Thursday, January 6, 2011

I'm Saying Two-Thousand-Eleven (Babble)

I keep coming across articles insisting we call this new year “twenty-eleven” and that we should have been saying “twenty-ten” and that the whole “two-thousand” thing is wrong wrong wrong.  I think this is the dumbest thing to be upset about ever so I’m sticking with saying “two-thousand-eleven” just to bother the people it bothers.  Plus I like the sound of it better.  We don’t all have to agree!  As long as people understand what you are saying, we don’t all have to say it the same way.  This is true of issues that are actually important, so why anyone wants to fuss over the ones that aren’t is beyond me.  Are people just that easily bored?  I have some yard work those people can do.

Anyway, I’m glad 2010 is over, whatever you want to call it.  There were some incredible highlights, and we have arrived at a place of balance and contentment (as much as life with three kids and our own business will allow), but I was surprised when I looked back on this past year at how much of the struggle I had already blocked out.  I don’t think of myself as a person who is able to completely live in the moment, but I do tend to develop a myopia from wherever my current vantage point is.  I have a hard time dressing for weather I know is coming later in the day, for instance.  When the kids are playing sweetly, I feel as if they will always play sweetly.  But things change from minute to minute (both the weather here in Wisconsin, and the moods of my children), and even though while it’s winter I can’t believe spring will ever arrive, I do know better.

When I look back a year ago and I think about the kind of stress I was under I’m not sure how I got through it.  Living with Ian in Iraq was like a constant pressure weighing me down all the time.  Living with that level of fear underlying everything for such a long stretch isn’t healthy.  I’m calmer.  I’m getting more sleep.  Just imagining myself at this time last year I get a clenching sensation inside my chest.  So I try not to think about it.
Having Ian home again also makes me realize how abstract the wars are for civilian families.  It’s something I keep track of, but on the same level I keep track of other news, and it makes me sad but not desperate anymore. 

My own kids even said recently how nice it is that the war is over, and I had to correct them.  I told them other people still have soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.  But if it doesn’t touch you directly it doesn’t have any urgency.  It’s just one more depressing story among many.  Now that Ian is home we are on a level with everyone else in terms of being asked to sacrifice for the cause, which is to say, nothing is asked of us at all.  No wonder the wars continue.  They are easy to forget for most of the population.  When I think back just a few months ago to how I followed war coverage vs. now, I’m sort of stunned.  But I need a break.  I can’t hold it so close anymore.

2010 was the year we moved.  I’ve blocked a lot of that experience out, too.  How did I move with three kids and my husband away?  It took so, so long.  Months and months and a million trips back and forth across the street….  When I think about the adjustment of making the new house a home it’s weird now.  Our new house is home.  When I think back to how claustrophobic I sometimes felt when trying to organize the old house I remember why we moved.  I love our new home.  And I love being settled in it and knowing what parts of the floors squeak and which rooms are chilly in the winter and listening to my kids run around like we own the place because we do.  We won’t have been living in this house for a full year until April, but it feels longer.  Because when home feels right it’s hard to imagine it wasn’t always that way.

In 2010 my son started school!  That’s a strange transition to think back on.  A year ago he was at my side all the time.  Quinn slept in my bed, and came with me on all my errands, and accompanied me to work.  I loved all the time I had with my little boy.  There are still some lingering effects of all that single parenting, though.  There is no way for us to know if he would have had trouble warming up to his dad if Ian hadn’t been deployed.  They get along fine, but no one would dispute that the boy prefers me.  I cling to the stories of how my Uncle Joe at age two wouldn’t have anything to do with his father when grandpa returned from the Second World War, because you would never guess that was possible years later when they were so close. 

Few things mark the passage of time more dramatically than getting to observe the development of small children, and it’s incredible how much my youngest has grown.  He was my baby at the beginning of 2010.  Sure, a baby who knew all the countries of Africa, but he had baby fat and wispier hair and only pretended to read.  Now he can actually read, and he’s teaching himself cursive.  Shirts he was swimming in last January are starting to look tight.  (And Mona and Aden are practically exploding out of their clothes they are growing so fast.)  My baby isn’t a baby a year later.  He’s a big kid (as he likes to remind me frequently) with his own friends and his own work to do.

I’m amazed the violin store managed to survive 2010.  While Ian was gone and with Quinn to care for all day we had really erratic hours.  The sign on the door for most of the year read: “Open by appointment or chance,” which people found amusing unless they actually needed something.  I am so grateful that we have loyal customers willing to work with us, because I know how much more convenient it is to deal with a store that simply has real hours every day.  Even in a bad economy we still came out in the black so I feel like our little shop is a small business success story.  2011 starts the fourth chapter of that story and I hope it’s a good one.

I lost my grandma.  I found a new friend.  I got my husband back in one piece.  We settled into the home I plan to die in because I never want to deal with moving again.  I learned how much I can really handle and when to ask for help.  2010 makes me tired looking back on it, but it was a year with a lot of important moments that will make it stand out from others in the decades to come.  I hope people reaching for great dreams achieve them in the coming year, but I for one would prefer to ride the status quo for awhile.  I would like this new year to be far less interesting than the last, no matter what we call it.

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