Welcome to my annual recap on the year that has passed. I pick out the highs and lows from the last 12 months and then end with my 2021 reflections. It has been a particularly difficult year for us as a family so I am pleased to now be moving into a new, hopefully more positive year!
The year did not get off to a great start for us or anyone as we were in lockdown. January is known to be a difficult month, especially for those with depression, so add to that the restrictions of lockdown and it was bound to be hard. My oldest daughter Lauren turned 23 but all that I could do to celebrate was to bake a birthday cake.
February was another lockdown month. Valentines was a Chinese takeaway at home and Elliot turned 13 but was unable to have the big celebration that we had been planning. I received my first COVID jab that offered some hope that we may see an end to the strange times that we have all been living.
The third month of lockdown for us in England! These early months of the year were very difficult but we did our best to stay as positive as possible. We celebrated Mothers Day in the UK but it was of course much quieter than normal but I did receive some lovely gifts from the children. We also decided to start work on our garden that we had not touched since moving into the property a good eight years previously.
Easter was at the start of April and it was our second in lockdown. So yet again, there was no big family celebration. Luckily, the lockdown ended just in time for Lauren and James to get married! After so much isolation and dark times, the wedding was just what we needed to lift our spirits and it was an honour to welcome James into the family. Although it wasn’t the wedding we had initially planned as we were all still under restrictions, it was such a lovely day. The smile on Lauren’s face made my heart swell so large, I thought it would burst with love and pride.
At the start of May, we went on a little Monday to Friday holiday at a caravan park on Mersey Island. I had booked it last summer not expecting us to still be under restrictions at this time! It was a lovely holiday park though, right by the sea. It was such a nice relaxing time away and time that we all really needed. At the end of May, it was Chloe’s 22nd birthday. We did a BBQ to celebrate. I also had my second COVID jab so was as protected as possible.
June was a difficult month. Problems in our 25-year relationship resulted in a trial separation. However, after just five days apart, we decided that we couldn’t imagine life without one another. Marriage needs to be worked on to keep it going as long as we have been together so we both realised that we needed to put more work in if we wanted to make it work.
We continued to strengthen our marriage and things started to get better for us. However, I became really unwell and had to miss a family trip to Chessington that we had planned and attending Friendsfest which was a mothers day present from Chloe in 2020.
I had all of the symptoms of someone with COVID who has been fully jabbed and I felt terrible but my lateral flow test said that I did not have it. Whatever it was kept me in bed for ten days and still struggling for a further week after that. Darren also had problems but his were dental. He needed two types of antibiotics and a week off work when one side of his face swelled up!
August was a happy month for us all. It was Keaton’s 2nd birthday so Chloe did him a birthday party at ours and I made the cake. We did the party the day before his birthday so that we could take him out on his actual birthday. We went to Old Macdonald’s farm but as it was pouring with rain they offered for us to come back another day instead which I thought was very kind of them. So instead, we went to soft play and out for a meal.
It was also our dogs special shared birthday day in August so we totally spoiled them and even did a little tea party with a cake and my sister brought her dog along too.
Lauren won tickets to Thorpe park so we got to go along for free which was nice although Darren was sick for most of the day! I finally got to attend Friendsfest as the company kindly let us attend the Milton Keynes one instead of the London one that we should have gone to in July.
I also took Elliot to London for the day and we watched a musical and visited a Japanese garden which was so much fun. We ended the month with that trip to Old McDonald’s farm and the weather was lovely so we were glad we decided to come back when we did.
This month we got rid of our Sky TV subscription and signed up for Cineworld unlimited cards instead. We had been paying over £50 a month and rarely watched anything on it. Now we pay £32 a month on our cinema cards so are still saving money and we get to go out at least once a week and see a movie.
Elliot started year nine in home school which is crazy! This is also the month that Elliot came out as trans. It was a shock but I love them regardless and I am happy that they now get to be themselves. I also got to see John Courtney perform with Lauren which was lovely.
Yet again we were all ill! First of all, Elliot started being sick, quickly followed by me and Lauren. Then the day after I had recovered, Darren came down with hand, foot and mouth disease which he got from Keaton who picked it up at nursery. My brother and nephew also tested positive for COVID so there must have been so many bugs going around.
October is my birthday month so I did have a nice birthday but it was rather spread out as we had all been so ill. We got to throw our Halloween party this year which was nice. It is always so much fun as I get all of the adults playing games and dressing up.
This is the month that I found out that I have breast cancer. A difficult month for sure, but as a parent, we do not have the opportunity to fall apart. I need to be strong for my kids. Not much else happened this month as it was all a bit of a blur.
Finally the last month of the year. December 8th I had my surgery to remove the cancer and some lymph nodes. It was then a waiting game until December 23rd when we got the results of the operation. Not the news we were hoping for. The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and surrounding breast tissue so another operation has been booked in. Not what we wanted to hear two days before Christmas.
Unsurprisingly, this was the most unorganised Christmas we have ever had and probably the least festive too. However, we did still have a nice quiet day with all the kids and their partners and our grandson and dogs.
So, where do I start with these 2021 reflections? I think that it is safe to say that 2021 has not been our best year! COVID does not look like it is going anywhere soon. Many have now had booster shots but I have not been able to have mine yet. The first one that I had booked had to be cancelled so I could have my operation. Then I booked a second but that then had to be cancelled as I have a second operation booked in! Hoping to get it quickly sorted after this operation in case I have to have any more surgeries.
Finding the good in the bad
Despite the bad things that happened, there was still lots of good little bits that happened too. Throughout the year I always write good things on bits of paper and put them into a jar. Then every new years day while we have dinner, we take turns picking a paper from the jar and reading it out loud. Then we all reminisce about what has been read out. It is a lovely way to start the new year, highlighting all of the good things that you have experienced together over the last year. Although there were notably fewer papers than normal years, there were still a good amount of highlights to think about and give thanks to.
As a family, we seem to have been unwell a lot the last two years. I am hoping that this trend does not continue in 2022! I am determined to stay as positive as possible and tell the universe daily that I want to be here and I want to be healthy. I will do whatever it takes to beat this cancer.
This year, I have learned that I am stronger than I think. When faced with the hardest news that I have personally ever had to face, I have kept it together. I have learned to not care what other people think and have enjoyed sporting my hair disasters as they give me something fun to talk about with people!
Some people have surprised me with how kind and thoughtful they have been and others have surprised me with how uncaring they have been! Still, I try to remind myself that we do not know how people feel inside and there may be more going on for those people than I realise. I also remind myself that compared to some I am still very privileged so should be grateful for all that I have.
My goals for the upcoming year are;
- Beat this cancer and end the year cancer free!!
- Get to our favourite hotel in Salou Spain, for our June holiday we have booked (COVID had better not try stopping me!)
- Find the positives in every day and every situation (they are always there if you look hard enough).
- Keep pushing myself to get out of my comfort zone and do the things that make me happy like making new friends and dying my hair bright colours. As when all is said and done, life really is too short to keep doubting yourself.