January started out (no, I am NOT going to through this month by month; January had a lot going on, as you'll read) pretty eventful: My sister had her beautiful daughter, we found out we were having a boy (on the same day! Although I'll allow that C's birth trumped J's revealed gender), and my youngest sister got engaged. Oh, and we got a new-to-us car.
As the year moved on, I became more pregnant and more worried about how the local budget would affect my job. I home-schooled an amazing boy and got to give him some small semblance of a normal life before he succumbed to cancer just before Christmas. We repainted the guest room to become the baby's room, got furniture and many lovely gifts from many lovely people, added a few new fixtures and paint colors to other parts of the house, and put car seat bases in. I fell more in love with my husband and my new niece, gained a new respect for my sister as she tried on motherhood for the first time, and found out my other sister would have a baby in November. I also gained a new appreciation for my own mother and mother-in-law, especially, as they guided me through those first few months with J. My friend M taught me how to change a boy's diaper without getting peed on...though J still manages to get control of the hose every now and then.
Well, budget came through, J was born and T and I became parents, and five days after that, I lost my job. This led to scrambling desperately for health insurance, and T took on that burden alone, as I was in no condition to do anything but nurse and not walk up and down stairs. I looked for jobs every day, went on a few interviews, and came to realize a few things:
1) Once fall hit, I realized that while unemployment was (and is) scary, I would never, ever have had this time otherwise. I would've gone back to work with J at eight weeks old in day care, and now he's over six months and I have spent almost every day getting to know him and see him grow and change. I've used the word "serendipitous" more than I ever thought I would. I may never have this chance again to spend time with my child, and I'm grateful for every day of it.
2) Perhaps I need to/want to do something other than teaching. I love the classroom, but my former place of employment never felt quite right, as I've written about before. The combination of lack of teaching positions available, the knowledge that the 2012-2013 budgets for schools will tighten even more, and the sheer necessity to look at my other skills and talents has led me to believe perhaps I could do something different yet still connected to what I love. Still waiting to see how that turns out, fingers crossed, and I have a few leads that I will pursue until someone shakes my hand and says, "Welcome aboard". I have to, financially, and I want to, personally.
3) You can still manage to do a lot with less and remain happy. Forced perspective is still perspective.
So motherhood has been incredible and stressful and scary and wonderful. I've made new friends, caught up with old ones, and worked hard on keeping those people in my life who enrich it and dropping those who don't. I've gone through peaks and valleys with my husband and realized even more than before that I'm grateful every day to walk through life side by side. Friends of mine expanded their own families and allowed me to celebrate other milestones with them. I'd say I feel fortunate that 2011 has, for me, been the best year of my life so far. We'll see what 2012 brings.
Resolutions? Oh, I don't know...I feel sometimes they're these grand ideas that make us feel bad when they don't come to fruition. But I think it's good to have goals, so I'll make a few:
- Read as many of the books on my shelf as possible. I've had unread books there for a year or more.
- Get a job and do it to my best ability
- Stay healthy in terms of exercise and eating, but allow myself rest and treats, too
- Continue making my marriage a partnership with my best friend
- Be as good a mother to J as possible while accepting the fact that I'll have bad days
- Do things that honestly enrich my life. Most of these don't include anything electronic.