undone, they just have to be overcome. It was a bad year for friendship for her. Her three closest friends violated her trust. So she also reaped what she sowed.

Losing one of my closest friends from childhood was a really dark cloud. It put the reality of my own mortality at front and center. Or maybe it also hit me at the worst time because my full year of pay came to an end, and months of sending out resumes and interviewing with employment agencies hadn't netted me a job. I was panicked and starting to sink into depression.

However, I'm ending this month thankful. Almost from right out of the sky, I found a new job, recruited, wooed, and hired by a former colleague. I'm back in the workforce, part time, but still making a decent salary. Yes, I'm back on nights, but the nights are shorter, some nights I'll be working remotely from the office of my own kitchen, and I found a new purpose with new responsibilities.

There are still challenges ahead for us. EB has to get through the rest of the school year, and make this last one count. I have to let go of my own hurt and anger over the lost months with her, and step into a new role in a new job. We all need to appreciate the time we have together, even as it gets closer to coming to an end, at least the day-to-day part of it. It feels like everything new is new again. Mixed blessings, indeed.

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