It’s that time of year again. And I can see there’s nothing I’ve posted since the last one. There has been a lot going on in my life. Including a shift in mood over the course of the year that finally has me back to feeling like a version of myself that I’m happy with. What follows is a summary of some of the highlights (and some lowlights) of the year 2019.
The year started out rough when we discovered our child’s food allergy. It was one of the scariest moments I’ve ever experienced, having to go to the ER for an allergic reaction and not knowing how severe it might become. Over the holidays I had just started realizing how far behind I was getting at regular life, and that maybe I should start outsourcing some things. The first one I was about ready to give up was going to be good, but the allergy meant I was suddenly suspicious of everything I didn’t make myself.
The bright side of the food paranoia was that it forced us into eating more healthy and less costly meals. But it also isolated us from many of the activities with friends and family that would typically involve food. It was hard to find the upside among the hits we took this winter, but much of that was still part of my own mind focusing on the rough spots.
This winter was particularly snowy for several weeks straight. It made it difficult to commute back and forth. The trip would take at least twice as long as usual, or some days it was actually treacherous to travel, so we worked from home. I really struggled with the fact that I would often only see my son awake for a few minutes a day. However, I finally had finally gotten approval for our department to have each team member take a single day to work remote per week. Those days were the bright spots in what amounted to a very dark winter.
I was able to attend a women in computing event as one of the panelists speaking on the subject of computer science outreach (as a result of my employer’s sponsorship to attend and recruit at the event). That event served as a catalyst (and deadline) for me to kickstart my passion project: the Various Characters Org, local women in tech support group.
I spent the month building a plan, drumming up interest, and learning strategies to run a business. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and gave me something to do outside of work and home life (which had been all-consuming for over a year). I reached out to other women in my community to help give me encouragement and accountability. Taking that first step was hard, since it had such a potential to fail, but it connected me with a support system that continues to grow in many ways.
One of the ways I reached out and became a part of a community was by joining a toddler movement class. I got to connect with other moms, many with children the same age as my own, and built friendships with them that did not include the guilt, jealousy, or comparison games that I had built up in my own head. It was just as amazing to watch my son growing and learning and forming his own friendships as it was to feel connected myself. Carving out and prioritizing time to enjoy being his mother and spending time with him definitely helped me feel more like the mother I aspire to be. This activity is one I don’t foresee giving up anytime soon, and one I can heartily endorse!
We celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary by taking our first family vacation of just us three to Mackinac. The island life was a taste of the slow life, no cars and no cell phones meant no worries. Weather and a slight cold kept us to a slower pace than I initially expected to have, but it turned out to be just what I needed, a forced slow down and reset. It meant prioritizing what we actually wanted to experience and getting the rest we needed. I’m so happy to have had that escape from real life, and I can’t wait to head back again.
Besides getting more chances to enjoy the beautiful weather that had finally come to stay, I spent the month of June looking forward to seeing the Broadway show of Anastasia. I remember that was one of the first movies I ever saw in a theater as a kid, and it was always one of my favorites. When I heard it was on Broadway I fruitlessly tried to come up with excuses to visit NYC, so I was especially excited to find it was touring through our city.
July was our big vacation. We visited Florida and got to do both touristy things and spend time with family. We visited theme parks for the first time with our own child and we got to play many games with my parents and aunt and uncle.
The airplane trip was also our first with a child in tow. At this point, I’m very familiar with the process, having done it alone plenty of times during college. I was relieved that the trip, back and forth, went fairly smoothly.
I enjoyed spending the month of with my sister before she went back to school again for the fall semester. We were able to have some exciting adventures and some enjoyable hijinks. I worked hard to turn the back yard into an oasis to enjoy spending time outdoors instead of being “trapped” in my own home. Putting chairs and an awning in the yard with some fun toys to keep my toddler occupied was one of the best decisions I had ever made. It was amazing how something so simple, and maybe even obvious, had such a big impact on my routine and happiness.
The beautiful fall/late summer weather was perfect for all the bike riding we did. I think we managed to make it out at least once a week. Riding back and forth to our little town just for the sake of a trip out was so enjoyable, and it felt like a promise of the years to come where we will be able to make the same trip again and again as a family.
I felt torn to know that this month is truly the turning of the seasons where we live. Not only does it mark the resume of scholastic calendars, but the last few precious days of true warm weather. I have to believe part of the reason I made time for all the trips outdoors was the fact that those trips were now limited in number. And I am all to well aware of the fact that my own child will be making the same pilgrimage “back to school” in a few short years!
Getting to celebrate Halloween (at least the dressing up parts of it) with my son was such a blast! Watching him learn about costumes and play with other kids his age at the parties we attended was the highlight of the month.
I was so proud of myself for choosing to accept my limits and spend some time specifically enjoying the celebration with him instead of trying to power through and get things done. By taking advantage of the time off I’ve earned at work instead of holding onto it for a sickday or a big vacation I was able to actually enjoy myself instead of feeling guilty and torn over my priorities. I even got some opportunities to connect with friends during those days off, instead of staying stuck in my regular social circle of work people. It was so nice to feel valued and listened to for my personal opinions and not just my professional ones.
We discovered the new library and spent many hours exploring the stacks of books. It felt good to be able to engage in our local community and have a place indoors we can look forward to visiting. I’ve missed reading physical books myself (I only have time for audiobooks now, and anything paper makes me nervous it will get damaged by the handsy toddler).
I also got the chance to stretch some of my web administration skills in performing a site and email migration. It didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped at first, but in the end everything was resolved better than I had hoped it would be.
The best part of the month was getting to see my sisters for Thanksgiving Break. I truly miss it when I cannot spend that season with them, so it was a lovely turn of events to see them both together.
This month has flown past in a blur of preparations and activity. As every December seems to. On top of all the business of the holiday season I came down with a nasty cold that has lingered for half the month. As the new year dawns it brings renewed strength and hopes for a new year, a new decade, in which still more joy, growth, and change will follow.