2011 was a hard year. Really hard. It started while I was recovering from the worst illness I've ever had and from some personal issues that knocked me flat. It looked promising until the evening that my mom found a lump in her breast. It pretty much sucked hard after that. CANCER SUCKS.
I don't want to dwell on the cancer thing, but there is one thing I'd like to say about it. Not only does it devastate those who have it, but it's also a challenge for the people that love them. And one of the hardest things about it is that it never goes away. Even if all of my mom's treatments where 100% successful and she is truly cured, there always remains a kernel of "what if" that remains in the back of your mind. I suppose over time, that gets easier to deal with, but for now the knowledge that it could pop up again at any moment still weighs heavily on my mind. I no longer have the illusion that things are good and they will always be good. Granted, it's always an illusion, but for day to day living it a very practical one.
But enough about that. It's time to focus on some of the positives from last year. Because, despite a lot of awful, the year was filled with many wonderful things as well.
One of the big joys of the year was Michael turning five. Five, while sometimes a real challenge, has been amazing. The little boy who clinged to me at preschool drop off everyday has transformed into a big boy who loves kindergarten and grins like mad when he climbs off the bus. At the beginning of the year he still refused to leave his bed without someone in the room with him. Now, we wake up on weekend mornings and find him playing quietly in the living room already dressed for the day. And, while he's taken to killing zombies in ipad apps, he still wants me to talk for his stuffed animals while he shows them how to play. He has gotten sweeter, and funnier, and more compassionate. Five has been awesome.
There were other joys throughout the year. On a personal level, my career really took off. I did some of my best work and received a lot of recognition for it. I'm very proud of the work I did, of the people I work with and for, and I'm grateful that I get to go into a job I love everyday.
In other personal achievements, 2011 was a year of significant growth for me. I've struggled hard with balancing being a wife, a mom, an employee and simply being myself. I always want to put everyone first, but by failing to set personal boundaries, I was never happy with any kind of balance I tried for. This year really pushed the need to start setting boundaries and I feel I made good progress. Andy really helped me to do this by supporting my decisions and reminding me to take care of myself when he saw me faltering. I would never have made so much progress without his support. He did this, even while he was picking up the slack for me while I was helping my mom. It's great to know that someone you love has your back.
There were also some wonderful experiences. I will never forget the joy on both Michael and Andy's faces as Michael got to battle Darth Vader on our trip to Disney World. Or how freaking awesome it felt to run the MS Mud Run with Andy. I've never enjoyed being tired and beat up so much in my life. We also had trips to the beach, quiet mornings spent snuggled together on the sofa, and endless stuffed animal fights that left all of us giggling. They were the sweet to all of the bitter and they are all moments I will cherish.
2011, you were really hard. You striped my soul bare, but you gave it room for amazing growth. You dealt blow after blow, but in between were moments of solace and joy. You put up roadblocks, but the detours lead me on paths I might otherwise have passed by. 2011, you were a journey that ultimately took me further than I ever expected. I'm wiser and stronger for all of it.
But 2011, you can still suck it.