Another year draws to an end and new beginnings are upon us. At least, that's what we all say at the end of each year and the new one looms ahead, with fantasy promises in our minds that the next will be better than the last.
But the truth is, the rollover from one year to the other marks just that - time rolling by, people getting older, lives being lived. New beginnings happen at any time and I believe they are more a state of mind than a state of time.
In saying that, as per every other year, the days leading up to Christmas and new years always bring out the reminiscent in me. It's a time for reflection. A time to analyse how we've lived the last 12 months and how we might want to live the next. And if we do a re-evaluation each year, that can only be good. Reflection can be the instigator for change.
When you are in the moment, living, experiencing and sometimes enduring life, we often don't recognising how hard or how enjoyable that time is. We only see it for what it is after the fact, and that is when we recognise just how strong we may be.
Each year I look back and think, 'how the f *** did we make it through all of that? !'
This year is no different.
It started with a bang. An accident involving Eddie, a skateboard ramp and a huge drop resulted in him having a shattered shoulder blade, surgery and 6 months off work. This left us pretty financially crippled, especially when at the end of that we had to move, and with the house prices in Auckland, has seen us paying $100 more per week for rent.
The bright side though, is our new house is much bigger and we can escape from each other and the kids more readily!
It's been the year when we have all been unsure about mums health. The previous May, she was told that without treatment she had between 7-12 months left. Of course she decided to challenge that, and now not only has she blown that time frame out of the water by almost doubling it, she has evaded the cancer and is thriving. She's allowed to drive again, and doesn't let aything hold her back. In all honesty, she's doing so amazingly well that most of the time it's easy to forget that she wasn't well! She's our very own superhero ☺
A lot of people have internal battles they need to fight and overcome, and there are a few people close to me who've had to find their strength to do just that in recent months. I'm not going to name them as it isn't mine to share, but I wanted to acknowledge that their efforts never go unnoticed and I am incredibly proud of them for standing up, owning their shit, and not only realising they need help but taking that help with open arms and the willingness to better their state of mind and their life. I'm so proud of ya'll, I love you x
My Olive has thrived this year. She is almost 5 now and will start school next April. Despite losing her two best friends to school 6 months before her, she has taken it in her stride and made new friends at kindy. She still doesn't forget about her besties though, and every day when kindy finishes and we wait for school to finish, she goes to their class to see them. And every day, the teacher invites her in for story time with the class.
She has the most wonderful teachers at kindy, who take the best care of my baby. They take her skin care seriously, and never fail to reapply her sunblock, and always answer other children's questions about Olive in the factual and no-nonsense manner that both Eddie and I encourage. In fact, I never even knew about the other kids curiosity until a conversation with Olive that made me realise that she too has adopted the same approach.
We were lying in bed and out of the blue, she said, "Mummy, sometimes kids say 'Olive, what's that brown stuff on your back?' "
"Oh really? What do you say?" I asked her.
"I just tell them it's my birthmark."
"Good answer bub. You don't say it's a nevus though ?" I asked, surprised by her answer because we never call it a birthmark.
"Nah I say birthmark because most people don't know what a nevus is, but they know what a birthmark is."
My 4 year old told me this. Her perception of recognising an easier way for OTHERS to understand her difference in a way that is relevant to them blows me away. This is not something Eddie or I have taught her, as we have always explained that a nevus is something most people don't have, so she is special, but that inside our hearts we are all the same. For her to perceive this in the way she does and to relate it in a way that might be more understandable for others, speaks volumes about her own little (or big!) heart.
She is a child who takes free will to the extreme, and still never fails us to make us laugh with her wit and warped sense of both humour and inquisition. Just the other day she asked if everyone just have heaps of holes on their head. When I laughed and said no, why would you think that, she answered, "for the hairs to come out!" I had to backtrack and say that yes, I suppose they do!
She's been counting down the sleeps until Santa comes (or Father Christmas in her words, even though the rest of us say Santa) and with just one sleep left, I can't wait to see her squishy little face on Christmas morning. The big kids are loving playing along with the magic. Even though they both know the truth, they are learning that the magic comes from within and they are encouraging this with their baby sister when they help her write letters to Santa, or plant jelly beans to grow and into candy canes.
Amongst the fighting between them all (yes even Olive, tough little thing she is!), they make my heart melt when they take care of each other and work together.
My kids, while resilient, are also very compassionate and understanding. I have needed this in them the last few months as I myself have not been well. Along with drenching night sweats, unintentional weight loss and extreme fatigue, I've been having excruciating episodes of abdominal pain and vomiting. When these episodes come on, I can do nothing but lie down and wait a few hours until it passes. My kids have been amazing, helping me when they can and keeping an eye on Olive so I can get through it.
Thankfully, they have ruled out lymphoma after an urgent CT scan, which means because of the inflammation shown on the CT I'm likely looking at inflammatory bowel disease (not to be confused wit irritable bowel syndrome). As if coeliacs wasn't enough, I have to go and add something else to the mix too! But as with everything else we get dealt, I will face this head on as well. The last few days have actually seen the pain taking a break, so fingers crossed for a great Christmas!
Last year I did a Facebook post about all I am thankful for. This year is no different.
As always, I am thankful for the loving and supportive family I have. Despite all the ups and downs of a large family, we all still band together and are there for each other when we need it.
I am thankful for the happiness and health of my children, in particular my Olive who, 4 years in from her scary birth, has shown us that we don't need to fear the unknown - it is all just a different path.
I am thankful for my beautiful friends who understand that when I'm a crap friend and don't see them for far too long, it just means life is getting in the way and that I still love them to pieces. And the friends who make me do things I can't be assed doing to put a smile on the kids faces. And one particular friend who will grab my kids from school or take them when I'm having a bad pain day.
I am thankful we have a sunny and dry house to live in and that my husband works his butt off to provide that house, and all the necessities of life so I can still be a stay-at-home Mum, and we can give our kids what they need.
Though I still have challenges in the near future, I consider myself very lucky to be blessed with such amazing people who, without them, make my challenges easier to deal with.
I love you all and I wish you all a very merry Christmas with your families and friends. Xxx