As this time of year comes around everyone seems to get contemplative; gathering up their memories of the year and taking stock. And yeah it’s cliched because we can do this anytime we like but there’s something about a new year and a fresh slate that is sort of irresistibly appealing.
I know I write a lot about my daughters and my husband but not often about me, I guess because my needs often get shelved as I take on the role of advocate, wife and mother in the foreground most often. Raising four children is often times like trying to shove an octopus into a netted bag – shit is just going everywhere! The process of stripping bare the layers that make me who I am and the fact that those layers consist of my four incredible daughters mean that as they each go off to school, I’m forming who I am again. It’s quietly exhilarating and liberating.
This year is going to be the first time in my entire 10 year marriage where I am not pregnant and wrangling a toddler. For real. Soon I’ll be finished breastfeeding, soon our final baby (who is over 2.5 years of age) will move out of our bedroom and into sharing with her sister.
So what about me? I’m 29, and I’ll be 30 in 2017. I had my first baby when I was 19, and that baby will be 10 this year. I’m not autistic but yet I am surrounded by marvellously complicated and layered autistic peeps who I adore and who push me to see the world from new angles. And let’s not forget my second daughter, who is my neurotypical ally.
But anyway. I am studying, and this semester I’ll be taking on 3 subjects and it is my hope that this time next year I’ll be a graduate of Journalism which I am really excited about, because I hope to write part-time for my living after that. Writing has always been a passion and outlet of mine and it just so happens I write about autism a lot because I guess, how the saying goes – write about what you know, hey? I think writing about autism serves as a catharsis for me, and if it’s helping others on similar journeys – then that’s even better. But I know about a lot of other stuff too. I am a passionate hairy-pitted feminist who actively campaigns for better maternal health access, I have birthed 3 out of my 4 girls at home and I could talk about birth all day long. I am passionate about respectful parenting without rewards, shame or punishment and body autonomy and consent. I want my girls to be strong little women, even if it’s painfully full-on now as they’re learning how to master their wiles.
I love art. Our house is covered in artwork; a lot of which is mine but lots of the girls too, and lots from friends and I actually want to buy more but I think my husband’s eyes might actually pop out of his head if I did. I love to eat. Lots. I love to move, I love being out in nature. I hate hate hate coriander, avocado and I think most wine tastes foul… but I won’t say no to a cider. I was abused for many many years as a child. I lost my Grandma this year who was a real matriarch to my family and I miss her dearly. I haven’t really had a present mother for many years as she’s been unwell with either Alzheimers or Dementia (currently undiagnosed), and I struggle with the loss of a role she’s had in my life for a number of reasons – and I can only hope the way I am parenting my girls is carving strong pathways for my maternal connection to them, despite my own relationship with my mother being unhealthy and absent.
At the end of each year I like to set a new word to act as a touchstone which can help anchor me back to major goals I have for myself. This year’s word was “breathe” which was amusing, considering how often I felt like I was either suffocating or exhausted from treading water.
So next year. Next year my word is going to be “release“.
I’m going to release myself from the hold of toxic relationships.
I’m going to release myself from the curse that is expectation.
I’m going to release myself from the expectation that I have to do it all and be everyones everything.
I am going to release myself from the guilt I experience when I do nothing at all.
I’m going to release myself from the demands others make of me and remember to prioritise my own needs a little bit, every day.
I’m going to release myself from the grasp that four children bring and make dates with my incredible, sexy, intelligent, amazing husband regular and nurture our marriage.
The only other thing I can commit to is regular Sunday Family Adventures where we go someplace new in our amazing part of the country as a family and eat and explore. The rest.. well, I’ll leave that up to the universe. Unlike the majority of the people living in my house, I for one love surprises…. so, bring it.
And would you believe it, my period arrived today – which is normally bang on time, a few days after it was due. So my body is physically releasing now, too.
I hope that this year you’re able to let go of what isn’t serving you, find your happy regularly and take time out for yourself too. I am so very grateful for all the support my writing has garnered, and I feel privileged to have made so many new connections this year as a result of it and look forward to a new year making new grounds.
Blessings and all that other clichéd shit,