With the beginning of a new year comes a flurry of posts on social media, about the highlights that have been during the past year, and the happiness that may come in the next. Looking back on the year that we’ve had, I’ve found it a little bit difficult to join in the joyful exclamations of a “Happy New Year!”. Of course I wish that we’ll all have a happy 2018, but there’s so much uncertainty in life, and although 2017 has been amazing for us in many ways, it has also – just like the two previous years – been keen to remind me not to take anything for granted.
I didn’t go quite as far as posting a “Memento Mori” on my page for New Years Eve, but I sensed I might not be the only one with mixed feelings, so I let my ambivalence shine through in this facebook post:
“Every social media feed is full of “Happy New Year!” and “Highlights of 2017” posts…
Me, I’ve never been very good at new year celebrations, always feeling the pressure of perfection. Did I do enough this year, will I do well enough next year, and so on. And this year has been a roller-coaster ride. So I’m heading into 2018 feeling confused, tired and a bit anxious. But I also feel anticipation, hope and excitement about continuing this journey of life and learning with Penguin.
So, for the new year, just like before, I will try to keep my focus mainly on the positives, to stay sane and hopefully constructive 😌
And I wish you all a year that will be ‘good enough’, and with a bit of luck, it might even be amazing…⭐️”
To expand on this: The year before last, 2016, was in many ways a terrible year for us as a family, and it very nearly had us falling apart. The good side to that was that it spurred us on to make some BIG changes, which looking back I kind of wish we’d made sooner. But I guess we needed to hit the bottom in order to start pushing our way up again. So, at the very end of 2016 we started ‘a new life’, and beginning our home education journey with Penguin has been central in this.
There has been so many positives to this (some of which I’ve written about before here, and some which I’ll elaborate on in future posts), and I’m sure the changes we’ve made are for the better for Penguin as well as for me and my husband. In many ways we’re better off now, as a family, as parents and as individuals. This year, I’ve finnaly been allowed to be more of the parent I’ve wanted to be, being there for my son, properly, not trying to juggle full-time work to fit around his needs, as well as our needs as a family.
However, compared to where I was hoping (and in some ways even expecting) us to be a year on, there are also many things that leave a lot to wish for. On a materialistic plane, I’m probably worse off than I’ve ever been, while on an emotional plane, possibly better than ever, or at least better than in a very long time.
I think I share these feelings of ambivalence with many others, and perhaps mostly so with other special needs parents? The emotional highs and lows seem to be enhanced by the worrying, the hoping, the fighting, and the struggles around things that I think most parents can take for granted once the child has left toddlerhood, such as eating, sleeping, talking, going to the toilet, etc.
But I can look back on 2017 and celebrate that it was year that Penguin stopped being underweight, and can also rejoice in the fact that it’s been over a year since we last had to buy nappies for him. And I’m keeping my fingers crossed for no regression in those areas, or in any others either if we’re lucky (though maybe that’s hoping for too much). We’ve also seen great improvement in motor skills, attention and auditory processing, and I believe that lower stress levels have played a vital part for Penguin’s development overall.
So, I’m entering 2018 full of both anticipation and apprahension. And I will keep doing my best to make every day a good day for Penguin. Admittedly I’ll fail every now and then, but as I said in my fb post above, I’ll try to stay constructive and focus on the many positives of this life with my special boy. So let the journey continue…
Here’s to a hopeful new year!