The 2010s decade is over. I can’t be the only one that failed to realise we were coming to the end of a decade until around October last year? Since this century got underway I haven’t felt like the decades have been properly categorised like the 80s and 90s. Have we even settled on what we are calling them yet? The noughties and teens? Two thousands and twenty tens? A quick google suggests a few names for the decade just gone. I feel like things will feel right again now we are in the 20s …
Whatever its name, the last decade was significant for me. I suspect it will go down as the most significant one in my life. The one that I started as a fiancee, became a wife, a mother twice over and ended as a widow. The best of times and the worst of times. From a heart that was so filled of love that it might burst to a heart completely broken. It’s still hard for me to get my head around it all. It has been hard entering into another new year and a new decade without him. A decade where our kids will turn into teenagers and the older one will be able to vote. A decade he won’t see.
I’ve actually pretty much enjoyed raiding the memory banks to do a year by year write up. And I raided Facebook for photos (its good for some things!) instead of sifting through my thousands of snaps…
The 2010s started out pretty well. Andy & I got married in October 2010 so a lot of the year was wedding focused along with hen and stag parties. We went on a health kick and joined a gym. We went to the Isle of Wight music festival. I had an amazing year at work and enjoyed new projects.
After our wedding we honeymoon in the Cook Islands and San Francisco, a real once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Sadly, we lost my dear Granny Ella in May then my dad died suddenly in November. That was very much a shock. The last time I saw him was on my wedding day. Christmas was super hard that year but we found out we were expecting Seren at the end of December so the year ended optimistically. We saw in 2011 in a low key and sober fashion.
Another year which was focussed on preparation as we got ready to become parents. This also involved buying a house and selling our two flats in a very slow housing market. Morning sickness floored me and lasted until around the four month mark. Which was a shame as I booked to join Andy on a work trip to New York at the three month point. I was sick in the airport, on the plane, in the hotel room, on street corners. I spent most of my time in bed watched US daytime TV.
By subsequent holidays, I felt much better. We went to Italy, the Isle of Wight festival again, York and Cornwall.
We moved into our house at the end of July and spent the next two months nesting, cleaning, painting and trying to make it as ‘ours’ as soon as possible .
Our autumn equinox baby came into the world towards the end of September – 11 days late. The birth – like lots of them – was a bewildering experience and a couple of years I would blog about it (starting here, it’s a three parter).
Life as a first time new mum continued to be bewildering for the first few months. Feeding woes, sleep deprivation (mild compared to with her sister), hormones and the huge adjustment to a new life all took their toll. I also became estranged from my own mother, a situation which had been building up for some time but became final when Seren was four days old. We were lucky with visitors to meet the new baby but when they petered out I realised how lonely new motherhood could be. We had done the NCT classes but our group didn’t gel and the meet ups soon faltered.
I threw myself into hosting Christmas for the first time in our new house, with our new baby and it was lovely.
2012 was a year of two halves. The first half I was finding my feet more on maternity leave. No longer terrified to leave the house, I got out most days to groups and classes and started to enjoy it. The early feeling of loneliness faded as Seren & I made a ton of new friends. It’s funny to thing that some of these baby friends are her school classmates now.
We holidayed for the first time as a family of three at Center Parcs (it was a good week but I don’t think I’m a CP person). Then we had a gorgeous weekend Salcombe, Devon for a wedding.
Our garden had work done, with new paving and a lawn laid, suitable for a toddler to run around on.
In June, around the time of the Queen’s Jubilee, I went back to work. On my very first day back I got a call from the nursery to say that Seren seemed to the hand, foot and mouth virus. Andy took the hit that day but talk about starting as things would go on – the juggle and guilt of working and parenting small ones and being away from them when they are ill.
That summer also saw the London 2012 Olympics and I remember there being so much lovely weather. I started blogging! The original incarnation of this blog was as a baby / parenting blog called Little Star & Me (Seren means star in Welsh). It was pretty low key (not much has changed there….) and I wrote about things like her first tooth, first words, baby classes and days out.
We saw in 2013 with friends in east London and I wrote this post with a quick sum up of the year – Happy 2013! Thank you and goodbye 2012.
2013 started in much the same as how 2012 ended – toddler groups, juggling work etc. We had some work done to the house with new floors and radiators. We went away to Cornwall and I came back pregnant, though that wasn’t meant to be, as I had a very early miscarriage / chemical pregnancy. In hospital they told me to wait a cycle before trying to conceive again so that a new pregnancy could be properly dated. I decided not to listen to them and conceived Imogen a week or so later.
There was no way I was going to succumb to morning sickness that time, so I thought. More fool me because it came back with stronger and I was more sick and for longer. It had mostly gone by Christmas (I remember this being the first year that Seren was excited about Christmas) and we hosted a gathering at New Year.
I wrote a 2014 Plans blog post and it’s funny reading it back and seeing me describe myself as a “glass half empty” person. Somewhere along the line, despite everything that has happened, I’d describe myself as the opposite now. And thank heavens for that because I don’t know how I would’ve coped otherwise.
I finished up for Maternity Leave round two in March 2014 (and, in the end, never went back). We decorated both the girls’ rooms. I enjoyed hanging out with S, in her last weeks as an only child. Imogen arrived in mid May, only six days later this time and with a much easier birth. To make up for that we returned to hospital with her when she was 5 days old. She had picked up an infection. We had a fraught 48 hours with her on various drips, a feeding tube and having blood taken to test every few hours. Before long she bounced back though and we could go home.
Andy turned 40 and somehow amongst the craziness of having a new baby, we had a birthday BBQ. The week after we went to Norfolk for 4 nights and fell in love with the place. The four of us would return three more times. Then we would scatter his ashes in the sea on Brancaster beach in 2019.
We also went to Peppa Pig World for Seren’s third birth. I blogged about my pregnancy, the girls developing as sisters and did a bit of branded work, here’s when we visited Surrey Docks Farm with Huggies.
We saw the New Year in with friends in Reigate. Typically, Imogen (never a great sleeper, even now) was up again to watch the fireworks at midnight.
2015 then 2016 mesh a lot together in a blur. A blur of baby, toddler, preschool groups, outings and a sea of toys everywhere. Constantly juggling issues, illnesses and worrying over whether the child in question was reaching certain milestones at the right time. An ocean of coffee was drunk. I decided in 2015 not to return to work. The plan was to have maybe another year on a break and focus on the kids. I did a bit of blogging work with brands in return for gifted products or experiences or even a bit of cash. But, the driver was always to give me a bit of creative time and do something for myself.
I am over the moon now that I have all those stories to look back on. At the beginning of 2015 I changed my blog name to The Mama Story. As now I had two children and didn’t want the blog to centre around one of them. I joined the Living Arrows blog link up and shared photos of the girls nearly every week for two years. I also wrote a blog post that received a lot of love locally – 50 Things To Do In Enfield Before You Are Five.
We also gained a niece that year, went on holiday again to Norfolk and Seren started in the nursery class at a local primary school (and so began years and years – I’m now in my fifth – of school runs).
We saw New Year with friends in East London before I drove us home.
2015 flowed into 2016. We gained a nephew, holidayed in Norfolk and had our turn of Chicken Pox. Seren started Reception and Imogen started attending playgroups four mornings a week. I seemed to spend a lot of time taking and collecting the girls from different places at different times.
I went to the blogging conference Blogtacular for the first time and had an awe inspiring time. I wrote about the photo walk we did in Notting Hill here. Seren and I took part in a video shoot for Aldi’s school uniform range and spent a fun day filming at a primary school in south London (you can just about glimpse her 40 seconds in in the video). We were paid in Aldi vouchers and it set off a love of Aldi for me!
At the end of the year I wrote a 2016 review post here. We saw New Year in with friends in Enfield (though strictly speaking we were home from the party before 10pm).
2017 was a big one – I turned 40! My birthday fell in half-term and we escaped to Yorkshire for 4 nights then I had a party the following week and a few other celebrations too.
My main present was a bathroom refurb, the first work we had done on the house for a while. I still love it though it could do with a lick of paint now.
In the summer we went to Norfolk again then Imogen joined Seren at school in the nursery class. It felt amazing having both kids in the same place, albeit at different times.
I switched my blog focus away from parenting stuff and onto happiness finding.
I blogged a list of 20 places I wanted to visit in 2017. We did not tick off everywhere on this list but three years on we have done most of them. We still need to visit Victoria Park in East London, the Serpentine Lido and the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.
I wrote a 2017 round up post here. We hosted a gathering for New Year that finished (intentionally) around 9pm. Then we got the kids to bed and fell asleep (me) on the sofa watching Graham Norton. It would be our last one together.
There were three big things that were supposed to happen in 2018. I had a holiday with friends to Barbados to look forward to. Imogen would start school which would allow me to go and get a job. Life was going to change in a good, progressive way.
The first two things did happen. But they weren’t the things that defined 2018. On the morning of the 31st May, Andy died suddenly and unexpectedly from a cardiac arrest. A wrote a few posts about that time, in the absolute, painful, suffocating fog of grief – The First Two Weeks, A Day In The Life and Nine Weeks.
I also blogged about our last family holiday together in the Lake District which holds such precious memories. In the summer the girls and I ran away to spend time with friends and family and escape our new reality.
At the start of 2018 I had written a list of goals for the year. I remember finding it hard to write because I struggled to articulate what I wanted to do. I met none of the goals. At least not in the way I intended. At the bottom of the post I talk about my word for the year which was “self-belief”. I smile at that now because, my goodness, did I need it to get me through.
We ran away again at the end of the year and saw in New Year in Bath and then went onto Cornwall.
The last year of the 2010s. I’ve just done a whole blog post about 2019 so I won’t repeat it all. We started to figure out how we can live our lives again in a meaningful way.
I had therapy and sought out things that soothed my mind, soul and body. We spent time with others in our situation, primarily through the workshops of the wonderful Grief Encounter charity. All three of us gain strength from connecting with those who have walked a similar path to us.
We holidayed a lot – Disneyland Paris, Norfolk, the Lake District, Croatia, Amsterdam, Devon & Cornwall. Plus camping in Hertfordshire and Mersea Island.
I did not blog much, clocking up seven posts. I’m sad about this because I feel like I have so much to say! I feel better for doing so too. I wrote about our Norfolk trip and scattering Andy’s ashes whilst we were there.
We escaped again for New Year and saw 2020 in with friends in Seaton, Devon.
Goodbye teens. I don’t think I will ever have another decade with such dramatic highs and lows. Hello, twenties. We are ready for you.