2016: The Toughest Year in Parenting? Or Was It?

As a family, we grew under 2016’s heavy arm.
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2016 was the teacher no one wanted to get. The one you want your mom to call in and ask to not be put in her class. But I got her and tough she was.

She pushed me, she asked me to do things I never thought I could or would, she was merciless at times, but she believed in me just enough to take me further than any teacher had before. And isn’t it the tough teachers who teach us the most?

This was my first year as a single parent of three boys under 10. We moved out of our dream home, away from my parents and grandparents helping hands, away from my boys’ friends and into a new home and a new neighborhood and a new life.

Their father moved four blocks away and we were co-parenting mostly well as long as we placed the North Star above all else. (Click here to read about this concept).

Our new home will turn 100 years old soon. It came with charm and lessons all its own. I found myself scrubbing the pots I had once left for my ex, of scooping up stink bugs when before I was excused of bug duty. I called for help when digital issues were beyond my capabilities. But as a family, we grew under 2016’s heavy arm.

Together, the four of us created a new system. My boys now have real chores that not only help our house function better, relieve me of some of the many, many jobs, but will help grow them as the kind of men I want to raise.

We got a bunch of popsicles and a deep freezer for the garage and quickly made new friends. We have a more of a laidback philosophy on many things which mattered so much when everything needed to appear perfect.

We read, we play, we have cereal for dinner when the day took more out of us then we could give back. We have signs everywhere! “Always be yourself, unless you can be Batman. Then you should always be Batman,” hanging in the kitchen and another which is my fave, “There are two kinds of business: my business and none of my business.”

On the stairs leading up to our rooms is a poem I made them telling them to go out into the world and make it lighter and if they get lost to come home, because I will be waiting.

I have the 4 Agreements painted on old shutters hanging to remind me to not take anything personally. My old armoire is a bright pink pantry full of snacks for the boys and their friends.

This year has taught me to let go of anger that no longer serves me. To let go of the façade that once let others believe my life was one way and let the beautiful mess that it is be seen without fear of judgement. I teach them through my humanity. They know that mom will most likely need to go back to our house in the morning a few times to get her phone or keys or purse and that it’s OK, because she’s doing her best.

2016 has been the teacher who molded me to be better and stronger and more real than any other. And she also loved me enough to give me the community and strength and love I needed to be the mom they need. And as many have meme’d how excited they were to see her end, I look back on 2016 with exhaustion and gratitude for all she gave me.

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