I read a quote (or more likely a meme) the other day that said something like 'I used to think I was at the end of my tether, but I've realised lately that I was only about half way' and I feel like this is an accurate summation of what 2021 was for me. When I thought surely this couldn't get more difficult, it did, whether it was hurting my back, baby getting croup, Covid or some other random shit (sometimes literally in the toddler bed) there were some curve balls that made it hard. So to wrap this year up I thought I’d write down a few things I have done, to remind myself of the good or joyful moments that dropped in to remind me that life is good and worth being present for. My brain likes to make lists like this, it brings a sense of closure, and reflection, to the year.
1. Birthed a baby, whom I love and is such a happy and cuddly boy. Did not have a pleasant hospital experience at all, did not feel nurtured or cared for by the staff and had a small complication with my bowel where it stopped working. Connor also had reflux which was truly awful for the first 3 months of his life. Newborn exhaustion plus a busy toddler plus being in a new town plus a constantly crying baby does not equal fun times, rainbows and unicorns. It's a shit storm which we thankfully made it through, but I still get anxious when I hear our baby, or another baby, crying in that way.
2. Steadily increased my screen time, month on month ;)
3. Eaten a chocolate or pastry every day. I’d like to give a shoutout to my fairly good metabolism and breastfeeding for allowing me to not gain weight in partaking in this sugary treat. My cholesterol is probably not great, but that is a problem for 2022.
4. Heard my daughters vocabulary grow exponentially and enjoyed her turn of phrase so much (e.g. ‘Where are my peoples’ , ‘Gumpa has a shower on him’,). It really is joy to see your child learning and to learn/discover their interests. Holly sure is into bugs, particularly wormies, ‘piders and beetles, will she be an entomologist? She’s also very keen on kitty cats, sveeties and bowtie pasta. Loves cakes and imaginary play, having a shop with ice creams and ‘chinos. So maybe she will be into food things or cheffing (I hope not). Oh and she loves to draw and paint. Our walls show faint signs of Picasso like ‘people’ renditions that we have unsuccessfully scrubbed off.
5. Read 10 books. 6 of them Lucinda Riley books which doesn’t say much for challenging me or varying my genre or author, but you know, year two of a worldwide pandemic and 2 under 2 means you want to escape into a book and hers are PERFECT for that. I also finally read ‘Where the Crawdads sing’ and I loved it.
6. Tried to be a supportive wife to my husband as he’s been involved in the setup and opening of a new restaurant. I’ve visited and tasted the food and it is delicious, as I knew it would be. I’ve also heard good things from other people about his food, so I am proud and happy for him. I’m also proud of myself, as lots of time away at work means lots of parenting and running of the household for me. Are we always trying to figure out how to balance the mental load, or divide it? Hopefully I’ll get more of a handle of it in 2022, it’s in my plan.
7. I’ve done the least amount of exercise I’ve probably ever done, and managed to not beat myself up about it. I’ve tried to rest when I can and not punish myself for not getting fit or having muscles. For that self acceptance and personal growth I am grateful, I would however like to have some more endorphins next year, so bring on some HIIT or maybe even a brisk walk.
8. I got my ass back to therapy after some incredibly low days. Parenting 2 littles, having very little freedom to do the things that make you feel like yourself and navigating some other challenges really take a whack at ones mental health. I discovered that at the heart of a lot of my anger, resentment and anxiety was a sense of loneliness. It was helpful (and hard) to acknowledge that and try figure out a way to not feel so lonely. Motherhood can be lonely, even marriage can be lonely, I’m not sure people really speak about that but all I know is that realizing that and making small changes has really helped some of my frustration, rage and feeling stuck.
Remembering some of my values (travel - or a change of scenery, beautiful, calm spaces, being outdoors) and then finding ways to align with them, even for half an hour a day, makes a big difference. I’ve also realized how important it is to have a supportive team (or systems) around you. A trusted nanny or an excellent maid, food delivery service or meal prep, scheduled time by myself or out of the house. These things all require planning and money (a lot of which I am still figuring out) but taking the time to figure them out means I'm a happier and more present version of myself.
9. Got fully vaccinated. I’m grateful for science and vaccines and the privilege of being able to get freely vaccinated. Also grateful for my relative health (except getting Covid before Christmas, that was a special gift) and that of my family this year.
10. Spent a lot of quality time with my parents and got to see them embrace being 'Gunny Gumpa' and just enjoy their company while looking after littles. My Mum has allowed me to nap and rest, my Dad has walked with me and the kids and made them toys and entertained them with his stories and videos.
Ten feels like a nice number to end on and I think that’s enough reflection for now. I’m not sure how I feel about 2022, all I know is that I would love a beach (preferably Mauritius) holiday in 2022 and also I am booking more massages. I will continue to eat lots of chocolate and I will draw and paint more with my daughter as the enjoyment is mutual. I also hope to go on more dates with Mark next year, here’s to prioritizing that. Happy New Year friends, let's get 2022 started.