When I was 17 and pregnant with Emilee, my mom brought a friend of hers home. This woman's name was Paula. I remember during our initial meeting, she got on my nerves because she was bossing my then one and a half year old daughter around. I can see in retrospect that she wasn't 'bossing her' per se, but rather she was simply asking her to listen and behave. I had no idea then what a huge part Paula would play in my life. A year later, Amanda and Emilee's father was gone and I had no idea where and no notice that he was leaving. It was Thanksgiving and Paula had invited my mother and myself to her Thanksgiving dinner. I hadn't wanted to go. I had a baby and a toddler and I was extremely depressed over the situation with their father. I went anyway and had a nice time. Paula always has a conglomeration of people at her home. Old and young, hippies and straight and narrow, babies and grandmothers, family and friends. She calls these people The Farkle Family.
Friends Acquaintances Relatives Kin and Likely Extensions
Over the years, I saw Paula off and on. She holds two annual events that I attend:
*Her birthday party dubbed September Party. This is a three to four day long event. People travel to come and camp out on her property. They play disc golf and cook an insane amount of food. People drink and smoke and have a great time. Paula orders t-shirts every year and has them tie died. Everyone who wants one gets one (I have four). They are dated and the design is always slightly different.
*The second event is the Cookie Swap. This is the one I really look forward to. We have anywhere from seven to fifteen attendees every year. The set up is that every woman (or occasionally man) makes a dozen cookies for everyone else. So if there are ten people coming, you make ten dozen cookies, individually wrap them and bring them to the bar. We had the Cookie Swap at the same bar for years, sadly it was closed this year and we had to move to a new bar. Anyway, it has become one of my favorite events. I get to spend the evening in the company of a group of diverse and interesting women. We get to catch up on the past year, have a few drinks and a really good time.
I can honestly say eight years ago, I never would have thought I would have such a close friendship with a woman who is thirty years my senior. But Paula has come to be a person I greatly respect and admire. She has helped me out more times than I could possibly list and she has taught me the most valuable lesson I have ever learned. Independence. She has taught me by example and by lessons how to accomplish things I never thought I could accomplish. Everything from changing the belt in my washing machine to unclogging my own sink to proving that having a man in my life isn't a necessity.
I respect Paula's honest opinion of me, so when she stopped by two nights ago and told me exactly what she thought of me, it made me think. Here is a woman who has know me for eight years. Who has essentially watched me grow up. And as she informed me Wednesday night, thinks I have grown up well. She complemented me on a lot of things and really made me realize that I *am* doing a kick ass job as a mother, as a friend, as a woman, as a sister and daughter. And I am doing said kick ass job alone.
She briefly summarized my life and situations since she has known me and more or less told me how she proud she was of me. Pointing out, for example the fact that I hadn't spent the $140 bucks on the 5 year extended warranty for Irwin and Betsy (washer and dryer - see below) because I told her I could change out any belts myself. She laughed and told me that five years ago, those words would have never passed through my lips... and she was right. Five years ago I would have assumed that the guy did that or your hired someone. Five years ago, I would never have taken my sink apart with out a manual, lol. I've realized, I'm not scared to try something I have no idea how to do. In fact I am damn proud that I have the ability to learn and to try and eventually to accomplish any task that I put my mind to. This includes being a single mom, which was the last thing she told me. That she was impressed with the way that I raise my kids and how determined I am to be exactly the kind of mother I said I would be.
Almost eight years later, I am a proud member of The Farkle Family and I certainly consider Paula a surrogate mother of sorts. And you know what? I am proud of me too. It's nice to hear someone tell you that you are doing a good job every once in awhile.