It’s Easter Sunday, and for the past forty days and forty nights (the Lenten season before Easter) I haven’t done the traditional “New Year’s Resolution, Catholic-Style” of giving up red meat, coffee, or whatever food I should be partaking less of anyways.
I didn’t do the usual “do more volunteering” or “be more Earth-friendly” as if Lent was a service-learning project (which is also pretty traditional for us middle-class/ middle-of-the-road/ First World-U.S. Catholics).
Instead, I took the time to see where I had been, to see where I am, and to see where I’d like to be in ten years.
Where I had been:
I had been a damn selfish, toxic person for the better part of my late twenties/early thirties. In fact, I had slipped into classic toxic behavior so unconsciously, so mindlessly (because everything else in my academic and professional life was sane and healthy), that the only way I could escape it was to be so toxic that those most affected in my personal and social circle ran as far away from me as possible.
Only when it was just me, alone with a tiny human being totally dependent on me, did I look around and declared to my baby son, “DUDE. Your mommy was a SHIT.”
I actually went to confession — hard-core, face-to-face, blubbering-and-snotting in front of a priest — during the latter part of my pregnancy and then just before my divorce. I had to reconcile myself with not only my God, but also to that lost, arrogant, prideful person I had been for the better part of the late 1990s/early 2000s.
Where I am now:
I’m a work-in-progress, paying back past debts and being grateful that I have the second chance to do so.
Literally, I am paying down debts: I have $56.8K left of a student loan, accrued during my years as a full-time doctoral student. I have $24.1K left of the house’s equity that I owe my ex-husband, as part of the divorce settlement. But I am also paying down family-time debt, when I neglected my own family in years past, opting to spend time and money with others instead of my parents and siblings. Now, after church, I spend every Sunday with my folks (more so if they need me and I can accommodate within my schedule as full-time professor and single mom). Speaking of which —
My social life is my family now, especially my son’s, and that is SO MUCH A GOOD THING. My parents are in their 70s, with a dad managing stage-1 liver cancer for three years. My son will be nine — NINE! — later this year, and I can see the years flying by fast, so fast, too fast, when one day my only child will be a man and make his own way in this wildly brutal and beautiful (what Glennon Melton of Momastery calls “brutiful”) world.
So — yeah. To my Filipino mom’s somewhat dismay — “But you’re still YOUNG! You still look good! You should find someone and remarry!” — I’m celibate.
There. I said it. I’m pretty much living an oddly nun-like existence. I teach and mentor students and young colleagues at work. I single-mom like heck to my sweet yet at times frustrating son. I oldest-child/big-sister/weird-auntie like crazy to my family. I fan-girl over MythBusters and Doctor Who. And I write and write and write (although not enough on this blog — mea culpa!).
Therefore, the idea of me dating — of providing emotional, physical, and whatnot support to an other who isn’t already in my life, especially a complete stranger — gives me the same heebie-jeebies when I thought of dating when I was eleven years old: “No. Nope nope nope, NOPE.”
When I was eleven (and in sixth grade), I saw girls losing their own damn minds over boys, and the idea of me ever becoming like that creeped me out, kind of like succumbing to a hormonal invasion of the body snatchers. Now, thirty-three years later, I’ve come full circle, and I want to avoid all occasions of ever becoming that crazy-ass Toxic Person, so help me GOD.
Where I’d like to be, ten years from now:
Unless I lose my job or get sick for a long time or DIE — I’ll have paid off my student loan (hopefully by mid-2020) and my ex’s share of the home equity (by late 2021).
I’ll be eligible for another sabbatical in fall 2022, and I may just write another book or take some grad classes in Adult Education (with the idea of perhaps teaching EDUC college-level classes). I’ll be 50 years old by then, and I don’t want to get burned out with college teaching just because I’ve gotten burned out grading yet more freshman Composition essays.
My son will be eighteen years old in early 2025, graduating from high school by mid-2026, ten years from now. Just like my previous colleagues, I’ll likely transition the kiddo to getting an Associate’s in Something, and perhaps (by that time) have a fast-track method to getting a Bachelor’s in Something, all the while service-learning/ volunteering/ interning in something that can be practical and marketable someday so that we both prevent the dreaded “failure to launch.”
For I’ll be in my early mid-50s, and I am looking forward to being well past middle-age! Sure, I’ll have even more medical screening stuff to think of now — hello, colonoscopy! — and gravity will wreak its wrath on my muscle-and-skin tone, but what the hell! No one’s expecting me to look sexy at 54, so if I maintain even a modicum of health, inside and out, then it’s a win, as far as I’m concerned.
When the kiddo launches on his own, I may sell the house, downsizing to a smaller one; I may even do that when he’s still in college or living at home since I won’t be limited to where I live based on the public school district. This physical downsizing will just be an outward manifestation of the “emotional downsizing” I’m doing now: keeping my life as simple as possible, being grateful with what I have now, being grateful that I even HAVE a now, considering how scary and tumultuous the world has been lately.
I guess where I’ll be in 2026 is very much where I am in 2016 — happy, just older.
And, just to make my mom happy, I might even consider DATING again.
He better like MythBusters and Doctor Who. 😉