FROM THE INVISIBLE OBSTACLES SERIES

Little Wins

AMERICAN CRUCIBLE, Part 5

As told by Arpine Babloyan
Photography & Editing by Ashia Ray

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Divider line“The nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens, but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”

L.M. Montgomery, ‘Anne of Avonlea’

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Mother and daughter walk in outdoor mall beside pergola shade

Image Description: Arpine holds Bianca’s hand as they walk along a sunny path in an upscale outdoor mall.

SOMETHING IN BETWEEN

If I had told myself that this too shall pass, at that time I just wouldn’t believe it. I didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.

Knowing what I know now, I would tell those of you going through this now to try to understand what the next step is, whether it’s paying off a certain credit card or making it through the end of the month, something that would make you understand that the tunnel is not that big – there is something in between.

That will help you get a little more motivated to keep going.

 

Mother and daughter smelling tea at David

Image Description: Bianca smells tea leaves at a store counter while Arpine pays at the register.

BIG LITTLE THINGS

Before, I couldn’t appreciate the little things and how important they are. I always thought big – huge goals, huge ambitions, huge plans, and little details didn’t matter.
But I know now that they do matter – sometimes they matter more. That was the biggest thing I carry, appreciating little things and being thankful.
That whole situation made understand that it’s not all about the money, it’s not all about having this new fancy toy or clothes or things, it’s about spending time together and appreciating what you have and not taking them for granted.
It was a process, because I was used to a certain lifestyle. I wouldn’t say I was able to have everything that I wanted, but I had things like getting my nails done every week. Letting go of things like that and acknowledging that my life is different now – it’s not worse, it’s just different.
That part was tough – but once I figured out how to focus on the feelings of an experience and not how much I spent on that activity – then it got easier.

 

Woman smiling in David

Image Description: Arpine holds a coffee and smiles as she browses through a colorful, airy store.

COOKING SELF-THERAPY

Cooking was another way to relax without spending money. I had some free points on an old credit card – and with those points I got myself a Kitchenmaid mixer and I cooked a lot.

I found some calm in following the recipe. It was just… step by step, another distraction, and it was fun and it was practical too – it wasn’t like I was golfing or something, it was a meal we were going to eat. I really enjoyed trying different recipes and using my mixer. I love that thing, I still have it.

The fact that I am half-Russian and half-Armenian left its imprint on my life. I remember growing up in a house where hospitality was cherished. My father always had friends, relatives, and even friends of friends come visit, sometimes people were out of town and needed a place to stay, and our home was always open, welcoming.

My mom always cooked and offered food to anyone who came over. Meals were a big family time, it was an opportunity for a family to come together and share news about their day – all throughout my childhood there was no TV or any other distractions during meals (although I was sometimes trying to sneak a book under the table). My grandmother lived with us for a period of time – both her and my mom were great cooks and I’ve experienced a fusion of cuisines at home.

I think these experiences influenced my love for both cooking and eating out. My parents also enrolled me in a lot of activities so I was always busy. I am trying to do the same for my daughter – even though I didn’t like some of them as a teenager, I am now grateful for having done them.

Mother and teen daughter shopping at David

Image Description: Bianca and Arpine shop for loose-leaf tea, pointing to canisters on a shelf.

COLLECTING RESOURCES

During the divorce, I could see that Bianca was having a difficult time adjusting. It was hard trying to keep her from worrying about the stuff that I worried about.
Working to get out of debt, I didn’t do anything that was not essential for life that was not free. I have learned that there is actually a good amount of stuff – fun stuff – that you can do for free.
We could go to the mall and not buy anything, but still leave with bags. I didn’t spend any money but I got makeup samples and skincare samples. That was my equivalent of shopping therapy.
We had a lot of fun that didn’t cost us because I was on the lookout for free activities and free events. We’ve done a lot of festivals, a lot of concerts, and I enrolled Bianca in Sunday school that was free from the church, with free Armenian lessons.
I was never a big big church-goer, but I was going into church and talking to the other moms and it was something that we didn’t have to pay for, that we went outside of the house. It became a social thing for us. Everybody there didn’t know what I was coming from, so nobody would judge.

…Read more in Part 6: Always On Her Side

 

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This session is from the Invisible Obstacles Series. Families in the Invisible Obstacles series provide a glimpse into daily life while navigating adversity. Names and locations of minors may have been changed to protect privacy. Permission & quotes attributed to Arpine B. unless otherwise specified.

If you enjoyed the Invisible Obstacles Series, find out how to support Ashia’s do-goodery projects on Patreon.

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