As much as I’m happy to see the end of 2011 and I’ll remind this year that it doesn’t need to feel the need to stay in touch, we sure did see a lot of changes in you this year, kiddo.
I find it hard to even look at pictures of you from last Christmas because it doesn’t look like you. We started this year with me going back to work and you starting daycare. You didn’t get your transition week since we were both sick but you didn’t seem to mind at all. You excelled.
I wasn’t sure whether or not to be worried about your language skills but it didn’t take long to realize that you were just fine in that regard. You talk all the time now, though you’ve started being shy in front of strangers, which is still strange for me since you were always so outgoing and friendly before a couple of months ago . Daddy and I started keeping a list of your words many months ago but we stopped keeping track because we couldn’t keep up.
Your hair has grown more than I realize and you’ve had three or four haircuts this year. You’ve also let me put your hair up in pigtails and ponytails and with barrettes. You look so grown up, I can’t believe you’re not even two quite yet.
You’re hilarious kid, you love to dance and you run around giggling. You’re always on the go and you never nap any more, even though you need it sometimes.
You’re so smart. You amaze us all the time. You sing songs to yourself. You can sing the alphabet and twinkle twinkle, and sometimes you say goodnight to us and sing SnugglePuppy the way Daddy does for you. You can count to ten, though sometimes you skip five. You love to colour with your crayons, you love to climb on the structure Daddy bought for you and you love to run around outside. You love to paint, even though I don’t let you do it too often because we don’t always have time.
You’re very polite, you sometimes forget your pleases, but you say thank you and excuse me when you’re trying to get past someone.
You’re good at getting your shoes or boots on by yourself, and you can undress yourself, but you still have trouble getting dressed without asking for help. Something tells me it won’t be too long before you figure that all out.
You do so well with a spoon and a fork but cups still get spilled more often than not.
In 2012 we’ll see you grown even more. You start skating lessons and indoor soccer soon after the New Year. It won’t take long before you can skate circles around me. Your sentences will get longer and longer and you’ll figure out all those things that are just a little bit beyond your reach. I’m going to keep pushing you just a little bit further as long as you don’t seem to mind. As long as you keep giving the world’s best hugs and the sweetest ‘I love you.’
Daddy and I, we’re figuring you out, and you keep changing on us, but we’re sure doing something right.
Two nights ago I had a dream in which I ended up getting fired from my job because of budget considerations. Now, this scenario is very unlikely, and my subconscious should be aware of that.
The interesting thing about this dream is that I’ve been thinking of leaving my job for the past few months. It’s something I’ve been struggling with. I’ve told my boss what I’m thinking, I’ve asked friends for advice on the possibility that I might try to pick up contracts here and there and stay home with my kid. I’ve applied for jobs that interest me that I think I would excel in.
I have been very lucky in my job. I have had great opportunities, I have had wonderful experiences, and I have met great people, but last summer we lost Jack; my boss, who had put all sorts of trust in me, pushed me and expected great results, decided to move on.
Everything seems to have gotten harder since mid year.
I’ve been worn down, my office is still going through re-organization and it’s very strange being a much bigger team and not getting the teamwork or attention we used to get. I’ve been exhausted for months and every time I think things will get easier something seems to change and make it all harder again.
My biggest difficulty right now is that I have had a lot of struggles getting work. When I graduated from college it took me four months to find a job that only lasted two. I came back to Ottawa at the end of August and didn’t get another job until the next February. When I graduated from university I started looking for a job before exams ended and finally found something at the end of the summer. Then I left that job after my probation ended in November and wasn’t employed again until mid-January. The job I’m still in now. I’m about to enter my fifth year.
Because of my history, I am tentative to leave and take the risk that I could be unemployed again. Unemployment wears on me heavily. Working hard has always been a bit part of my identity and not having a job always makes me question who I am. Now that I’m a mother, I don’t know if it would have the same effect, but after the year I’ve had I’m afraid to risk it.
So what’s the answer? Eventually I’ll jump, I think, just working myself up to it. (And taking any and all advice on how to make a living working for myself – there are a lot of things I can do).
Today is Christmas Eve, tomorrow we expect some great excitement as the kid experience her second Christmas – the first at home with a big tree downstairs and all sorts of presents for her. Last night I finished knitting her a stocking – something personal for her that I’m hoping she’ll use for years to come and we’ve got plenty to fill it with this year.
Tonight we’ll have Chinese food for dinner – something my family has been doing for years. In fact, one of the years I worked retail I remember working Christmas Eve, closing the store at 4, walking home in a light snow, knowing that there was a delicious meal from my favourite restaurant waiting with my family at home, and it’s one of my delightful memories.
We’ve been putting ornaments on the advent calendar my mother made every day of the month, I made the Christmas fudge that I love, and Maggie’s Christmas pajamas – a gift from Auntie Jen – are ready for her for tonight.
Tomorrow we will open presents and have coffee and breakfast together, I’ll start cooking the turkey and my sister will come over to join us. We’ll have a nice Christmas dinner, and read the kid some of her new books before bed, and things will shine brightly.
Last night I lay in bed and I couldn’t wrap my head around the time that’s gone by. It seems as though Joe and are are still just starting our lives together, almost like we’ve just met, but here we are, married for four years, with a not-quite two year old.
We’ve known each other for seven years, which seems like forever and not very long at all, and here we are with a wonderfully perfect family, and it’s Christmas Eve.
We WILL be getting back on track over the holidays. We have time to relax, and sit down together and really figure out what’s working and what’s not. I have a feeling we’re going to see some changes in 2012, hopefully everything will work out well and the things we don’t plan won’t knock us on our asses. The focus right now needs to be taking care of myself, physically and mentally, and making sure my family is taken care of, physically and mentally.
Things I want to get done in 2012 include:
So, 2011, you have been quite something. You have totally exhausted me mentally and physically.
You started off well, I went back to work, the kid started daycare and everything was running smoothly. I was keeping up. And then you decided that we had to have an election.
Six weeks of walking to the bus in the early morning hours, working too close to colleagues for a 12 or 13 hour day. Feeding myself caffeine and sugar. Not seeing my baby girl in the morning and often not at night.
You capped it off with a win bigger than we ever expected. Things were busy and confused for weeks. We had to push ourselves through June, figuring out this new identity. We made it, we knew things would slowly get easier and then you pulled the rug out from under us again.
I was already on stress leave when Jack died. I felt like I had been sideswiped. It was the most unfair thing I have ever seen happen. Gone, just like that. Leaving us behind, wondering what the hell would happen next.
Since I came back to work in September things have gotten harder and harder. Work is stressful, home is hard, the exhaustion is overwhelming.
I have stopped exercising after doing so well. My diet has gone completely down the toilet. I am struggling to get over the finish line of this year… But now I have it in my sights.
This year has been nothing like I have ever experienced before. I was tested every which way and I’m barely going to make it through. This Wednesday my office closes for the holidays and I have a week – one week – to figure out how to get myself back together.
Because there is no question it has to get better.
The kid will pee on the potty before bedtime, almost every night. When she poops in her diaper, she asks for it to be changed right away. Last week while I was giving her a bath she asked to get out so she could go pee.
In her Christmas stocking the Elmo Potty Time DVD sits, along with some new pairs of underwear with her favourite characters on them. We’ve already got a few books about potty time that she reads when we sit her on the toilet.
Joe and I are both off for a week during the holidays.
We are going to potty train.
Now I need every word of help and advice from all of you parents who have gone through the experience, and those of you who have read more than me.
Please, leave comments here telling us what worked for you and what didn’t.
Two years ago we expected the little one to join us before Christmas, but she didn’t. Last year was her first Christmas with us but we were travelling to visit family. This year will be our first Christmas at home with our little girl.
Joe and I have developed our own traditions over the years we’ve been together, though two Christmases have never been the same. We always watch Muppet Family Christmas while we decorate the tree, we have adopted my family’s tradition of having Chinese food on Christmas Eve, and now we’ll have to figure out what to do with this kid who has joined our family.
We decorated the tree this weekend and she was fascinated by it. My Mom made her an advent calendar that gives her a velcro ornament to stick to a tree every day, complete with cross-stitch ornaments of her favourite characters and things she relates to (Elmo, Ernie and Bert, hockey sticks, a monkey, etc).
This weekend we did something else that we plan on doing every year, we took her to pick out a toy and then had her donate it to Toy Mountain. Toy Mountain is a program that has been around for years. Several pyramids are places around the city so people can drop off toys for kids who might not otherwise get anything for Christmas. Maggie helped us pick out a Leapfrog magnetic alphabet – something that she loves playing with at home and I highly recommend for other parents of toddler – and I lifted her up to put it on the mountain.
I have always been proud that when we’re in a store and she picks something up if I tell her to put it back, she puts it back. Now I can be more proud that she picked out and donated a toy without any fuss at all, and it’s something we can keep doing and explaining every year so she’ll know what it means to give.
One of the kid’s most-used words lately is ‘myself.’
Whether putting on her shoes or washing her hands, brushing her teeth or sometimes putting on her outfit for the day we hear ‘myself.’ Meaning ‘I want to do it myself’ or more often ‘I will do it myself.’
I expected this independence (my mother has been telling me to expect it), but I don’t think I expected it quite so soon. There are things I know she can’t do on her own yet, so I let her try and then help when she needs it, but quite often this brings on “No Mommy! Myself.”
I want to foster independence in her – I love that she is already showing signs and I think it’s a great skill to have – but I also want her to do things properly. Usually I’ll let it go and let her wear her shoes on the wrong feet, but I often step in for other tasks to try and prevent a mess or hurt. I help her wash her hands so she won’t get soap in her eye, I help her brush her teeth because it’s important to do it right.
There’s a balance, and I’m walking a fine line.
My other goals for 2011 include:
Yesterday I got out of bed, brushed my teeth and started getting dressed – and then I woke up and realized that none of that had actually happened yet.
I am terrible at going to sleep, I always have been. Much like Brie, I’ve always known that something more exciting was happening outside my subconcious. This means that I am also very bad at getting up in the morning. This is especially true in the winter when it’s dark and everything is much colder than my warm, cozy bed.
(Luckily I am also very low maintenance so I got up, dressed and out the door with breakfast and lunch in my work bag in 15 minutes).
I am worn down. Lack of morning light (and no window in or near my office) is wearing me down. Being chilled on my walk to the bus and sweaty on the bus and then chilled on my walk to the office is frustrating. Being out of the house from 6 am to around 4:30 pm is exhausting. We get home, we get dinner made and entertain the kid. We eat and clean up and try to get the kid into her pajamas with no fuss.
And by the time she’s asleep I’m ready to sleep too, but I don’t because I want time. More than anything else I want time because all I have are thoughts running through my head and no time. There is so much to think about and so much to do that I’m not doing anything.
I need to do something, because I know there are things I can do, but first I need to stop and take a few deep breaths. It’s been too long since I’ve had an emotional or mental break.