2019 : the year where the highs and lows never stopped
What can I say about 2019 other than it was a year absolutely packed full of highs and lows?
2019 started off in A&E, after Emily stood up from sitting on the floor forgetting her foot was under the couch. It happened on New Years’ Eve, but there was no way I was going to take her down there then*. Our local children’s A&E closes at 10pm, and I didn’t fancy sitting in the adult’s one on the booziest night of the year.
So New Years’ Day was spent in A&E, they confirmed she’d broken a bone across the top of her foot, and we went home with a set of crutches and a rather fetching moon boot.
That was my first clue that 2019 was going to be another year of highs and lows.
*Don’t worry, she wasn’t in any pain.
Highs and lows of January – April
The girls started a new school in January, and straight away were happier than they had been for years, and had an army of new friends within the first week. Deciding to change your child’s school is always a difficult decision, but even more so when one child is seriously unhappy at the current school and the other is happy.
I was very apprehensive that I was making a wrong decision, but thankfully I haven’t. And both girls are now happy as can be.
At the start of February, my Mum, Sister and I travelled to Birmingham to meet Theo Paphitis. Mum and I had won a Small Business Sunday award (#SBS) for our children’s cooking club – The Budding Chef’s Club. And my sister had won one for her small business – La Vita Bella Mobile Beauty.
This was definitely a high point of the whole year. Theo is a top bloke – very inspirational and incredibly passionate about supporting small businesses in the UK. You can read more about the #SBS award here.
In March, my first baby hit 18 and became a fully fledged legal adult. I found this hugely bittersweet. On the one hand I’m super proud of the young man he has become and I’m excited for where his life is going to take him. But on the other hand, I’m like “where did his childhood go?”. Which is weird considering I spent a lot of his childhood thinking it would never end.
He’s now the age I was when I had him, so from his next birthday, I will have been a parent for more than 50% of my lifetime. And that feels huge.
During this time I was hit with a big low. I finally went to see my GP about a lump on the back of my tongue. I was referred under the two week wait scheme and seen really quickly by a maxillofacial surgeon. Not long after this, I had surgery to remove the lump and a small area around it, and 9 biopsies taken from inside my mouth and throat. When I went back for the results, I was told it had been cancer, but the prompt treatment I had received meant I didn’t need any further treatment.
Utterly amazing, because I had been absolutely shitting myself. I lost my best friend to cancer only 3 months before this so obviously this was a massive worry.
I didn’t even know mouth cancer was an actual thing, but you can read more about the symptoms and how to self check here.
My Nonna (Italian Grandmother) also received a cancer diagnosis around this time. Hers is in her bladder though and more difficult to treat. She’d been suffering for a while with no discernible cause, so whilst it was a relief to find out what was wrong and that it could be treated surgically, it was also worrying because she’s 83 and not in the best health.
Again, you can find out more about bladder cancer here.
Highs and lows of May – August
The highs and lows of this period included;
My eldest daughter turning 17 and suddenly growing up. She had a major personality shift that came out of nowhere and suddenly became really pleasant to be around. I’m still not sure who is more surprised by that. Her or me. But it’s definitely made this year easier. Not having to expand so many energy on arguing with her, or repeating myself over and over only for her to ignore me, has been like going on holiday.
May was a rough month because my sister underwent some major surgery to her hip. It’s horrendous seeing someone you love so much in terrible pain. Especially when you can’t do anything about it. We had some laughs though. She thought I was hallucinating when I said I thought I’d seen Ruby appear in the bottom right of the screen on a Program we were watching on TV. But when she rewound it and she saw it for herself, the scream she did will make me chuckle until the day I die.
This was also the period where I discovered that parenting 5 children aged between 5 & 12 is a fucking nightmare.
If you don’t believe me, read this and then tell me what you think.
Ruby Ruby Ruby Ruby! Na na na na na na!
In June, Ruby turned 8 and I felt the meanest I ever have done as her parent. Because my Nonna had had some surgery on her bladder a few days before, and my sister was in agony still after her surgery, we didn’t have the usual family party. Or a party with her friends either. She’ll probably never forgive me for this because she likes to remind me every few days or so. Even now, 6 months later.
We did go to London for the day though to meet up with her Dad. And she got her first iPhone, so it wasn’t as bad as she makes out.
Goodbye Budding Chefs
In July, Mum and I hung up our aprons for the last time as we officially closed our children’s cooking club. We are still absolutely devastated that we had to close it and miss the children so much. A combination of our own ongoing health problems, supporting family members through their health problems and me being a single parent just made it too hard to keep going.
We desperately wanted to expand into our own premises, but we couldn’t find any commercial landlord that would be happy to have children cooking on the premises. It was such a shame. We spent a good 6 months looking for somewhere but were constantly knocked back. Carting all the equipment to and fro the church hall we had hired every session was too much for us. Having our own place would have solved a big problem.
Although, working weekends as a single parent was very difficult.
Lavender fields and poppy fields
Every year Mum and I always forget to go to the lavender fields until it’s too late. This year we not only made it to see the lavender, but we found a field full of poppies really close to where we live. We visited Lordington Lavender whilst the kids were at school. It was beautiful. And smelt divine. We visited the poppy field late on a Friday evening, and watched the sunset over the field. It was glorious.
At some point in the months before all this, we had a major flood in our house. Someone left the rap running in the bathroom and it flooded. It also came through the kitchen ceiling and destroyed the kitchen.
Thanks to the insurance company, the children and I were put up in an AirBnB for 3 weeks. This was so the builders could rip out floors, ceilings and floorboards without small people running about.
Our AirBnB was a beautiful large house set pretty much on a beach with its own access to it.
We were blessed with the weather, enjoying the hottest heatwave for years whilst we were there. This meant we spent LOADS of time on the beach and had a wonderful little holiday. We made some amazing memories and literally had the best ever time.
I would highly recommend staying here if you’re ever in the area.
You can see where we stayed here.
It seems like so long ago now, but the summer holidays were without a doubt a highlight of our year.
We had glorious sunshine for quite a lot of it. Which meant we had many many happy days down the beach. With friends or family or just on our own. We swam in the sea daily, had millions of picnics and had so much fun. We visited outdoor swimming pools, we ate ice creams in the sea and we played catch with Ruby in the water.
For the first time ever, I didn’t want the kids to go back to school. Getting back into a routine seemed so boring compared to the carefree existence we had been enjoying.
Highs and lows of September – December
September was tough. The girls didn’t want to go back to school and I didn’t want to get back into a routine after having had such a lovely summer.
Emily had her tonsils and adenoids out and had to have 2 weeks off school to recover. She was very happy to learn that she could eat ice cream all day every day if she wanted to.
Those 2 weeks were horrible because she was in so much pain.
We celebrated the end of her quarantine with a trip to Brighton to the Artbox cafe. Emily loves cats, particularly Pusheen and is a massive fan of ice cream. So combining the two was just the perfect outing for her.
I decided to start a blog in September, and I’m glad I did because it’s like a virtual scrapbook of our lives.
We decided to put ourselves on a mission to try out as many new things as we could. Although, not long after, Emily somehow managed to break a bone in her wrist doing cartwheels. She apparently stood on her own hand, which still makes my brain hurt trying to understand how.
She got a bright blue cast that perfectly matched her uniform. So she was happy.
We discovered some amazing things going on in our local area .
We’ve been for long walks in a forest, we’ve stomped our way through muddy puddles. We’ve built our own bivouac. We have climbed trees and made friends with animals. We visited a pick your own pumpkin patch and found loads of varieties of pumpkins. The girls got to use wheelbarrows for the first time in their lives and loved them. We’ve been to farms, nature parks, ice rinks and an upside down house. I took the girls trick or treating and helped them eat their sweets. We have been indoor rock climbing, swimming, horse riding, go karting and had a fight with a stranger. We’ve got lost and then found our way again. Some of us got to stroke, cuddle and hand feed a highland cow. We have had sleepovers, spent time with our besties and gone on adventures together.
These things were absolute bliss.
And now for the lows
I bet you thought we were ending 2919 on a high.
We have had curveballs thrown at us left right and centre. My Mum fell down the stairs and fractured her spine . This means she has to wear a supportive cast/back brace pretty much all day. This has had a massive impact on my Mum’s life, stopping her from doing pretty much everything she loves. Including washing her hair. My Mum is an absolute fucking rockstar. Whereas I would have gone nuts by now, she’s being an utter warrior and not giving up. How someone can look so glam in a neck – hip brace I don’t know. But she’s pulling it off regardless!
We are very lucky that her injury wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
Nonna’s cancer has returned, and she has just had surgery again to remove it. Fingers crossed it doesn’t come back again this time. She’s been an absolute trooper through it all.
My oven blew up making it totally useless. There’s only so many things you can cook on a Hob before children start complaining that they want something from the oven. Having to say no to making lasagna every day is starting to piss me off though.
The highs and lows of 2019 were pretty much even up until Christmas Day evening…
My own personal low point was getting absolutely smashed on Christmas Day. It’s 5 days later now and I’m not sure if I’ve completely recovered yet or not. I’m too old for this drinking malarkey. I don’t know how other people do it. But I suppose they don’t replace all the liquid in their bodies with gin. Mother’s ruin indeed.
As you can see, there have been many highs and lows of 2019. There were a lot more lows than I’ve gone into here. My mental health took a battering this year and I really don’t want to relive it.
We made loads of memories, tried out lots of new things and struggled our way through another year of challenges and set backs. But most importantly : we’ve survived to tell the tale.
We’re going to be ending 2019 with a takeaway from our favourite Indian, and a small glass of Champagne (for me anyway).
2020 is going to be our year. We’ve got lots of exciting things planned and happening. Jess is turning 18, my sister’s having a baby and my brother is getting married.
The girls and I are going to start the New Year off by going for an outdoor swim on New Years’ Day. And the only resolution we have set is to have as much fun as possible.
2020 is going to tip the balance of highs and lows firmly into the high category.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me this year, in person or online.
Hope you all have a wonderful New Years’ Eve, whatever you’ve got planned, and I’ll be back in 2020.