So, you know. I ended 2015 how I wanted to spend most of it, the most life-changing year of my life: asleep. Despite a valiant effort to stay up with Spencer to welcome 2016 at my in-laws’ home, I passed out on the couch . . . at 8:30 p.m.
I mean, I am 30 now.
In my defense, I’d been up since 4:30 a.m. with the little guy — and I did wake up 15 minutes before the official ball drop, so I was technically awake at midnight. I just . . . can’t remember much before or after that.
New Year’s always tastes bittersweet to me. I always find it a little . . . melancholy. Saying goodbye to another year; heading into an unknown future. Trading the sparkle and glitz of Christmas and an action-packed December for the cold, empty calendar of January.
But 2015? It was the year I became a mother: the year I found out we would welcome a son, grappled with his premature birth and settled in as a family of three. Becoming a parent pushed me to my absolute edge — physically, mentally, emotionally — and there were times when, yes, I worried that this much-longed-for child would have me packing a passport, dying my hair blonde and changing my name.
But that was the exhaustion talking.
It was a tough year, a great year, a joyous year, a terrifying year. I experienced moments of pure happiness and bouts of fear and guilt so intense they threatened to carry me away. In 2015, I was the happiest I’ve ever been: the moment Oliver first offered his first real smile; coming down to find my amazing husband cradling our child in his arms, both asleep on the couch; watching Ollie’s face light up with pride when he rolled over on his own.
But I was the saddest I’ve ever been, too: sitting desolate in the hospital before he was born, a tight blood pressure cuff’s readings sealing my fate; the agony of childbirth; being discharged without Oliver. I have never cried as I did the first night spent without his kicks as he lay in an isolette in Baltimore, hours away. I have never felt that broken. The weight of that fear and despair? Not something I can articulate, really. It was . . . heartbreak.
Life pushed forward, however. Ollie got stronger (and cuter! sweeter!), and our Ollie came home. I don’t take that for granted — not for a second. We got through it and, with time, I’m learning to get past it. But I don’t punish myself on the tough days when I can’t, either.
In all, 2015 was the year I learned I’m made of some pretty tough stuff. When I became a mother, my heart grew ten sizes — and so did my backbone.
Honestly, the year was a blur — a hazy, lazy, dreamy and overwhelming mix of 2 a.m. feedings, diaper blow-outs, baby giggles, lots of snuggles and days spent in my pajamas. I barely read, tried to clean, didn’t vacation . . . but the little corner of our living room where I first held my baby boy at home became our haven, and it’s where we sit together every day.
And through it all, I continued to work full-time. Becoming a working mom has added an entirely new dimension to my stress, but it’s a challenge I’ve accepted — and can manage. Our newspaper was sold over the summer, followed swiftly by many changes in just a few months. After many friends were laid off in October, I’ve had to tackle entirely new challenges — and have adapted. Pressed forward.
I have grown.
In an attempt to not set myself up for failure, I’m not making “resolutions” for 2016 — but I want to continue to grow. And cut myself some slack. As a lifelong perfectionist, it’s hard to admit when I need help . . . but I don’t scold myself when I get behind on emails, let the dirty bottles wait until morning or choose to knock out some shows on the DVR rather than vacuum. In the long run, it doesn’t really matter.
Making “time for myself” is something of a misnomer, but I am finding ways to slowly return to the hobbies I’ve shelved since Oliver was born. Now that we’re all sleeping more, I have renewed energy to read — and plan to knock out some books that have been languishing in the library for years in 2016.
Ollie will turn 1 in April. We’re going to have a hell of a party. Spencer turns 30 in May, and I’ll be 31 this summer. Though our plans lately have, for the most part, centered on just getting through each day, I want to return to healthier habits and start meal planning again. I haven’t decided if I’m ready to recommit to Weight Watchers but, after experiencing much success in 2013, it’s definitely an option. We’ll see how it goes.
Regardless, I do want to get healthy again. In my post-preeclampsia life, I know how important it is for me to lose weight and get my blood pressure under control — and that will be a focus as I move forward. I want to choose my health. I’m just afraid of putting any hard-and-fast rules on myself, as with Weight Watchers, because I don’t want to ride the accompanying waves of guilt if I “fail.”
Progress, not perfection.
We have so many milestones to come with Ollie: talking, crawling, walking, running. He’s already changed so much in the last nine months — I can’t wait to see more of his little personality develop. He’s already so funny, quirky and sweet. Even on the dark, tough days, I adore being a mom. His mom.
But I’m also a wife, daughter, sister, employee, friend. A writer, reader, photographer and serious coffee drinker. These roles have changed dramatically in the last 12 months . . . and I’m still discovering new facets and challenges for each. But it’s okay to learn as we go.
Isn’t that what we all must do?
As I plod back into work tomorrow morning to sift through emails, clear out the residual holiday decorations and hang up a shiny new calendar, I’m ready — and eager — to push forward.
The best, as they say, is yet to come.