As this year comes to an end, I am left pondering where it has gone… It seems like I have blinked and Thomas has become a young man, Charlotte and Lillie young ladies; A9 has crept into adolescence with her usual placidity and B6 is no longer a toddler, her podginess has left her and she is becoming a beautiful young girl.
And Gary and I? Well, we are noticing actors from our childhood are now looking unrecognisably old and wrinkly, which probably means we are also unrecognisably old and wrinkly. Seconds pass, minutes pass, hours pass, all in a blur of everyday life, and before we know the days, weeks and months trip over themselves and a whole year has gone.
A year and a half has passed since the disintegration of a favourite friendship. I thought I would never get over it, and yet God has brought new friendships into our lives. These are healthy, balanced and loving friendships. Precious in their newness; precious in their beauty. No-one could ever take the place of the friendship I lost, but God has given us a family who think like us, who live their lives in a similar way to us, and who are tender and loving. We love together, we laugh together, we work together. We pray for each other, when one falls the other is there. It is a nurturing friendship. And best of all, the whole of the two families are close. Thomas has found a wonderful friend in their eldest son, the twins have found a very stable and uplifting friendship with their eldest girl and all the littles play beautifully together. It is a peaceful friendship and one I am so grateful to have in our lives.
Then there is Nik. My oldest and closest friend, we have been in each other’s lives since I was 20. We have been through everything together: infertility, adoption, cancer, the death of our dads, the birth of Thomas, followed swiftly by the twins…she has been there for me and me for her. I think sometimes when you end one close friendship, it creates a deeper appreciation for the healthy relationships in your life.
We have both always prioritised this friendship, but this year we have grown particularly close. But what we both enjoy the most is watching our children (Nik has two boys the same age as our older ones) building serious, and loving friendships with each other. They are great, great friends who adore each other. Nik and I stand on the side-lines sometimes, our hearts warmed by the sight of two dark heads sketching together as J and Lillie enjoy creating together; Thomas and C talking animatedly about scooting and skateboarding; Charlotte and C share secrets together; and all of them helping each other to get through the ups and downs of teen-dom. We are so blessed to have them in our lives.
This year I have spent more time on home-school than I would like. It’s funny, I always thought schooling the older ones would be a doddle, after all they would be independent, right? Well, yes, they are. However, because they are working towards IGCSEs there is not so much freedom in their days. They are beating to someone else’s drum, and taking lots of past papers whilst doing so. Past papers are the BANE of my life 🙁 Honestly. I mark them on a Thursday evening. Each week there are English Lit papers for Charlotte and English Language papers for Thomas. They take forever to mark! It feels good though to see the improvement each week in their work, and I guess it is a good way of keeping in touch with all they are learning. Fortunately I don’t need to do Latin papers just yet, or Law, or Biology (next year we will start all of those in preparation for their summer exams….yay, can’t wait!).
Lillie’s photography is still taking up lots of my time, which I am happy to give. She is doing an A level equivalent which is meant for 17 year olds and above, and she is doing it in a year instead of two. If we had understood the leap from what is expected at level 2 (IGCSE) to Level 3 (A Level), we probably would have held off for a year or two (or three…). Lillie is holding on by a thread, with lots of support. She has an average of 88%, so obviously has some talent. It is jolly hard work though and very time consuming.
I seem to be reaching some sort of comfortable pace with the little ones. A9 is so very interested in maths and science, history is taking a bit more of a backseat. I am thinking of simply doing the Mystery of History with them rather than unit studies, and use the rest of the time to focus on science and maths.
For someone who struggles so much with the basic skills of reading and writing, A9 shows real promise in science and maths, and understands tricky concepts relatively easily. They both LOVE maths, and I love teaching them. Life of Fred and living maths rocks and is soooooo much more enjoyable to both teach and learn compared to text-book or video learning.
I think in the new year I will probably up the ante with their science and nature studies and reduce the amount of history and geography. Regardless, I am thoroughly enjoying my time with them each day. They are at a fantastic age to teach 🙂
My mum still helps out for an hour each day. She has the little ones and listens to them read, does hand writing and some English language work with them. They love this time with her, and she with them. I don’t see or talk to her as much as I would like. We are so close emotionally and physically (she lives next door), but I am so time poor at the moment. We both try to prioritise our relationship and often go out to dinner or to the cinema together, and each Saturday we get together and she cooks for me and watch Strictly Come Dancing together. Once that has ended we’ll go back to watching the Monarch of the Glen with a veggie lasagne round at ours.
All this school related work means I have had less and less time for my blog. This makes me very sad. I love my blog, I love writing it, and looking back reading it. I love the friendships I have made (and am particularly appreciative of the blogging friends who continue to leave messages even though I am struggling to get to their blogs). Maybe this year my priorities have needed to change, but I am determined that I will rejig my days next year so that I have time to blog as I did in the past.
As this year comes to a close, I am counting my blessings. I have been cancer free for six years now. Six incredible years in which I have had the opportunity to watch my five gorgeous children grow and blossom. Six years to impart (my very own brand) of wisdom in their lives (stop sniggering Thomas!!). Six years to watch my older three change from the most wonderful 9 and 10 year olds into ever more incredible teens. Six years in which my then three year old has blossomed into a chatty, happy and confident 9 year old. And six years of warm snuggles from my not so babyish baby.
I will never take these days, months and years for granted. Each day is a blessing. Each day an excuse to hold my five babies close to my heart. Every talk we have, every cuddle we share, every tear I wipe….I am honoured to be such a large part of their lives. And I thank God for every single minute with them.
Then there is the man I am blessed to call my husband. Sometimes I look at my life, my family and my soul mate with disbelief. Even after twenty years of marriage, I still can’t believe he chose me. I get to wake up next to him each morning, and I get to snuggle last thing with him at night. I didn’t know marriages like ours existed until I experienced it for myself. We are a partnership in every way possible. I never have to face anything alone, because he is always there. My biggest cheer-leader, and the one who always sees the best in me even when I can not see it for myself. I can not imagine my life without him in it. I am the best version of myself because of him.
So, as I bring my yearly wrap-up to an end, I can see that it is the people in my life who have taken central stage in my year: from my precious family, to my equally precious friends. It is as it always has been: relationships, relationships, relationships. This coming year I want to be able to say that I prioritised relationships over and above everything else. Something needs to change to slow our lives down a little; to catch hold of the moments and cherish them a little before moving on. I will be purposefully taking December off from blogland. I want to pray over my priorities. I want to make sure I am spending the right time on the right things. I want to know that next year will move a little slower for us all. We don’t ever know what our future holds. Really, now is all we have. And I want to make next year’s nows matter, and ensure that the now of tomorrow is spent in an intentional and blessed way.
I wish all of you a very merry, delight-filled Christmas, surrounded by those people who mean the most to you.