I can't believe it's been a year. A year ago I wrote this and I pretty much decided to completely change my life. I was naive and scared and I had no idea the roller coaster I was in for.
I have no regrets.
Change isn't easy. You don't just wake up one day and think "you know, I think I'll make my life harder today!" But starting over, for me, was first a realization. Then that realization grew and one day I did wake up and said "I'm ready." And now, looking back, I realize that I wasn't ready at all! There is no way to prepare yourself for a total life upheaval. There just isn't. You take the step and feel the air under your feet and hope beyond hope that you land softly.
So, I think the thing people want to know is how the kids and I are doing now.
Me? I still find myself in awe when I describe myself and my life. A year ago I didn't even have my own bank account. Now I just started a new job at one of my favorite places in the whole world (Starbucks. Of course.) I had to learn how to pay bills, along with how to shop at Home Depot and how to kill spiders. And I learned the pride that comes with seeing that paycheck and watching it provide for your needs. Sounds so simple, but it really isn't. Last year we had a Christmas tree with presents all around it. And every one of those presents was provided by some amazing people who love our family. This year, there will be one present for each kid. Those are the presents that I bought and picked with care, and I have to say that I am bursting with excitement over the upcoming Christmas morning. While I am beyond grateful for what we received last year, I am so very proud of our "pauper" Christmas. And I have no doubt my kids will smile just as much.
My new job is coming with two big advantages. One is that I will have insurance. I have not, in my adult life, had dental or vision insurance. When you have my faulty teeth and eyes, that is a major problem. I could weep with relief. The second advantage is that they will be paying for the completion of my degree. Yes, finally, I'm finishing that up! I've already got a semester under my belt and I'm loving it. Yes, the deadlines might kill me and finals gave me an ulcer, but I'm loving it, I promise!
And those are the labels that I find myself wearing. A part time employee, a full time student, and a full time mom. Because even when you share custody, the mom thing is always and forever. I am still getting used to the custody part. While I'm not yet officially a divorcee (which sounds like such a cool word, very misleading) we do have a parenting plan in place and I'm glad. The kids get great quality time with each of their parents and I think they are thriving. While this isn't what anyone plans and hopes for when they first have kids, it isn't as horrific as I'd once thought. My little loves have consistency and they have a Mom and Dad who love them. It isn't all sunshine and rainbows, but it never is. It never was. The progress that they have made in the past year is just astounding to me. A year ago I was worried about regressions and possible behavior problems and speech troubles and all the things that might happen. The road hasn't been bump free but these kids are rocking life right now. I'm so proud of the people they are and the people they are becoming.
There is also this big part of my life that you don't hear me talk much about but that doesn't make it any less. I love a woman. And she loves me. She has a little boy with autism and I love him too. I want everyone that reads this to know that just typing this tiny little paragraph makes me smile like you wouldn't believe.
I didn't know that life could be this beautiful and this hard and this rewarding. I'm so very glad I took the step. I know I'm one of the lucky ones. If you are thinking about changing your entire life, think hard. Because it is hard, in case I haven't mentioned that enough. But for me? Worth it. Oh so very worth it.