Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015: A Look Back

2015 has been a full year for us. Mostly joy filled, but there was also the devastating news of a close relative's diagnosis with highly advanced cancer.

Those eyes...
I started 2015 still somewhat shell shocked from being thrust into new motherhood - N was then 3 months old - and I'm ending it with "mother" firmly established as something I am, not just something I do. I am who this little one looks to for guidance, love, support, comfort, rest... well, everything really. This, having a person so utterly and completely depending on (fallible) me, it used to scare me. Now it's simply life. I have never had a greater joy than seeing her look up at me with nothing but love and trust in her face. There is no fear, no worry, no hidden agenda; just trust, just love. I'm tasting something of God every day - and even that has become something "normal" to me by now (although I'll admit it does take my breath away at times!).

The little one at 3 months was just about holding her head up and smiling. This 15 month old I have now babbles away in her own language, experiments with walking (insisting on being walked up and down the hall), has her own preferences (Clangers on TV always get a dance and laugh!) and eats like food is going out of fashion! She is truly a joy to us.

On holiday in Madeira
So, what did we get up to this year? My sister was visiting when 2015 arrived (it's really time she came over during the nicer time of year! - let's make 2016 the year for that) and after an amazing holiday to Madeira in March I went back to working for the church; this time from home. I learned that working around a little one's naps was a lot harder work than it sounded - only 8 hours a week, in my previous life that was a single workday! (not even a whole one...) yet it would often take me most of the week to get that time in because naps could be 20 minutes or 2 hours long: no way of knowing in advance.

In the summer we visited my family in Austria and were able to be at my relative's wedding - the one who is battling cancer - a bittersweet experience. To see this horrible disease ravaging a loved one's body; yet a wedding is an event so full of hope, a defiance of the threat of death.

Accessing home for 2 months: via stepladder
We ended the summer with a fun filled camping weekend at Westpoint (with reasonable weather too!) and a short visit by a friend from the US - at that time, our boat was out of the water for maintenance. Originally planned for up to one month we ended up being stuck on land for over two months! The dirt and grime got to me, and the relentless work got to Mr. who could not find anybody to do the laborious yet delicate work required and ended up doing it himself: after a full workday, he'd get home around 6 and then work until about 10. We were beyond happy when that time was finally over and we went back in the water. That day, a cold October day, was also my first (unintentional) swim in the harbour water! Not an experience I'd like to repeat, especially on such a cold day and fully clothed... on the up side however, I had Mr.'s mobile in my pocket and it survived, still going strong today.

Autumn saw the great news of my new pregnancy, as well as a much needed holiday (after the boat was finally done) with the in-laws in Malta. Sunshine, warmth, morning sleep-ins - graciously provided by grandma & grandad - felt like paradise.

We're seeing the year out very relaxed - the situation with my relative is continuing, and getting worse, putting a bitter dampener on the joy we see ahead... but looking ahead to 2016 is for a new post.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Building a life

We're a family.  Have been for a few years now. We're building a shared life: first as a couple... then came a home of our own... a dog... a baby... and another baby on the way now.

Family: the settled everyday adventure
Until I met Mr. and we started building this life together, my highest goal in life was freedom. Flexibility. I loved being able to say I could pack two bags and be off tomorrow, into the sunset - and for years, I could have done that and sometimes I did. Aged 22, I packed my bags and went, one week after telling my family I was going to move to New York.

After a while there, I packed my bags again and moved to Virginia. I would have stayed but it wasn't possible, so I packed again - six weeks before having to leave the country when my visa expired I had no idea at all where I was going to go, then I met a lovely couple from the UK and they said, hey, why don't you move over there. So I did that.

With the exception of leaving Austria, I never moved away from a place because I could no longer stand it there. Funny enough, looking back, I would have stayed longer in each place but circumstances forced my moves... but the point was that in principle, I could leave whenever I wanted. I was never stuck or trapped.

I'm finally free of that need for freedom, which was based in fear! True freedom is not fearing, but loving. I'm building a life and a family that yes, I am stuck with for better or worse. Leaving them would be pretty much impossible: it would tear me apart. Now I know that freedom as I knew it actually meant loneliness.

So many things I used to avoid, I now embrace - in some ways, our life is pretty average (I was always trying not to live an ordinary life...); we are married, with (soon) two kids and a dog, and even an allotment to grow vegetables. Mr has a regular day job and my main work is bringing up baby. We go to church and go on holidays where we stay in hotels or even, gasp, camp.

It looks ordinary from the outside in. But it's the most amazing journey for me.