To my gorgeous girls, Billie and Asher,
We’re done! It has now been a year since I posted my first post on this blog and made the commitment to share something everyday. 365 days worth of sharing!!! It was a struggle at the end, I won’t lie. Not because I didn’t want to do it, but with life and work and well, let’s face it… life, it’s been hard to find the hours to fit it all in. But I persevered and filled the gaps and now it’s complete.
It’s hard to know where to start with this post. I feel proud that I’ve been able to achieve something despite knowing that goal setting hasn’t really been my thing in the past. It feels good to see the words written down, even if some of them towards the end were mundane and lacking in spark, style or substance. But most importantly, above everything else, I feel content.
Content? Yes, content.
I now feel content in the knowledge that if I were to stop existing, either right now or sometime in the future, that you will have a piece of me to hold on to. Even writing those words is upsetting, but it’s vital that you know that I’ve done all of this for you for that very reason. And trust me when I tell you that one day the value of what that means will sink in and you’ll be grateful that you had such a clever, forward thinking (and perhaps a little morbid) mother!!
But how do I know this…? What on earth would possess me to think like that? I know you are wondering!
I know this because I would have given everything to have something to hold on to. This year will mark the 18th year since my mum (your grandmother) died. 18 years… just one year short of the 19 years that she was in my life. And whilst my memories of her are still very strong, it wasn’t until you guys came along that I began to understand that I didn’t really know her. Of course, I knew her as my mother but it became abundantly clear to me during my first pregnancy, that I had no idea of her as a woman. What did she believe in and how did she perceive the world? What were her dreams and who did she want to be? What were her struggles, her demons, her fears? I never really knew any of this about her as her own person, separate from the labels.
And so over time that thought simmered and festered away in my mind until one day I decided that I wouldn’t let that be the future for you. If something were to happen to me (and of course I’m praying that it never will), I knew that I needed you to know who I am as a person, beyond the role of a mother or a wife. What did I think? How did I feel? What did I stand for? Whether or not I’ve achieved that with this blog, well, who can really say, but what I do know is that you now have 365 more days worth of insight than I had of my mum. 365 days of looking through my lens at the life that we have lived. 365 snippets into the ramblings of my mind and my perspective of the world.
You are welcome.
One day you will be able to trawl through these posts on your own, so you should also know that there are some posts that I’ve written that I am really proud of (mostly written before the drama at work began). You can find them on My Faves page. These few posts reinforce for me that I do have some iota of writing talent if I nurture it and give myself space to be creative. But pretty much everything else from September onwards is just downright horrible – well, with the exception of Two Sentences Tuesday which I kind of love – but I choose to keep it all (despite wanting to delete some of them) as it represents me and what was going on for us as a family during what has most certainly been one of the worst years on record.
I’ve been through some difficult and challenging times over the years and one day I hope to document that for you too. Like most people, life has thrown up some obstacles and challenges to deal with and for some reason I’ve been dealt a few doozies in my time!! That said, there is no question it has all shaped me into who I am as a person (both positively and negatively, I’m sure). I’ve dealt with death and loss, harbouring a grief that lay dormant for many years. I’ve experienced the struggles of being a poor uni student and a young adult with massive aspirations and a desire to get out into the world and achieve something great (not sure I’ve succeeded yet!). I’ve worked hard for what I have and have discovered through experiencing some pretty ridiculous and frantic times that being overloaded and constantly busy seems to be a normal state of being for me.
I found love (with your dad!) in an unorthodox way, which at the time was not as socially acceptable as it is today (thank you internet!) and relocated to the river to ensure that our future family would enjoy the same country upbringing we both got to enjoy. Of course, because my life is never without a drama for too long, we then discovered that in order to have a family, we would have to endure the fun and games that is IVF. But do you know what?? It was worth every second because look at what we have now as a result – you! The two most gorgeous girls in the world.
The very essence of who I am and how people see me is a direct result of the challenges and dramas that life has thrown my way, shaping me into a woman who is resilient, resourceful, confident and tenacious. Or so I thought. This year has turned much of what I thought I knew about myself on its head and saw me experience the lowest of lows, both in self worth and in energy. A rough and emotional year that has permeated through all aspects of my life.
2015 was profound and scary and frustrating. It was heartbreaking and soul destroying in ways I never thought possible. It tested me on so many levels and created a level of vulnerability that I never knew existed within me. In so many ways it’s been a disappointing year, but my disappointment lies mainly in the fact that I expected more of myself despite the adversity thrown my way. If someone had asked me 18 months ago how I would react if I was put in a similar situation to that which I was put through this year, I would have never have used words such as devastated, humiliated or broken to describe how I’d feel. I would have expected to be more resilient and stronger and able to move forward more quickly than I did. Perhaps that only serves to demonstrate the impact the events of this year have had on me.
And ultimately on you.
I apologise for that. I’m sorry for the impact it has had on you and on us as a family, even though you won’t remember it. Most of all, I’m sorry I wasn’t brave enough to just walk away when the opportunity presented itself. I now know I should have.
I’m telling you this because with the benefit of hindsight, the silver lining becomes apparent, and I’m now able to recognise the lessons to be learnt. In addition to getting to experience a side of me that isn’t exposed too often – the soft underbelly of my emotionally challenged self if you will – the best part is you will now also get to witness the rebirth. And that, my gorgeous gals, is exciting!
On the cusp of 2015, I remember making the commitment to chase after my writing dreams and for a few months I did. I wrote a lot and tackled my return to work from maternity leave with gusto and excitement. I planned and plotted my future, looked forward to my first RWA Conference where I would ultimately meet my tribe and envisaged a way forward where I would make it happen… even as the work piled up, the hours became longer and I started to bring it all home with me, I still honoured my commitment. So when the sledgehammer hit in May (at work), I was stunned and shocked and then ultimately humiliated and every day since I have braced myself against the kick in the guts that just keep coming. Until now.
What I now know about myself wasn’t evident before. And in many ways, 2015 has helped me to clarify what is important. Here is what I now know to be true – girls, I’m about to unleash some profound life lessons:
- Loyalty is overrated. As you get older, you will either grow up to a person who will always go over and above in everything that you do, simply because that is who you are… or you won’t. We don’t yet know which way that will go for you both. But my advice to you either way is this: work hard and always aim to do better than your best but don’t assume that the effort that you put in or the loyalty that you demonstrate means anything. The moment you recognise that your best isn’t valued, appreciated or respected it’s time to make a decision. Your choices are these: a) suck it up and maintain the status quo, accepting that things probably won’t ever change – and live with the consequences OR b) make the decision to change, move on or stand up in the face of it, despite the fear – and live with the consequences. You can’t have both. Trying to have one or the other and not being willing to live with the consequences of either is not an sustainable.
- Loyalty is overrated – except when it isn’t. Never underestimate the healing power of true friends. Those who are there for you when you’re down (and who know that despite your emotionally challenged ways, they are needed even though you never ask for help), are the epitome of loyalty. You will recognise their loyalty because they are the ones who arrive with the hugs and the G&Ts (and the tissues for those #nomascaraThursdays). They will offer up the right words and the wrong words and the bad words and it’s perfect because you needed to hear it all! But most of all, they will remind you that you are loved, are valued and are of worth. Always remember it is during the darkest moments that you need to open the curtains and allow the light of your friendships to guide you forward. A bit fluffy, but the truest piece of advice I can ever give you.
- Success is not stuff and stuff is not important. As people, and especially as career driven mothers, the expectation of having it all is a heavy burden to bear. The house, the cars, the bloody extra stuff in the name of lifestyle (yes, I’m talking motorbikes and trailers, and camper trailers and treadmills). On top of that, it’s also expected that we have the nicely mannered kids, the happy kids, the kids who have all the stuff (and yes, I’m referring to your playroom!). The burden continues with the necessity to hold down a good job so that you can pay the bills, make a nice home… and fill it with more stuff. And before long the balls are all in the air requiring the necessity to manage your life so that you can juggle the good job, the home, the kids as well as all the stuff. Stuff, that quite frankly if you’re not supremely organised or a minimalist slowly becomes pervasive and suffocating, creating discontent from within because there is just so bloody much of it! Now if you haven’t picked up on what I’m laying down here, one of the biggest learnings from this year is that I define myself by the quantity and quality of stuff that I have and when it gets out of control it creates unease. Guess what… my stuff is out of control! It’s stifling me! But like a game of Captain Obvious, it seems that I’ve finally worked out that none of it is really all that important if you’re not happy. When the hamster wheel is spinning out of control and the ‘work’ and the ‘stuff’ don’t equate to happiness… well, it would appear that there is a decision to be made… refer back to point two, sub point a and b. Capisce?
- You are my number 1 priority. Always. I have always believed that being successful, AKA defined by ‘stuff’, meant that I was providing for you and ensuring you had the best start to life. It was certainly a better start than I ever had! And whilst I get that it is, it also isn’t. We are so conditioned in believing that stability and a solid foundation for our children’s future means busting a gut and working ridiculous hours to make money and achieve success (see point number 3). But 2015 has really made me question why I am doing it. Is that of benefit to you? Epiphany number 1,434,235 made me wonder whether you’ll look back at your childhood and remember the nice house and things you owned or the overworked, unhappy mother who tried to juggle it all before becoming more bitter and twisted over time? Will you recall the toys, the decor and the nice cars instead of the memories we created or the relationships you had with the people who were important to you? I want you to grow up feeling the latter!
So where to from here? Well, it’s taken me all day to craft this letter to you and I’m happy to report that this is a turning point. A milestone upon which we will look back and go, yep, we made a conscious and proactive decision to be happy. You will one day discover that this moment in time marks the start of something exciting. Sometime life changing and foundation creating. Plans are being made and adventure is on our horizon.
But in the meantime I promise to continue to leave my legacy for you both. Continue to create an insight that you will either cherish in memory or we will share together as we all grow older. But most importantly, finish reading this with the knowledge that it’s because of you both that I write these words. You my vibrant, clever Billie, and you my cheeky, confident Asher. You are the reason you these words exist right now.
Whilst this blog has provided additional benefits in allowing me to exercise my writing muscle and put myself out there once again in a creative capacity, without you as my inspiration, it wouldn’t exist. A life like ours is exactly that, a place filled with the details of the life that we lived, and of who I am as a person, not just defined by the role as your mother.
So happy new year and farewell to the past! I love you both, more than words can say and can’t wait to discover the next chapter in a life like ours.
Love, Mum xx