At this time of year, I usually like to take a look back on the twelve months that are about to leave us, but this year I have to admit I’m thinking more about the twelve months that are about to begin. This year has been a relatively stable one for me, without some of the the big highs and lows that I reflected on last year. Yes, there have been adventures, like our exciting road trip across France and Belgium, my first foray into radio, and finishing the first draft of my novel, but overall, life hasn’t felt like the rollercoaster it did last year – or the year before, when I turned forty and reflected on what four decades in the world can teach. Instead, this year has probably been about new experiences and learning – whether that’s been in moving out of comfort zones, attending my first writing retreat, or just consuming everything I can in the way of reading and inspirational podcasts. Learning is probably one of the biggest loves in my life – possibly even more important to me now than it was when I was in a workplace enjoying the luxury of training courses and ongoing development. These days it’s up to me to keep looking for new learning experiences, and things like joining a writing group and even taking part in my local Parkrun every week have all helped open my eyes to different things. I also have blogging to thank for growing my confidence – and skills, hopefully – in expressing my thoughts in writing. I can’t believe it’s been over two years since I first started putting finger to keyboard in this little corner of the Internet. Long may it last, I say. As long as you’re still with me, I’d really love to carry on.
All that aside, though, something that looms large on the horizon for me next year relates to motherhood and my eldest son’s final few months in primary school. I don’t write about my children much on here, despite them being the greatest joy and influence in my life. Perhaps it’s because I started blogging when they were a little older, or maybe it’s just a certain feeling of wanting to guard their privacy. No pre-teen boy wants their Mum embarrassing them by writing things about them on the Internet now, do they? I know that some of my eldest son’s friends have already come across my blog and read it, and I’d hate for anything I say to cause awkwardness, blushes or regret.
At the same time, so much of my experience in life is the experience of being my children’s mother, and it would seem strange not to mention a few of my own thoughts about that experience here. It’s unlikely I’ll ever talk about my kids’ day-to-day exploits via the blogosphere (I keep a private journal for that, and I wrote about that here many months ago). But for me, as my son’s Mum, I can’t deny that 2019 is likely to be bittersweet. That bridge between primary school and secondary seems, for me, at least, a very difficult one to cross.
The process of ‘last times’ has already begun for us, with my son’s final school concert, his final end of term service, his last school photo and his last primary school party (I don’t know what was worse – the knowledge that it was his last party or the realisation that I’d sent him to school without his Christmas jumper. I felt bereft). It’s hard for me to reconcile all this with the memory of a little boy asking why Mummy was crying on his first day in primary, or the endless rounds of toddler groups and nursery trips. They all seem so sharp and in focus – could time really have passed us by so fast? I wrote in a short story once about a woman watching her child walk into the school playground for the first time and musing over ‘how odd it was that he could appear so grown up when he walked alongside her, yet so childlike when he walked away’. I realise now I was writing about myself in that story although perhaps at the time I hadn’t understood it. There will be many more such moments over the next few years, I’m sure.
And as for the coming year, there will be more small goodbyes, a residential school trip and another burst of ‘last times’. When the final day of primary comes, I know there will be tears again (mine, not his) – an emotional nod to the strange and circular nature of time.
But for now, I’m happy to look ahead with a heart full of love for the kind and caring boy who made me Mummy. No resolutions, no recriminations about goals I should have set.
Just life, one day at a time, living, loving, learning.
Because we’re in it together, always. Safe in the knowledge that small goodbyes can sometimes lead to big adventures too.
Happy New Year and best wishes for 2019.