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The Dark Side

written by Anena 28th April 2012

Way more fun than a hangover

A year ago right now, I was probably hungover. A typical Saturday morning in bed, lamenting my decisions of the night before, wondering when I was ever going to learn to pace myself.

Nowadays my weekends are a little different. Friday nights have become Family Movie Night: last night I introduced my kids to Indiana Jones. Today, instead of lying wretchedly with the pillows over my head, I have I mediated disputes, lit the jiko to cook beans for dinner, potted houseplants with the boys, and cleaned up pee—and it’s only noon.

I didn’t see this life coming. When I moved to Kenya three and a half years ago, the divorce papers weren’t even signed yet; life was me-me-me, my do-over, and I was loving it. I didn’t really choose to become an adoptive parent so much as fell into it by mistake. I got all save-the-world and took in these two teenage orphan girls, putting them in school, but I never really committed to the Mom lifestyle. Even when I started dating a Kenyan man with three foster kids of his own, I sat on the fence. I’m sort of a mom, I’m sort of co-parenting with this great guy, but mostly I’m a single girl starting her life over and pursuing her own career….right?

Nairobi’s a fun town to be single. If you’re a divorcee back on the market, it’s a straight shot to Saturday morning hangovers and groaning with regret when you see who’s calling. My low point came when I realized that, for yet another month, I had overspent and was now struggling to pay my bills. I was 34 years old. I had kids relying on me. The do-over was fun, but it was time to get serious about being an adult.

I got a life coach. I committed to my man. I got serious about showing up for my chosen daughters. This January we all moved in together—Mommy, Daddy, and five kids. No more running around the Westlands party scene, no more all-nighters. Instead I read books to the children, assign chores, lecture them about oral hygiene. I’m a full-time career woman, but now I’m also a full-time mom.

What surprises me most is how much I don’t miss the party life. I go out occasionally, but the last couple times, I just couldn’t get into it—the crowded dance floor, the slick-haired teenagers, the lame pickup lines. I hated myself for being so old, but—I just wanted to be home with my kids.

Little Miss Do-Over has gone over to the dark side.

Today is a gorgeous sunny Saturday, and instead of lying in bed swearing to myself I’ll never be so stupid again, I just got back from a long walk with the kids. We strolled through the market selecting mangoes and onions, bought some of the Blue Band they can’t live without, and came home to read a couple chapters of Harry Potter out loud before our favorite Mexican soap opera.

Do I wish for the me-me-me life back? Once in awhile. But this particular Saturday, I’m right where I want to be.

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