I love the festive/reflective season for the space it affords me to slow down, breathe, enjoy gratitude for the year gone past… and maybe write a word or two.

The past year saw me starting to journal (a practice almost forced upon me by my husband, in his now-forsaken diary). It’s been surprisingly helpful to look back at those entries and remember the journey, the emotional challenges peppered through the year, what I’ve been through and how I’ve come to be today.

I had written that I had an impactful realisation in 2017 that “I needed to take a serious look at how I was driving myself forward all the time with a deep fear of insufficiency. I suddenly realised that no matter where I was, I was my harshest, loudest critic.”

Shaped by isolating times and trauma, I didn’t necessarily know how to “be more normal, forgiving and relaxed”. Survival was this big, important, all-defining necessity.

I am grateful for the opportunities I had in 2018 to grow in self-care and compassion, which was very helpful as I took on a more challenging job. I’ve loved the scope of the job and its breadth of challenges. Amidst that, I made a self-care plan and schedule which helped me find inner balance and control. I had the opportunity to work with coaches that helped me rebuild a sense of identity and confidence amidst an ongoing “lostness” in the sea of life changes, and I do have a lot of progress to celebrate.

I think that even though becoming a stepmum came with many emotional & “parental” challenges, I have drawn a lot out of my relationship with Hayden — one that I’m blessed continues to grow. I read the other day that “playing with children” is one way to recover from trauma. That has been true for me. Children bring a lot of curiosity, fun and richness to life. Hayden is now growing up and I miss his younger days (when he couldn’t yet read and write!), and the time we spent bonding/playing. I made so much time and energy for him back then and cannot be more thankful that I seized those opportunities. Some windows of opportunity close quickly…

Now I am pregnant with a baby boy, and my world is yet again about to change.

I never knew pregnancy could be such a “big” and overwhelming experience. It is. It made me contemplate my life, my upbringing  — the completely different future my son is going to have compared to my past… to the added layer of complexity new children bring to our family structure. How is my son going to understand “family”?

Many of these aspects are loaded with emotion, uncertainty and a degree of anxiety. I am already practically a mum, but it is emotional to think that now I’m going to find out what it really is like to be a “real mum”. How strange it is that I’m preparing for my first pregnancy, but also reading books like Coping with Two.

Having been through the exhausting rigmarole of raising a baby, my husband said he only wanted one more child when we got married. But he’s started talking differently these days. It made me cry when he said, “my love for you and my heart for you can just see you thriving in having a large family”. It’s funny how life can change.

Chris and Hayden make a lot of intentional effort to show me appreciation and love anyway, and I am very blessed to have that.

I have no doubt parenting will be a rewarding journey and we will find our way forward, but at the same time I cannot help but feel so much about what every family member might be going through in a blended family…

…and the place I arrive at is that life can bring heartbreak and disappointment. Some feel it more than others, but everyone needs to face them, and how you react and process them can determine how your Self and future outlook are shaped…