So, this is Christmas. What have you done? As 2019 comes to a close, it’s natural to look back on the months gone by – what has been achieved, what has been gained, what has been lost or what’s even stayed the same. We all do it – don’t we? Even the festive tunes encourage us all to be a little reflective.  

2019 has been a big year to say the very least. I knew that, after a troublesome 2018, I wanted to get more out of this year in all areas of my life. I set myself some pretty strict New Year’s Resolutions. Most of them I have worked hard to develop or achieve. Not all though, I am not Wonder Woman!

Here’s a look back at each area of life and how the last 365 days have impacted on that.

Jobs

This year kicked off with the unexpected news of redundancy from the place where I had worked since leaving London when my marriage ended. It was a Monday morning which changed my life. That change was for the better in the end – although it didn’t feel that way when I worried about how I would pay the next month’s rent.

I was incredibly fortunate to find another great job which I started only three weeks later – on my 36th birthday. But, life and the circumstances around it meant I moved on again to my current role in the PR team for The Brain Tumour Charity. When I lived in London, I spent nearly a decade working in charity communications. So, it’s great to be back in-house for an organisation which I feel passionate about.

That red light of redundancy ended up being the green light to send me back to where I belong and I am excited about where this new job role could take me.

Dating and relationships

This time last year, I was struggling with being single. It was hard to celebrate the festive season when I was feeling like a bit of a failure. So, I decided to stop thinking about it all so much and I deleted the dating apps on NYE. It was a great decision. As 2019 began, I dated a couple of people who I met in a more organic nature. One was a bit naughty and one was pretty nice … but they both led me to the same conclusion … that I didn’t really want to be dating.

As the summer ended, I was feeling ace about being single. I was standing on my own two feet, putting the past clearly where it belonged, getting closure on a couple of heartbreakers and feeling positive about what may lie ahead. That was even in the face of my impending divorce.

Ok … I reinstalled Tinder just to do a little bit of window shopping. Guess what happened.

They say that you find stuff when you stop looking. A Saturday night swiping session whilst TJ slept in the next room was the start of an interesting new story. I am now seeing probably one of the nicest men out there (my dad and TJ aside). Ridiculous things in common, a similar sense of humour and a shared passion for terrible (amazing) films. Kindness, honesty, conversation and compassion come in equal measure. Plus, a seriously handsome face. Yes, it’s exciting times.

Mum life

Bloody hell, it’s been quite the year in every aspect of parenting. My little buddy is no longer a toddler but becoming a rather fabulous little boy. That comes with its fair share of tantrums and tears, of course. It’s not all plain sailing. But, my notebook on cute and comedic things which TJ has said this year is bursting. I am sleep deprived pretty much all of the time because he insists on sleeping in my bed and holding onto a chunk of my hair as a comforter. There was that one occasion when TJ did a poo in the bath and then handed it to me … mum life at its finest. But, looking back, there are plenty of smiles and bags of love alongside the reasonably regular irrational moments which come as part of the package with little people. So, that’s OK.

My biggest achievement of the year when it comes to parenting was taking TJ on holiday just the two of us. Mums and dads overcome feats of every size every day to raise their kids. But, giving TJ a summer holiday was an important one for me to achieve on my own – and it happened. Plus, it was seriously huge amounts of fun for us both – read all about it here.

TJ

Next year will be a big year for my little man – he will start school. With the application in, we will wait with baited breath to find out in April if he gets a place at our preferred choice of infant school. I know he will love it – his confidence, intrigue, intelligence and maturity are primed for the playground and the classroom. He will thrive – and I can’t wait to see it.

This big change in TJ’s life will also mean a change to the co-parenting arrangement. TJ’s dad and I have worked hard to come up with a routine which will, amazingly, mean that we will both see him almost every day. Admittedly, that could be just to do one part of the school run. But, it’s better than the chunks of time we currently spend apart. That can’t come soon enough for everyone concerned. Any co-parent will (probably) tell you that the hardest part is when their child is with the other parent for a short or a prolonged period of time. The start of school will, of course, mean the loss of my two week days when me and TJ do whatever takes our fancy together – that will be tough. But, I look forward to what the next chapter of his life will bring as TJ hits this important milestone.

This website!

It’s been quite the few months for Gluing Cheese too! I only launched this site in February and, since then, it’s taken me to places that I couldn’t have expected. National media, a TV appearance, a guest speaking slot, an award nomination … all to do my little bit to support the single parent community. Every lovely and truly supportive message from someone living a similar life and finding comfort in familiarity through my tales is 100% my motivation to do this and to keep doing it too.

I didn’t have any expectations on what Gluing Cheese would become when I started it out. It was about charting what happens. That’s all I have done, really. I have made mistakes along the way – technically and creatively (!) – but it’s a record of a reality. If you look back on old blogs, like I regularly do, you can almost see the shift which has taken place as I have gone from a negative to positive outlook via almost every emotion along the way.

I am far from in the big leagues when it comes to blogging but, to be honest, I don’t think that’s for me anyway. The time that it would demand is in short supply and I don’t really want the constraints or limitations which any commercial interests could bring. It’s my story and I will keep telling it as long as people continue to read it. So, thank you to everyone who has taken in my words – and please keep doing so! I love you for it.

I am not sure what 2020 – or indeed the new decade – will bring. 2019 unexpectedly brought so many of the things that I was hoping for – along with some patches of drama too. So, what would be perfect now is calmness, consistency and much less calamity than the last few years have brought! Let’s find out.