When I think back on this past year, family is the big thing that stands out. I know this seems kind of obvious in that my life is centered around Liam and the kids, but I'm thinking of family in a bigger more long-term way.
Early last year, we said goodbye to Liam's mom Peggy after watching her struggle through health issues related to her Multiple Sclerosis. It was a period where worry for Peggy weighed on our hearts every day and then the raw pain of loss slowly dulled over as her absence became a part of our lives. I learned a lot from the experience, including how everything else seems to fade into nothingness when someone you love is hurting. I also learned that life in the world goes on, even if it seems to limp and hobble for a while, and that children are such a blessing and a frustration in their inability to wallow in sorrow for any real period of time. It's been about 10 months now since Peggy left us and we all miss her so much, especially during this first holiday season without her.
The other side of the family coin is the small and delicious Olivia. Growing through my pregnancy with her was such a strange juxtaposition sometimes with Peggy's withering away. I entered 2009 already pregnant with Olivia and much of the year seemed to be swallowed up by growing and birthing and nurturing her in her early months. By the time she made her grand entrance into the world I felt like I'd been gestating an elephant instead of a human. I was overjoyed to finally hold her in my arms after her beautiful and intimate birth. Adding a baby into our family has shifted everyone's roles a little bit and it's been so deeply rewarding to see how our family has grown and evolved.
The rest of the year seems to have been filled with the many other small moments that make up daily living.
There were the ups and downs of Liam's contract work as he entered and left different work. It's been a growing experience for sure, getting used to the different stresses of non-permanent employment, but it's also been heartwarming to see Liam developing and working towards goals for his corporation. He's currently at a contract where he's happy and it will hopefully see him through almost all of 2010.
Nick and Lily have grown in leaps in bounds in all senses of the word since last year.
Nick is stepping away from the world of the younger child and since shortly before his ninth birthday I've been catching glimpses of the teenager and man he'll be in only a few short years. His deep interest in reading has opened up so many doors to the world around him and his brain is like a giant sponge just mopping up and storing every little scrap of information he sees, hears, or experiences. He constantly amazes me with his understanding and patience of things that I barely even notice. I think the older this boy gets, the deeper he gets. I'm so incredibly grateful that we are homeschooling him as I watch him mull things over and work things out inside of his head over such long periods of time. He works on his own schedule, whether he's eating a sandwich for an hour or contemplating the concept of inflation for an afternoon, and I'm happy that his lifestyle allows him to operate in the way that works best for him.
And then Lily. Oh Lily. My little firecracker with glittering diamonds for eyes. I keep finding myself looking at her and wondering when she got so old. I feel like she was two years old and then I took a few breaths to pay attention to my pregnancy and then all of a sudden I have this big kid four year old living in my home. She's a walking clash of stereotypes, wearing pink dresses and makeup but then being too stubborn to cry when she's hurt and beating the crap out of her big brother. Watching Lily blossom into the role of being a big sister has been one of the most rewarding experiences of the year for sure. She loves Olivia. So so much. During the night, if Olivia starts to cry Lily will half wake to make sure her little sister is ok. Lily wants to make her laugh, keep her safe, hold her, play with her, squeeze her, and even lick her if she can get away with it. Watching the two of them together makes me wonder what the years ahead will hold for them. Never having had a sister of my own, it's a world of mystery to me that leaves me feeling a little bit jealous.
And then of course we have me. After having taken so much time for myself in 2008 to train for and run my second half marathon, 2009 was the kind of year that kicked me in the shins on a personal level. I knew it was coming, that's what you get when you get pregnant and bring a new baby into the family. Now that Olivia is five months old, I'm feeling the need to start carving out some me time in my life again. Instead of holding her while she sleeps in the evenings, I've been stashing her up in bed with Lily and reveling in having my arms and my breasts free for a few hours. The postpartum haze is lifting a bit and I'm feeling the need to exercise my brain more with reading a writing. (Actually, I have this big piece of writing that's been chewing away on my brain for a while but I'm too intimidated to actually start working on it. I need to get it out before it makes me crazy!) I've also started making more time for my physical self during my everyday life with a focus on my health through tracking calories and exercising more. I'm trying to find that magical balance where I have enough time for everything, or at least find peace with the amount of balance I've achieved so far. I'll let you know how that goes.
And there, I guess, you have it. What a year of extremes. We lost a family member, we gained a family member. Some really big moments too place this year, but so many days and weeks were filled with the low-key moments that get lost in the shuffle of years. It's been a year that has pushed me and changed me a lot, which I guess is a good thing seeing as it's spitting me out right in time for my 30th birthday. I feel like turning 30 should signify that I've got some life experience and some wisdom under my belt. Some days I feel like I'm there. Other days I feel like I really don't know what the heck I'm doing.
So anyhow, the year was what it was. Loved it, hated it, glad to know that I'm not going to be slogging through it once more. I hope that everyone who pops by here to read this has had a rewarding year to date and that 2010 is filled with the love and joy of the people most dear to them.