Now Christmas is over it seems like I should stop and take stock of the year before it’s gone. 2011 has whooshed by in a flash (is that just me getting old?) but, when I think about it, life this New Year’s Eve is very different to the last.
Last New Year’s Eve I watched the fireworks propped up in bed in a delivery room at Birmingham Women’s Hospital feeding T who had arrived an hour before. My previous 36 hour post c-section stay with E had been horrible so I was really nervous about having to go up to maternity and Hubs and my mother going home leaving me to look after T by myself until they were allowed back at lunchtime. As it turned out I needn’t have worried as we had a huge four bedded sideroom to ourselves and T spent the night feeding, dozing and quietly staring at me until Hubs came and took us home in the morning. Perfect.
Luckily, being a mum the second time around has carried on pretty much like that. All the things that I was worried about because I found them difficult or stressful with E have just fallen into place. I think the biggest difference has been that when I first had E I felt like a working woman who had a baby and was out of my depth but now I feel like a mum who works and that I actually know what I’m doing (most of the time). T has been an absolute joy and I’ve loved being at home to look after him this year.
I’m amazed by how much E has changed this year. It’s been fantastic to watch his move from kindergarten to pre-school. The way he has been making proper friends, becoming much more confident and learning new things (including teaching himself to read using the Sky+ menu, probably not an OFSTED approved method). I’m most proud of what a lovely big brother he has become. He was really gentle when T was tiny and as he’s got bigger he’s shown so much empathy, recognising when he’s tired or upset or enjoying something and genuinely wanting to play with him and make him happy. T just adores him, so much so that he managed to call him ‘Eh’ way before he managed ‘Mama’ and demands kisses from him at bed time. Now they are sharing a room, instead of shouting for us in the morning we’ll hear the two of the chattering away down the baby monitor for half an hour until they get hungry which never fails to melt my heart.
It’s not all been plain sailing though and one change in 2011 is that we now have even less money than we did a year ago. I always assumed that as you got older and your career progressed you would actually improve your standard of living but in fact it seems to be the opposite. Every year any modest pay rises we might get are more than wiped out by the increases in costs especially childcare and once you factor in this year’s maternity leave it means 2012 is going to be another year of belt tightening. Now where’s that lottery ticket….
2011 has also been the year I’ve had to learn to love my house. As I’ve said here before, we only planned on being here for a couple of years but the economy has conspired against on this one and I really resented feeling ‘stuck’ in this house which was making me stressed and miserable. It’s taken a bit of positive thinking to remember that despite the constant maintenance, the drafts, the damp, the small garden, the terrible schools, the traffic, the noise, the crazy parking restrictions (I could go on and on) we’re lucky to have a house that is big enough to fit all four of us and our mountains of stuff, that it has some pretty features, that I’m close to work and nursery, that our neighbours are lovely and most importantly that Mr Bradford and Mr Bingley were stupid enough to fix their standard variable rate to the BoE base rate all those years ago so it doesn’t cost half as much as it used to. It really could be much worse and in years to come I know that all my memories of the boys growing up will be inextricably tied up with my memories of this house.
A downward trend this year is that I am now a complete physical wreck. I wasn’t in great shape to start with so, although I’ve lost most of my baby weight this year, after a very sedentary pregnancy (as I was permanently feeling sick) and then a year of blogging and watching TV I am ridiculously unfit. If I were one for New Year’s Resolutions then getting fitter would definitely have to be one.
Finally this year has reignited my passion for politics. Politics was a big part of my life when I was younger but then work and family distracted me. This year, however, there have been so many issues that I’ve felt strongly about and I’m starting to have those ‘what kind of world are we leaving for our kids’ type thoughts again. This week I’m particularly enraged that with more than 3 billion women on the planet the BBC couldn’t find any that were more important than a panda. Seriously, a fecking PANDA as one of the ‘Female Faces of 2011’, that’s a joke right? Grrrrr!
So as I see in 2012, probably in bed with a biscuit and a cup of tea, I will find myself a poorer, fatter, aggravated but happier mum to a larger family. On balance it’s a change for the better.