And so here we are, suddenly, at the end of another year. Traditionally the time to reflect on what has been, and start fresh with new ambitions, hopes and dreams for the 12months ahead.
My year began on a sad note, with my grandad passing away after a long struggle against dementia. Despite him being gone from us for a lot longer in reality, I miss him very much and find myself thinking about him a lot this past few days. I think he would have immensely enjoyed seeing my son grow from baby to little boy this year.
The first quarter of the year was tough for a number of reasons, and went by in a haze of sleepless nights and a few too many tears. Spring was a recovery period in one sense but found us the victim of numerous illnesses as my son bought one thing after another home from his first term at nursery. My favourite was the noro virus which we managed to bring back to the UK with us and systematically wipe out half the family a week before my sisters wedding. Fortunately we were all better, if a bit thinner, by the big day.
The summer, despite living out of a suitcase for most of it, was the highlight of this year. We had the most amazing time and it really helped to show us what was important in life. We came back from the trip knowing who we were as a family, what we wanted for ourselves, and with a clear vision of how life should progress. Returning to Dubai again in september was tough and it has been hard to accept that we are still not leaving any time soon. But having resolved to make the most of our beautiful autumn weather, I really feel like we did this year. The weeks leading up to now have been a total joy and really such a lot of fun that in actual fact it was hard to drag ourselves away.
Somewhere around the middle of this year I began writing this blog in a bid to release some of the negativity and loneliness I felt around living as an expat, trailing spouse and mother of one. And as I sit on a sofa somewhere north of Boston listening to the chatter of my family all around, I realise the huge emotional and spiritual journey that I feel I began this year will no doubt continue into the next.
2012 holds much promise for me. I feel that I have begun to make peace with myself in a way that I have struggled to up until now. My role as a mother no longer seems to bind me and terrify me in equal parts, but instead I find myself enjoying it and savouring all the special moments that seemed to evade me for so long. And so this forms resolution no.1 on my list, to continue to grow as a parent and be the best mother I can be, without totally stressing myself out about it in the process.
I also feel our summer hiatus from Dubai, and the inevitable but reluctant return have left a deeper mark than usual on me this year. I know now where we are headed, and with an end game in mind I am better able to accept where we are now, and look toward the future with an optimistic and open mind, all the while acknowledging that the here and now is just as important and worthwhile. So to my resolution no. 2: to enjoy the moment, to make the most of where we are, where we live and our lives as they stand. To plan for the future without wishing away the present. To make the most of our time in Dubai because life will not always be this way. To look forward to the future without missing it so much.
I have lost a lot of friends in Dubai this year, from those moving away to those who dropped off the face of the earth, to those who are no longer around because of sad or exceptional circumstances. I’m not sure I will ever truly accept the nature of expat friendship, in that vein of here one day, gone the next- but I am trying my best to appreciate it really is nothing personal and is simply the nature of the beast. So to resolution no.3: to make friendships where they present themselves, to accept the demise of others, cherish the ones that last, and to pick up the phone to home, to someone I trust with my heart and soul, when it all gets too much.
There have been many moments this year I am not proud of. I have struggled to figure out why they came so thick and fast, and why I seem to lack the self control of others when it comes to expressing myself appropriately to my nearest and dearest. But my resolution no.4 is not to dull these feelings and pretend they are not there, rather to find a better way to show them, and to take advice and help when it is offered instead of brushing it away like an unwanted fluff bunny.
Resolution no.5: get tennis lessons. No deeper meaning to that, I just think given some lessons I’d be pretty good at it.
I have other aspirations for myself for the coming year but find them clashing dangerously with my ‘list of things to do before I’m 40’ and given I have a few more years to achieve them I don’t feel I have to commit to them right now. I also have a ‘list of things to do before we leave Dubai’ formulating, which I am keeping separately from either my 2012 resolutions or my 40 list in the vain hope it falls somewhere between the two to accomplish.
So really I guess my 2012 hopes and dreams boil down to a simple wish: to have fun and relax, be good to my family, kind to myself, and when all else fails go out and hit a few balls. Happy new year to you all.