2010 was a tough year, one of the toughest of my life. It had wonderful moments, yes, but I spent a lot of the year feeling tired, overwhelmed, and stressed to the breaking point. I guess that's typical for the first year of first-time motherhood.
Just about every year since I started blogging in 2004, I've done a little recap on the year, using the questions below. If you decide to answer these on your blog (or Facebook page), feel free to leave a link in the comments.
1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year? Wow. I had to make a list of everything that happened this year in order to find a "single best thing." My answer would have to be "finding Angela." Angela is Anne's sitter, whom I found on craiglist.org after Anne's original sitter, Dottie, unexpectedly retired due to health issues. Dan had just gone to camp for ten weeks, I was home alone and working full time, and I suddenly had no one to watch my six-month-old daughter all day. Angela was one of several who answered a child-care ad I'd put on craigslist.org, and she was the only candidate who sounded at all feasible. She got the job, and she does a wonderful job, and I'm so glad she and her family have become a part of our lives.
2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened? The two weeks that I was without child care (see #1) were pretty challenging. The whole year was challenging--working full-time and trying to be a good mom who is there for her daughter. Pumping three times a day. Going to Angela's to nurse Anne every day during my lunch hour. Having a colicky baby the first three months. Oh, and the road trip to Indiana, Ohio, and Virginia with a five-month-old, where we stayed at a different house every night. Having my most severe depression since 2006 descend on me this fall. They have all been challenging. I don't know if I can pick a "single most" out.
3. What was an unexpected joy this past year? Befriending Consuelo, my Compassion child, through handwritten letters. The way certain people really came through for me when I was at wit's end, at home alone with a colicky baby. Watching Miss Anne grow. (Not unexpected, but ... well, I didn't know what to expect, exactly, so that's all been wonderful.)
4. What was an unexpected obstacle? Thinking we were going to have Dottie as Anne's sitter for a couple of years, and then having to find a new one just three months after Dottie started watching Anne. There was also the depression. I can't say it was unexpected, since I have a history of depression, but it was certainly unwelcome. And I forget how utterly incapacitating it can be.
5. Pick three words to describe 2010. Scattered. Overwhelmed. Lost.
6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2010 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you). Strong. Short-tempered. Tired.
7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2010 (again, without asking). Overworked. Lonely. Stressed.
8. What were the best books you read this year? Southbound, by Lucy and Susan Letcher. I'm also currently re-reading Anna Karenina, which is one of the best books I've read in my life, so I guess it qualifies as one of the best books of my year.
9. With whom were your most valuable relationships? Sweet Anne, my mom, my husband, my sister, my friend Felix, and a couple of friends at work.
10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year? I felt hopeful at the beginning of the year. Now I mostly feel lost and defeated. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I feel like a mere shadow of what I was before.
11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally? This is such a complicated question. I've grown in my love for my daughter, and in my ability to love and care about someone far more than I could ever love or care about myself.
12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually? I'm really learning what it means, on a very practical and immediate level, to die to self. I am getting a much clearer understanding of grace. I did an in-depth study of the book of James and, by chance, read David Platt's Radical not long after that, and, even though I'm not a particularly materialistic person (for a middle-class American), I have really begun to look at how material things get in the way of spiritual things.
13. In what way(s) did you grow physically? In weird ways, that's what! Technically, I lost all my "baby weight," so my old clothes all fit me again. However, because of scheduling, nursing, fatigue, etc., I haven't (despite my best efforts) succeeded in starting and maintaining a regular exercise routine, so I've lost almost all of my muscle. (I was training for another half-marathon when I got pregnant, so I was pretty fit at the time.)
14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others? One thing I hated about this year is that I found myself being more dependent on others than I've ever been. It really was a year in which I felt like I was drowning and constantly needed people to throw out life preservers and reel me in. That has been humbling because I'm an independent-minded introvert who does not like to rely on--or even interact with--others. I guess that has helped me to grow in relationships with people because I've been forced to take off any masks I might have of self-sufficiency and independence.
15. What was the most enjoyable area of managing your home? The day Dan said "yes" to my 8-year-long request to hire someone to clean our house. It was a one-time thing, but words cannot express the joy I felt at coming home to a clean, good-smelling home for the entire week after they cleaned. Oh, and another thing: Dan has really been helpful in the home-management area, particularly since the long hours of development season at work began this fall. I probably don't thank him enough for that.
16. What was your most challenging area of home management? My darling daughter! No, it isn't all her fault. The combination of having a darling, drooling, toy-scattering, crumb-dropping daughter, and working so much that I rarely had energy to cook, clean, etc. Those two things combined made home management a challenge this year.
17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year? The Facebook Friend Finder. I rarely send friend requests, but, for some reason, I get sucked into looking for people I know in the Friend Finder. Oh, and Google Reader. It's a great tool, but it also tempts me into reading a lot of blog posts that don't really interest me.
18. What was the best way you used your time this past year? Pumping several times a day and nursing Miss Anne. Pumping is a pain, and I lost my lunch hour each day going to nurse Anne, but it has been so worth it. Not only am I doing what's healthiest for Anne, but we've had some serious bonding to boot.
19. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year? That it's possible to pretend to have lots of energy for playing with blocks and reading nursery rhymes when you're really so tired that you could fall asleep standing up, and probably stay that way for 12 hours.
20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2010 for you. "This is the last straw." I need to make some changes in 2011--for my mental health, for my relationship with my husband, and for my daughter's life. Having Miss Anne brought a lot of hidden "I've-been-doing-life-wrong-all-along" realizations to the surface, and I seriously need to look at what's wrong and make some changes.
So, those are my thoughts on this past year. (Sorry if it was a bit of a downer!) I hope all of you, dear readers, have a happy and blessed 2011!