New year reflections

So, here we are at the start of another year. 2014. Doesn’t it sound futuristic? We should all be in flying cars or something.

New year reflections

Despite post-Christmas anti-climax holiday blues (yes, it all hits me in those few days between Christmas and the New Year!), I enjoy the start of a fresh year. A blank page, just waiting to be filled. Unknown and maybe even unthought of possibilities glimmering ahead of us. Of course, no year is ever without its low points but I am a glass half full kind of girl so I like to set foot into the next twelve months optimistically – whatever I may be feeling by the end of the year when I look back at it all!

I’ve been reflecting a lot on 2013 these past few weeks. In some ways, it’s all a bit of a blur. There have been some big moments but, for the most part, there is no one stand out event to mark the year. It’s been all bits and bobs and busyness. Despite – or maybe even because of – this, it feels like a significant year. I’ve been learning a lot about myself and parenting. I think I also reclaimed something of myself: having spent a couple of years entirely focused on getting pregnant, staying pregnant, coping through the fog of utter sleep deprivation, it’s been wonderful to find ME again. If I have any trepidation about 2014 it’s whether I am ready to put myself back at the beginning of the loop as we think about expanding our little family.

So, what it is that I feel I’ve learnt this year?

For a fairly impatient person, I have a lot more patience than I would have previously given myself credit for.
The sleepless nights. The bedtime battles. The toddler tantrums. The repeating myself for what feels like the billionth time in a day. The seemingly impossible task of getting out of the front door some days. All these things and probably more test my patience every day. This mum lark isn’t easy. Along with the most amazing highs come points that have required me to dig down into my deepest reserves. And I’ve done it. Even if I have been talking through gritted teeth or lying on the floor of ToddlerGirl’s room counting to 600 in my head as bedtime stretches on interminably…

Notwithstanding the above, I am not a saint and I can’t hold it all together, all the time.
Sometimes instead of a calm, gentle reply, I have snapped. Sometimes I have shouted. Sometimes I have left the room and just sobbed (normally over sleep frustrations). Nothing makes you feel more crap as a mum than to shout at your little one. It’s also not at all constructive. I’ve learnt that I need my survival tactics to get through the tough spots. I’ve learnt that I’m not the only mummy in the world that feels like she’s not coping sometimes. I’ve learnt that I’m not perfect but I am doing my best.

Visualising the future is wonderful – as long as you manage your expectations.
The plan for 2013 was to start working from home. ToddlerGirl was, well, a toddler. I was ready for her to go to nursery one morning a week, which would give me a portion of time to pay some attention to my career. She was transitioning to one nap a day, which would be a lovely long one, allowing me to also do some work while she slept. How wonderful to be able to do some freelancing, bring in a little bit of money, but still be flexible enough to be a stay at home mum. Ha! Ha ha!! The long, reliable nap has never happened. Our first attempt at nursery when ToddlerGirl was 18 months was horrible for us both, so we pulled the plug on it. Six months later, we tried again and I realised that it’s tricky to juggle a job in four hours a week (that’s not even part time. Quarter time? Eighth time?!) Needless to say, I have not launched my freelancing career yet…

Acceptance leads to less frustration.
I don’t want to go back to the workplace at the moment. I want to be at home with ToddlerGirl. I would also like to be able to squeeze in a little work on my own terms, get stuck into a couple of projects I’ve been mulling over these last two years. In short, I want to have my cake and eat it. There have been times in 2013 when it has been extremely frustrating not to be able to focus on the things I really want to do. I have resented the lack of space in the week for my own little projects. But recently I have realised that the frustration gets me nowhere. I have choices; this is what I have chosen. Accepting this fact makes it a lot easier to focus on what I am prioritising in my life right now and make the most of the time I do have. I’ve found this trick also helps to make my life at home easier with ToddlerGirl. Instead of railing against her when she isn’t doing what she ‘should’ be (yep, I’m talking about those lovely long naps again), weighing up what’s important and accepting the things I can’t change makes a big difference to how smoothly our days go.

Whatever anybody else says or does, you need to follow your own path and trust your instincts.
I drive ToddlerGirl around in the car in order to get her to nap, otherwise we would have lost daytime sleep this time last year. One of us lies on the floor in her room at bedtime until she drops off at night. I’m sure there are many things we do that other people would raise an eyebrow at or think we are nuts for but perhaps the best thing I have learnt this year is: do whatever works for your family. In the first year of ToddlerGirl’s life, I googled pretty much everything to do with her development. I needed INFORMATION on what I should be doing after carelessly mislaying our baby manual at hospital (what – they don’t come with handy little operating manuals?!) In the second year, I am still most definitely muddling through but I am a lot more confident to do that in my own way. It’s useful to seek advice sometimes but I try to make sure I am listening to my inner mummy voice at the same time.

So much can happen in a year… and it all goes by far too quickly.
ToddlerGirl has virtually doubled her time with us on this earth. She’s left babyhood firmly behind. She’s gone from saying a handful of words to having full blown conversations with us (and to herself!). She’s done so many amazing big and little things in the space of twelve months that it really just blows my mind. Watching her grow into a little girl, seeing her learning every day, listening to her playing and her chat, these are all the things that make my days and my weeks. And it’s all going by so fast already. I love toddler age but a part of me feels a pang of sadness that I’ll never know her again as a six month old, delighting us as she starts to play and crawl and explore. Or the excitement of those first few steps or words. I want to be able to hit pause and hold onto it all tightly as, two years down the line, I am beginning to realise how fleeting this time is. When I am grumpy, tired, frustrated, overwhelmed, this is the lesson that I would most like to remember in 2014.

What things from 2013 will you take forward into this new year?

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2 Comments on “New year reflections”

  1. Rach says:

    Another parent of a non-napper here. She wouldn’t even nap when she was a baby, so I feel your pain. Acceptance of how they are/it is is definitely the key, although for me it was a long painful process of letting go of expectations. Accepting the choices I’ve made is something I’m still working on. I want it all dammit!

    • Oh yes, accepting that your expectations of nap time are really never going to happen is pretty tough, especially if a lot of your friends have babies that nap like clockwork! And I’m the same as you – I want to be able to squeeze everything in but I think I realised last year that something has to give. I’m just trying to remind myself that this baby and toddler period is such a short stage of our lives! Thanks for commenting :)


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