Looking back on 2021

Published Categorized as Life, Motherhood

I considered shutting down this blog, since I’m only really writing here once or twice a year. But I just looked back over my 2020 wrap up post and it was so nice to revisit that I’m going to keep going for now! So here is my yearly-ish post for the year, wrapping up 2021.

Firstly, just a preface that where we live in Perth, we’ve been largely unaffected by the pandemic aside from a couple of short lockdowns and restrictions. Our family wasn’t massively affected (aside from almost having a baby during a lockdown), which I’m very grateful for and privileged to continue life pretty much as normal. I know this wasn’t the case for everybody, and it’s been a really tough year for a lot of people. It feels like we’re cautiously entering 2022, and I hope high vaccination rates help this year to be a less anxious one.

Highs

Having a baby. Well not so much the pushing out the baby part (see the Lows section), but little Raph is such a joy! The vulnerability and complete dependence of a baby is overwhelming and intense and beautiful. I’m not sure if he’ll ever escape comparisons to Felix – the plight of being a younger sibling! – but he’s proving to be very much his own person. He’s sweet and silly, very loud, and adores Felix and Jasper. I was very lucky to spend almost all of the year on parental leave, and I had to keep reminding myself to be in the moment, as this is likely the last time I’ll be raising my own baby. Our family feels very much complete.

Mum life. At this early point in our kids lives, so much happens in a year. Felix is almost three years old, and has gotten so articulate, independent, inventive and strong-willed. He’s very much a toddler and is not so keen on Raph playing with his toys, but I can see glimpses of how their relationship will (hopefully) grow along with them. Although I’m very grateful for the days I only have to look after one kid, it’s been a really nice year of parental leave spending more time with my family.

Still life painting. I didn’t think that still life was really my thing, but I’ve really enjoyed it this year. Mostly I’ve worked digitally on my iPad, in the evening when the kids are in bed, but managed one acrylic on canvas which I’m very proud of. Definitely more of this in 2022!

Abstract painting. I’ve admired abstract paintings for years, and discovered from previous attempts how much harder it is than it looks! I was so hesitant to even begin, and had canvases and paint sitting in my cupboard for years. Whilst on leave, I signed up for some Artify courses and decided to just have a go. It got harder to find the time to work on this once Raph left the sleepy newborn stage, but I took any opportunity to splash some paint on and ended up creating a few pieces that I think look pretty okay! I don’t know if this is something I’ll continue with now that I’m back to work, but I feel pretty proud that I jumped in and did the thing instead of just thinking about it forever.

Other creative things. Jeff signed me up for a pottery class for Mother’s Day, and I realised how much I missed working with clay! My pinch pots are imperfect, odd-looking vessels and I love them. I also did another floral wreath workshop, which I think I’ll just make a yearly tradition/preset to myself because it’s so much fun. Committing to a workshop is such a good way to carve out some creative time, so I’m hoping to do a bit more of that this year.

Family photos. DIY family photos are now too hard, so I got a professional photographer and love the results.

Finances. I stumbled into personal finance territory thinks to Instagram, and learned enough to very tentatively dip my toes into investing in shares. Podcasts like She’s on the Money and Girls That Invest have made this stuff easier to understand and less intimidating. Although I ended up spending a good bit of the year learning about this stuff, I can’t say it’s a big interest of mine – mostly I wanted to set us up so that I can spend the minimum amount of time thinking about it from here. We’ll see how well my systems hold up in the new year.

Lows

Giving birth. It was very very long and very very hard and I’m never doing it again. I’ve definitely heard of worse and obviously it all turned out fine but it still sucked. That is all.

Mum life. There’s good and bad, especially when you’re in the trenches with a toddler and a newborn. The sleep deprivation, the constant feeds, the complete lack of privacy or time alone. Little hands always touching you, little voices always asking for you, usually at the same time. It’s beautiful but it’s hard, even when you’re lucky to have everything go as smoothly as can be expected. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now that night wakings are starting to wane, but as any parent knows it’s always evolving.

Sickness. I feel like we spent half of the year with some sickness or other, both kids had surgery and my mum became increasingly unwell towards the end of the year. She received a cancer diagnosis just before Christmas, and passed away in early 2022. It’s been hard.

Thoughts for 2022

This year I’m back at work full time, which is full on especially with the loss of my mum. I’m focusing on regaining momentum after having babies, with Jeff swapping in as the stay at home parent for the year.

This year I will: spend time appreciating where I am, instead of dreaming about where I’d like to be. Choose connecting to people whenever I can, even if it means being vulnerable or risking making it weird. Get a promotion. Regain my physical strength and confidence in what my body can do. Donate at least 1% of my income to effective charities. Invest in shares and in my health. Take more selfies. Curl my hair even if I’m not going anywhere special. Use my imperfect handmade vessels. Go to the gym unapologetically in a crop top and bike shorts. Do walking meetings. Listen to people I don’t agree with.

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