Happy New Year!
It was quite a quiet one for us this year, a whispered party at home with the teetotal in-laws whilst FireGirl slept. She didn’t even wake up when all the fireworks went off. Despite the low key celebration, I was really happy; excited about the opportunities and changes this year will hopefully bring.
It wasn’t always this way. That first year, I was 5 months post partum, 4 months put of hospital and sunk well in to postnatal depression. When Jools Holland and co chimed in midnight, I allowed myself a tiny sip of champagne (I was still heavily medicated and not supposed to drink alcohol). I tried to hold it together but as I went round hugging and kissing my family, stinging tears betrayed me, welling up and over.
It wasn’t just the depression. New year is inevitably a time of reflection and review, and I was crushed by the stark comparison between how I’d started the year; excited and full of naive hope, with how I’d ended it; depressed, tranquilized and feeling like I was begrudgingly surviving motherhood rather than embracing it. How did I get here?
The following year was slightly better. I’d come a really long way. I was medication free, back at work (I’d thought my career was over once I’d been hospitalised) and felt like I was fairly content with life. I still had a way to go in trauma therapy though, and was still feeling a lot of shame about my mental health. FireGirl’s first birthday had come and gone, friends were announcing second pregnancies and I just wasn’t there yet, though I so wanted to be.
This time at midnight, the fireworks had woken my girl up and spooked her, so I broke with tradition and gave her my first kiss of the new year instead of my husband. We watched the sky light up out my parents’ spare room window, and as I watched her sleepy face light up, I whispered to her, “I’m really glad I’m here with you”, and I meant it. I love that girl so much.
New years can feel great, a time for new beginnings and a time for celebration. It can also feel awful. This natural time for reflection can leave us feeling like we’re not where we wanted to be and feeling disappointed in the year and ourselves. If, when the clock strikes midnight, you feel like crying instead of cheering, don’t be too hard on yourself. Allow yourself the tears. Hold fast brave mama, better times are right around the corner.