Compared to many people out there, I’m sure my 2008 was a banner year. I know there are families out there who lost jobs, who lost homes, worst yet, who lost children and other loved ones. Compared to them, my 2008 was fantastic, so I won’t pretend to feel sorry for myself. I don’t. I have an amazing job, two incredible kids and wonderful friends.
But let me tell you something… I can’t get rid of 2008 fast enough.
I spent January of this year still readjusting from deployment. It was a weird time. The kids didn’t know what to think or how to act around me, having spent most of 2007 raised by their father and their mentally unstable big sister. Imagine my utter joy at having to instill rules back in their lives! The Redhead and I instituted mommy/Redhead reading time, and we would sit down for about 45 minutes each night (or until my vision blurred and I couldn’t read anymore) reading books he found interesting.
February saw the complete and final demise with my eldest daughter, whom we adopted 8 years ago. Someone got accustomed to being the “woman” of the household while I was away, so when I returned and said, “You will study. You will not stay out until 11:00 on weeknights. You WILL attend school. You WILL find a job and pay for your own car insurance and outrageous phone bill. And you will not dress like a whore,” someone didn’t like that too well. She crashed her car, and blamed me for it, because I apparently didn’t teach her how to drive, because I was deployed. She started failing out of school, and blamed me, because her father and I weren’t getting along. You see where this is going… The situation culminated with police being called one night, and my finally issuing an official eviction notice in the spring after having been lied to for three months about where she was working. Use your imagination, readers. What job would a young adult be deathly afraid to admit to her fairly strict mother? Here’s a clue: it involves poles, body oil and lots of smelly, toothless men tucking dollar bills into places that aren’t usually exposed to the public.
It’s not that I’m morally opposed to that type of employment. Hey… you’re an adult. It’s your body. It’s your life. You should be free to sell it. But as I told her when she came over to pick up the rest of her stuff, “I don’t care if you decide to be a whore. Just be an honest whore.”
In April, the husband got his own place. We tried working things out, went to counseling, etc. I’m convinced we’re better off friends than we would be as two miserable roommates. I don’t ever want the kids thinking that two miserable people living together is a normal marriage. We made a commitment to raise the kids together, and I think we’ve done admirably. He’s welcome at the house as much as he wants, the kids spend alternate weekends with him, and we do things all together on occasion. I check on his place and pick up his mail when he’s out of town, and he house and dog sits for me when I take a trip. There have been no quabbles with money. The civility is nauseating, but absolutely genuine.
In July, I headed to Tennessee for a fun four-day weekend with Oleg, Dave and Frank. Even though Oleg and I had known one another for the better part of 8 years, we never actually met in person. We spent those years getting to know one another by phone and Internet. Dave and Frank just appeared in my life out of the blue during the visit, and I’m lucky to have them in my life. Very lucky. Despite the fact that Dave, on occasion, threatens to roast his dog, and Frank, on occasion, beats me at Scrabble.
At the end of the summer I buried my best friend.
Emotionally, it’s been a gut-wrenching disaster of a year. It took me a while to get accustomed to being a civilian again after a year and a half in uniform. For several moonths I kept having dreams that I was back in Kosovo – not scary bad dreams, but dreams about not being able to leave, because I left my military ID and orders back at Camp Bondsteel type dreams. I would wake up completely confused, not knowing where I was. I took a nosedive up – yes, UP – the stairs in the garage of my old office, because I wasn’t used to wearing heels. I had to scrub all bathrooms spotless at all times, because I still felt kind of dirty.
But there is a bright side. Very much so. I reconnected with more than 100 old friends thanks, in no small part, to Facebook. I have spent hours chatting with people I haven’t seen for more than a decade, catching up and relishing the fact that they’ve grown up to be fascinating adults. Some of my Army buddies from my AFN days have also joined Facebook, and it’s been an absolute joy reconnecting with Herb Glover, Jen, Rachel, Hank and a boatload of others!
I met Frank, who brought my ego down a few notches, as I thought I was Scrabble Goddess of the universe!
I met Dave, who has become my closest confidant and the person on whom I rely for sage advice whenever my head isn’t screwed on straight.
I got my own website, and a few really fantastic new readers who contribute much via comments! Thanks, guys!
I connected with my kids on a much deeper level. When you go through family upheaval together, you either get stronger, or you fall apart. We got stronger. We spend a lot more time together. We have family movie nights. We have dinner together nightly. We have ice cream together nearly every night as a way to spend some more time together at the table catching up with the events of the day. We read together. We have honest, emotional and intellectual conversations. And if you think that talks with an 11 and a 13 year old can’t be intellectual, you really should check what you’re doing with your own kids. Kids aren’t stupid. They’re attentive and sharp. They listen and learn. So if you treat them like idiots, that’s what they’ll learn. Think about that.
And I still have my close buddies, with whom I grew a lot closer this year thanks to a marked decline in negative influences in my life. My Sgt. Major… or Ed – a name I will NEVER get used to, because he’ll always be Sergeant Major – is a wonderful, dedicated and intelligent man, whose judgment I trust implicitly. Will, Tara, Bridget, the Sniper and Mrs. Sniper, AJ, Sue, Angel, David Codrea, Rachel and Misha and my new friends Jen and Brian have been absolutely vital in ensuring that this year didn’t turn into a complete disaster.
Overall, while I think the good things outweigh the bad in sheer volume, I’m ready to leave 2008 far behind. I’m also ready to face 2009 with a positive attitude, so I wish all of you a very happy New Year!