Further evidence of my incredible photography skills.
The sun was shining straight into the Tahoe house and the kids were watching Home Alone 2, and I was finally (finally) revisiting the blog. I was going to write about how being a parent of small children sometimes just doesn’t offer many chances for reflection. And just when I was typing that, my children decided they were bored and wrestled one another off the couch, so I stopped reflecting in order to keep the peace and set up a craft station. If that’s not life in a nutshell half the time, I don’t know what is.
Part of the problem with taking a loooooong hiatus from the blog is that I never quite know how to return to it. It’s like gearing up to see a boyfriend you’ve spent the summer away from: Will things be weird between us? How much do I recap what’s happened over the last two months? Do I just pick up like nothing ever happened?
A little of both, I suppose.
These last two weeks were the weeks when everyone — and I mean everyone, from Matt Lauer to the fashion bloggers to my spinning instructor yesterday morning to the people I hang out with — was talking about how we are all so ready to say sayonara to 2016. How it was just a year that needs to end, and not soon enough, so we can all start over…whatever that means.
There is much I can’t deny about this line of thinking. Those year-in-review newsreels have been crushing. So. Much. Bad. News. Hate and ignorance and genocide and that whole November 8 fiasco (and the fiascos of the weeks and months leading up to it, sigh).
Maybe that’s part of why I had to take a time-out. Sometimes it’s cumulative: there’s the chaos in the Big World, all bundled up with the things we can’t control in our own little lives. The pace of work. Other people’s driving on the freeway. The pain of friends and family.
I just needed to shut it all down for a while, take a creative sabbatical, figure out my thoughts. Late in the summer I started seeing a therapist for the first time in my entire life, and began noticing — for better and worse — the patterns of thought and behavior that govern me. I realized I had some post-traumatic stuff going on from the car accident and some power/control issues (ha! you think??) that were giving me trouble at work and also in managing my spirited and all-too-intelligent children. (In other words, I’m a Type-A working mom with two small kids and a perfectionism streak, which anyone who reads this blog probably could have told me in the comments section at any time. Oh, well. Better to work it out for myself.)
But then came the break. Longer than usual, with a full nine days off leading up to Christmas and another nine on the back end. My husband’s company policy of shutting down between Christmas and New Year meant he was off for nearly two weeks, and we just took our time rolling through the holiday. Family outings and mother-daughter/father-son lunch dates. A successful (FINALLY!) holiday concert experience. Ice skating on the Embarcadero. The movies. Small. Intimate. Peaceful.
We drove to Tahoe on December 26th and Babygirl made snow angels on the deck of our condo while LittleMan tackled the 1500-some pieces of the Lego Millennium Falcon. It was cold, and wet, with hours indoors, and this year that was okay.
Do you remember the post I wrote about our trip to Santa Cruz at Easter? How it was the first time since having kids that travel really felt easy, and fun? This Tahoe trip was that experience all over again. At my father’s (their Papa’s) encouragement, the kids braved their second time on skis, gritting their teeth down the bunny slopes while my dad held Babygirl between his legs and my husband skied backwards to catch LittleMan. (For the record, I also attempted this but ended up a tangle of skis and poles with LittleMan on a shady slope, until my husband literally hiked up the mountain to rescue us. The Family Athlete, I am not.)
We drank hot chocolate (them) and Bloody Mary’s (us) and cracked jokes and DID NOT COMPLAIN (well, only complained a little bit) — about the boots or the snow up the backs of their jackets or the many, many layers of clothing or even the sunscreen. When we got home in the fading light, the kids insisted on staying outside and throwing snowballs until I called it off shortly before dinnertime as we were all turning into blue-lipped ice-people.
A warm bath. A big plate of spaghetti. A hug from my mom.
In 2016, I learned that sometimes seeking help is a sign of strength. I was reminded that the bravest decisions are often the most painful ones, and that the most necessary conversations are often the hardest ones — even (especially) on the national level.
I also learned that I am never too old to make intelligent, caring, and cool friends.
I cherished the fact that my children are healthy and generally turning into pretty awesome people. People who sleep well. People who like school. People who create.
I relied on the fact that my marriage is strong. We laugh. We eat good food. We work hard, together and for one another. We plan. We dream.
So yes. 2016 was a tough one. The back half, in particular. But Life? Life is good.
This is what I take with me into 2017. I am grateful.