So, this is the first holiday season as a divorced, single mom, and I have discovered that, without a Hubby, without in-laws, without the vast and interwoven network of friends that we used to have as a couple but now has fractured into awkwardness and polite avoidance, my life has become very, VERY simple:
1. My job. 2. My kid. 3. My writing.
Because of my previous life of substituting a vast network of friends for my actual immediate family, my parents and siblings are used to me not being entangled in family issues and activities, which has been a boon as I’ve pretty much turned asocial introvert, only desiring to spend most of my energies on those aforementioned Top 3.
Even with giving my younger sister financial and emotional safe haven in my house, I haven’t gone all “surrogate mom” on her, giving her the liberty to do what she needs to do to get back on her feet. Most days, I don’t really see her except in the wee evenings and the weekends, which is cool.
As THE PROFESSOR, I can concentrate on showing up on campus, doing my job description, and then going home.
Once home, I always intend to do a little bit of grading, but that never usually happens, as my focus has shifted to “HOME” mode — mom, housekeeper, food preparer. As long as the little guy’s awake, nothing beyond “PG” rated stuff passes by my lips, the internet, or the DVD player.
Once the little guy is down for his bedtime, then I become THE WRITER and slog away at this novel that I’ve been working on since late July into the wee hours while either Foo Fighters, Coldplay, or the Beatles are on constant replay on YouTube.
Rinse, lather, repeat.
In talking with the ex-Hubby recently (we still are cordial, casual friends) and hearing how complicated and stressful his life still is, I truly feel grateful for having returned to this simple life of work-home-write.
It mirrors my young adult life, before life got all complicated with hormones and boys and shit, when my life was just school-home-write. Back then, I was ridiculously productive in my writing, churning out short stories, poems, and even a couple of rather crappy novel-ish stuff.
Now, after a decade of giving up on an alternative world sci-fi novel because of incorrigible writer’s block, I have literally handwritten (longhand in pencil, that is) a manuscript that is 130 pages of college-ruled, spiral-bound notebook paper. This is how I wrote all of my stories as a teen, how I wrote all of my college papers, and even how I wrote the first draft of my dissertation. Very primitive, very old-school, and very simple.
(I have no idea how long this manuscript would be word-processed, but I’ll leave that for Christmas Break, when I actually type up the draft once the rough is completed — sometime around the first week of December, I would guesstimate.)
I have a life now that, for the first time in a very long time, actually feels balanced. And it was the painful destruction of a previous life gone increasingly complex — with me believing in and practicing “suffering smarter” bullshit — that is at root to my feeling balanced and (I’ll likely jinx this) pretty content these days.
Would I advocate getting a divorce, losing the majority of friends because of it, and having the full responsibility of house and kid, just to gain contentedness? No. No no no no no — that would be silly.
If one’s marriage is solid, one’s network of friends is thicker than blood (especially if family is far, far away), and if house and kid would be horribly and irrecoverably damaged, then a person should already be grateful for what he or she has, and be content with it.
It’s just I haven’t been so fortunate. Or stubbornly persistent. Or virtuous. Or all of the above. The more complex my life got, the more stupid and self-damaging my choices would be. It was almost as if, in thinking I was sooooo smart, I got sooooo stupid.
As God is my witness, I will not make that mistake again — all by keeping my life stupidly simple, so I won’t get lost in my own life again, and remembering to be grateful with what I have now and now and NOW.