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2013 Reflective a la Facebook

Have you been on Facebook and asked to see your year in review? It's a new-ish link that allows you to see what they feel the most important events of the last twelve months were. I guess if you share a lot on Facebook, then they may be a little more accurate. But mine was way, way off.

So I looked over my calender and diary and came up with my own "Year in Review." Here’s 2013 in point format: The highlights and lowlights... (And these are completely subjective because memory fails.)

  •         January brought Quinn, our new little girl. She made us a family of four and she is amazing.
  •        Three babies died shortly after Quinn was born; one a miscarriage early in pregnancy, one in utero in the week he was due, and one by cot death. Quinn went from being amazing to being a miracle overnight. Her parents also became super paranoid, for a while.
  •     Was there a February?
  •       March, my birthday, lunch at Cleopatra and spoilt.
  •        I joined the world of the iPhone. Happy Days.
  •        I start running.
  •        After nearly forty years in the profession, my Mom retires from teaching.
  •        April, my father-in-law goes in to hospital. We were all so worried when the doctors couldn’t find the cause of his pancreatitus.  
  •          Father-in-law comes out of hospital. 
  •      I start enjoying running. Who would have thought? 
  •         May, Surprise birthday party for my hubby and it was awesome.
  •         Father-in-law back in hospital
  •         Father-in-law out of hospital again after about two weeks
  •        I became a god-mother for the first time to precious little Jack
  •        June, Madiba goes to hospital and rumours abound that he is dying
  •        My book goes live on Amazon and starts selling. The sales have still exceeded all expectations and are still going. 
  •     In the same intellectual space, my mother becomes a book seller.  
  •     July, Hubby and I do a road trip through the Karoo. Unbelievably, it was to celebrate a decade together. 
  •        Hubby is promoted to MD at his company – big pressure and big privilege
  •        My father-in-law goes to hospital again
  •        Emma-Kay is finally potty trained.
  •        August, My god-son and his family move away. His mom is one of my closest friends.
  •        I ran my first 5km race with a dear friend. We finished WAY below our goal time. So proud.
  •        Father-in-law is finally given the ‘all clear’ and released from hospital.
  •        September, Mandela is released from hospital and the speculation is, he has gone home to die.
  •        I become involved in a wonderful project called Estezi Community Organisation, helping helpless children get food daily, run by a selfless, wonderful woman called Thabisile
  •        October, I throw a bash to honour my MD of a husband and to celebrate his Dad being on the road to recovery.
  •        My uncle passes away. I was blessed with a chance to say goodbye, and blessed to have known him.    
  •        We go to Mauritius on a magical holiday
  •        November, Thabisile who runs Estezi, is murdered. 
  •        Emma-Kay turns three and has the best party ever – farm animals galore!
  •        Quinn starts crawling on her sister’s birthday
  •        Without me really noticing, my blog goes from being viewed a couple of times a month to a couple of hundred times (sometimes) a day!
  •        December; Choosing to forego Christmas presents for each other, my siblings-in-law decide to donate the equivalent in money to the Estezi – we manage to raise enough money to make a real difference for their Christmas.
  •         Nelson Mandela dies and the world comes to a standstill to mourn.
  •         We have several family get-togethers to signal in the festive season. Special guest star: my precious brother flown in from New Zealand. 
  •     We end the year off with the most spontaneous and fun Old Year's Eve party I've had in years. That can only be a good omen for 2014. 
      That’s quite a year. I wrote it in point form so that it could be seen as linearly as I saw it on Facebook. I marvelled at what this social networking site deemed important enough to call a ‘life event’ in my year. Are these really the things that matter most? I added a whole lot to the year’s details because a lot more happened. But even then, that is what my life has been reduced to for 2013.

Nowhere can you find evidence that it has been the saddest year in terms of people around me passing away. As my brother put it, we’ve had a very fortunate time in my family because we are blessed with longevity and good health, but eventually we will also be touched by mortality. Certainly, having a baby and then witnessing so many people losing babies in the same time window shook me to the core. Three women close to me had miscarriages at various stages. The death of Madiba was something I was dreading, because of the constant threat of violence without his peacekeeping presence, but there was no violence. Our people, instead, rallied together to mourn as a nation united.

Two incidents of crime, in this beloved country, also shook my little world. Firstly, Thabisile’s death at the hand of her nephew, which placed the lives of the orphans she cared for in a state of flux. It was so senseless and cruel.  Secondly, a young woman who was raped near my home while jogging in the early hours of the morning. This stopped my regular running in its tracks, sadly, and turned it into something that happens when I occasionally have a running buddy. 

Motherhood hasn’t always been easy. Marriage hasn’t always been peaches and cream, either. But at the end of the year, I am enormously pleased to still be in the position of experiencing and enjoying both.

I got to spend more time with my mom this year than many years before. It’s a treasure and a privilege. It’s also wonderful to see how much my daughters adore her. Watching her go from respected educationist to business woman has also been a marvel to behold. 

I watched two amazing movies my brother had a hand in. Man of Steel and The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug. It still amazes me when I watch something in a sold out cinema and his name appears in the credits. He has made us all so proud – not because of the enormity of the films he works on, but because he really is talented at what he does.

You can't see in a timeline any of the times I sobbed feeling helpless at my job, (motherhood!) or angry, or lonely, or simply grumpy. There's no way to communicate my expectations for the year that were met, or those that were failed. The frustrations over weight and sleeplessness and toddler tantrums don't show up as part of the year that was. And yet, they are the parts that seemed to consume most of my time.

There's no link that glorifies my weekly mom's group tea meeting. There's no special posting for the Skype chats or emails, or even text messages that made me happy. You also don't get to see the messages that infuriated me and saddened me; people who overstepped the mark or hurt me for no reason. I said goodbye to a few crappy friends, but ultimately, closed the doors to relationships that had sucked me dry in some regards. Now, the space I have for friendships is limited and more precious, which in turn makes time with friends just that. As Mies van der Rohe propagated, "less is more."

I haven't made any resolutions really for 2014. In the first month, (or so,) of the year I have a massive amount happening and to look forward to: A week with one of my dearest friends, a first birthday party for young Quinn, my eldest starting play school, my youngest starting Clamber Club, a wedding of an old family friend in the beautiful berg and Valentine's Day. 

So I took this moment, this blog post, to evaluate what I learnt in 2013 that I will carry forward in 2014. Again, excuse the linearity of it, but it's systematic and clear to see that way.

  1. Life is short. Too short to allow the bad stuff to hold you back: crime, grumpiness, sleeplessness, tantrums, crappy friends. 
  2. You can do it. I honestly still can't believe I ran a 5km race. I have set my own fitness goals for 2014, which I am certain will appear here from time to time. But running was my thing that I would never be able to do. No one believed I could. Especially me. But I did and so can you. And maybe it's not running, maybe it's shedding a kilo or two. Maybe it's stopping smoking. Maybe it's quitting your job. Maybe it's writing a book. Oh yes. I never believed I would have a book finished and read (by strangers the world over,) ever. 
  3. Balance is key. I nearly lost it with my hubby a few times this year, especially towards the end of the year when crunch time started for him at the office. I worried that he was under too much pressure. The harder you work, the more important it is to have an outlet for that stress. I know there are some who don't feel a stay-at-home-mom's job is a really stressful one, but I assure you it comes with it's own pressures. The resolution I made at the start of 2013 to make time for myself every day is probably what helped me end the year on a good note. Running and writing were the two things I did for me. They gave me that space to be a person again and not just a mom. Hubby can't only be a MD; a person shouldn't exist only to work, sleep and eat. So perhaps that is the one resolution I will carry out in 2014, to insist on balance in our home. 

2014 promises to be a year of highs and lows, much like 2013 was. In that way every year is the same. But, 2014 will be the year of the juice, (I have pledged to join the juicing revolution.) I have decided to re-read some of my favourite books. I will make the most of the few hours a day I will have a toddler at play school. As the home-maker in our house, I will aim to bring balance into our lives in some ways, starting with more quality time away as a family of four, (or five if you include the Beagle.) It would be nice if it were the year to shed baby-weight. It would be good if it were the year I ran a 10km race. It would be nice if Quinn were weaned some time soon. We need to decide if we're joining a gym this year; something we've been putting off for ages. It would be awesome to have more date nights with my hubby. Oh, and I would like to finish my next book.

Not too much to ask, surely? A lot can happen in a year, after all.

Happy New Year everyone. May 2014 have the best of 2013 and then some.          


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