Single Mom Slice Of Life:
When Your Birthday Suits You
We’re all told we can be anything we want to be when we’re young. Then, at some stage in our lives we look back and think, “Why didn’t I?” So while at my birthday dinner last week, when a friend asked, “So, what do you see yourself accomplishing this next year?” I actually paused and had to ask myself: What about me do I want to change? What about me could be better? What do I want to do when I grow up? Why didn’t I choose the bread pudding instead of cheesecake for dessert?
The boys are still in Georgia with their dad, so after dinner (and what was most definitely NOT a New York cheesecake), I sat on the couch, sipped from my glass of Moscato, and immensely enjoyed the Oscar-worthy acting in Magic Mike and realized: I actually knew the answers to most of the soul-searching questions birthdays tend to bring.
I have the family I want. No, I’m not happily married umpteen years and counting with the dozen kids I always knew I would have. Instead, I’m a divorced, still-single mom with two teenage boys who, on a good day, tolerate one another. This year though I realized that it’s taken me a great many years to be comfortable with me, and I have no business trying to be in a relationship until I can do just that – become comfortable in my own skin. As for the super-sized family, well, I have created an amazing adopted family who loves us as much as we love them on good days and bad, holidays, weddings and funerals. My kids have become their kids, and the familial ties have become so strong, it’s odd to NOT calling them family.
In between getting married, having kids, surviving domestic violence, getting divorced and raising kids, I ended up putting a lot of things on hold over the years. I used every excuse available to me: money, time, ability, money (yeah, I used that one a lot). I discovered this last year that the only one that held me back was me. I went back to school, finding both the time and money to do so. I made honor roll, proved to the kids that they are their biggest obstacles, and found the desire to keep it going. Sure, I had to stop again due to outside factors, but have plans to return again this upcoming semester.
My personal dream of being a published author came true last year, my book earning 4.75 out of 5 star reviews, requests for a second book coming from as far away as Australia, obtaining an official editor complete with deadlines, and not just a little amount of pride attached to it. I am able to speak up for myself more than I have in the past, and though some people aren’t used to it, it’s teaching me who has kept me in their lives because I’ve been passive and willing versus those who have honestly appreciated what I’ve offered as a friend.
All in all, in the last year, I’ve grown, as a person, as a student, as a parent, as a writer, and it happened without a start date, or a deadline. I’m not saying I’m perfect now, or that my goals have all been met; but I don’t need a birthday to use as a marker to try and better myself, my world or to reach for my dreams. All of that seemed to happen with no shortage of support, belief in myself, and not just a little hard work.
What do YOU see yourself accomplishing in the next year? Have you taken a look back and seen what it is you can now check off your list? Let us know.
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Wendy Syler Woodward has been a single parent since 2002, with two boys ages 13 and 18. Originally from southern California, Wendy moved her family to Phoenix where she manages a law firm for work, writes for fun, and has returned to college for her B.A. Follow her on Twitter @WendySyler .