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Love in the new year, and learning to make Vietnamese spring rolls

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Did I mention I’m solo-parenting a toddler? I definitely have a newfound awe and admiration for single parents everywhere! While I admit 2012 wasn’t all that bad – there was a trip to Vietnam to meet my husband, a paperback book launch – it was filled with plenty of angst and stress. I realize now that many of these events and circumstances were beyond my control. Yet I was riddled with unnecessary anxiety and/or reacted negatively to them.

In hindsight, I can come up with any number of, “What if?” scenarios.

What if I kept calm and didn’t raise my voice at Isaac when he wasn’t behaving the way I wanted him to? Then maybe I wouldn’t be wracked with guilt in the thereafter believing I was traumatizing my son and ruining him for life.

What if I listened patiently every time my dad complained about a new ache or pain, or expressed concern that his memory wasn’t as sharp as it used to be (aging has nothing to do with it, of course!). Instead, these could have been happy dad-and-daughter moments spent over a cup of coffee, especially if the topic at hand could be diverted.

If I had chosen love in these circumstances, perhaps I wouldn’t have expended superfluous time and energy getting worked up, upset, frustrated, etc., etc., you know what I mean. Thankfully, it’s never too late. We are just a few steps in the new year but I’ve already savored the power of choosing love.

The other day, the cashier at Target had a face so sullen it rivaled Posh Spice’s – aka Victoria Beckham’s – perpetual pout (am I dating myself with this analogy?). Instead of condemning her off-putting attitude silently in my mind, I complimented her on her gorgeous red top out loud. That coaxed a smile out of both her and me.

When my toddler asks for one more book, yet another sip of water, anything he can think of, to put off going to bed, I take a deep breath, tuck his blanket under his chin and hold him till he falls fast asleep. This phase won’t last forever (I hope, gulp …). I’m off to a good start, don’t you think?

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