Seriously, it's better than Christmas.
I just love the liminal phase between Christmas and new year. It feels like a forced "opportunity" to reflect and review, and there's so much potential, so much possibility of fresh starts and new beginnings and hope. I suppose it's tied in with the passing of the shortest day, too - by now, you know you can make it through winter - but mainly it's just the chance to look back on all the great stuff in the year and think yes! It can be even better next year!
I'm not as pollyannaish as this sounds, but the more time I spend in my new phase of existence, the more I realise I've got, at least, a kind of resilience, which is a muscle exercised by having a small child.
So, the big things that have happened for me/us this year, in sort of chronological order:
1. I quit my job, because when it came to going back from maternity leave, the choice was 4/5 days a week or nothing, and I could not make myself leave my boy for more than half of each week. This was, without a doubt, the right decision for me - it's working for all of us, and giving me the chance to see every sweet moment of him. I'm so glad they turned down my 3 day request - I'd have hated it.
2. I set up some alternative income, a bit of part-time employed work (but home-based, and letting me do the hours whenever I want) and some freelancing. It's pretty taxing - I sit down to work every time that Isaac sleeps (though I did have Christmas day off) but so very worth it. And, what might be the biggest thing, I am actually, properly, earning a living through writing. OK, it's writing about accounting, but still, people are paying me for making words, and that has to be a start, a step along the path of getting paid for making words on other content that might inspire me slightly more.
3. I became very involved with the fantastic La Leche League - more of this to come
4. I finished my degree, fireworks, bells, whistles - it took me four years, which isn't bad for the OU. For the first two and a bit years I was working full time, then pregnant and with a new baby (I did an exam at the end of year 3 when Isaac was about 6 weeks, with him tied on me in the stretchy wrap for the second half of it), and then perhaps the hardest academic year was the last one, covering Isaac from about 5 months to 14 months, also overlapping with the start of all my new work. But, I did it, I got my 2.1, and I'm very proud of myself.
5. We packed up and moved away from grimy Brixton to beautiful, hilly, green Bath. We've only been here a few weeks and it's sinking in slowly. I can feel my insides responding to all the openness, to the hills I can look out on from the study window, to the way we can walk up the lane and see sheep and horses and mud and wondrous country things...
6. I've seen my unutterably gorgeous, compelling, curious, funny, loving, absorbing boy grow for another 12 months - he's 19 months now, and gets more interesting and loveable by the hour, I swear. Each morning I think my heart is full, then it gets fuller.
The things I "failed" on, or want to do more on next year, take a bit more reflection, and merit longer than I'm going to give them tonight (self-imposed deadline, MUST get this post up tonight or it won't count). But broadly, (and these are in no order at all):
- I don't feel I've been anywhere near good enough at looking after friendships (this was really brought home to me when someone I have thought of as a very close friend indeed told me of her pregnancy when she was about 25 weeks - I'd been so appalling at connecting with her that she'd not felt any need to tell me earlier)
- I don't make enough effort to make the journey to see my family
- I am, in general, too wimpish about travelling with a toddler, which has definitely been part of my failings with friends and family
- I've been rubbish about writing the blog, which frustrates me, because I love having the record, and I love feeling that anyone ever reads it, and I know I'd have more chance of people reading it regularly if I actually wrote anything on it...
- Somewhere in the mix I'd love to work on my wifeness, on being sure to make sure that him downstairs feels he has a place, doesn't feel nudged out by my overwhelming absorption in Isaac and then work
- I'd like to get some kind of writing published this year that isn't about accounting
- I want to give some focus, sometimes, to things I used to love, like knitting - I don't know how to fit it in, but I know it settles and soothes me, so it seems important to find a way
- Of course I will eat healthily and get better at meal planning, and let's put domestic perfection in there too
- There are two non-bloggable secret goals, which I'll share if I manage them
- I need better ways of keeping records of things that happen with Isaac - already I realise he's not a baby any more, and I can't always track what's changed - at the moment, if I needed to generate an archive, it would be mostly from emails sent to my mum, which is better than nothing, but I want to record, record, so I don't miss a minute and don't forget a thing.
- Also I will keep my desk tidy
- My mum really generously enabled me to get some new clothes for Christmas, and for the first time in years I feel as though my outside matches my inside - when I catch sight of myself, I look like my own image of myself. It's shallow, but I'd enjoy it if this carried on happening.
- I will be working on my frugality - a family with one part time income and some PhD funding doesn't have lots of spare cash to throw around, and I'm sort of relishing this challenge. After all, a walk up to see the horses is free...
This list doesn't please me. I feel as though it's shallow, in its stated goals in some cases (wear more skirts? really??) or in its expression of them in others. The punctuation is also terrible (but I'm on a ticking clock now - he's woken twice, and if I'm not there by the third waking there is considerable trouble). But then, part of the point of this for me is to look at what I want to think more about, and write more about on here - and part of the point of all of us is having a few hidden shallows.
Anyway, at least it's a start, it's something for me to work from when attempting a bit of accountability...
Happy new year! And here's just one shot of the Christmas jumper (his, not mine. Mine is on about its fifth Christmas, I think, there's some frugality in action already)...