Firstly, it saw another year of pushing headlong into teenage-dom; my daughter is 14 and although my son is only 10, those manifestations of growing up are already starting to assert themselves in him. We took a deep breath. As I have written about before here and here, raising a teenage girl is not for the faint-hearted, there are challenges at every corner. So the year threw in some of those just for good measure. But on the whole, we were good. They are a gift.
We did the house. Correction: we are still doing the house. BUT, 2015 involved the really mucky, grubby business of knocking down about seven walls, ripping out the kitchen, extending it, putting up a new steel structure that would support it all. Without getting into technical speak, we took on a massive project, turning a 16th Century farmhouse into something that was completely updated and worked for our family and our lifestyle. Space, height and light. Despite having lived here for over ten years, the house still brought surprises; things that it revealed boldly whenever we scratched under the surface.
We moved out for four months and I did daily pilgrimages (x 3) home to check progress. I can honestly say that for about three and a half of those four months I felt like we had made an enormous mistake! They ripped apart this house, lifted it on its foundations, shoved and wrecked and generally man-handled it and made it look oh-so-ugly, it was hard to imagine I would ever want to be in it again. But then - suddenly - as the kitchen went in and we started seeing it take shape, the floors and the walls, it gradually became a home again. Overall the project has taken over two years from the point that we made two houses into one. That's a long time to be living in chaos.
My conclusion on this building project:
Way, way harder than I ever imagined; more marital disharmony, more money, more stress, more sleepless nights. The outcome? Way, way better than I imagined; family life enhanced, happiness all round, calm Sunday afternoons spent enjoying the new space and feeling pretty pleased with ourselves. And yes, it's white and yes part of it looks like an art installation rather than a farm cottage, but I am good with that. It's all part of the trajectory of the house and of our family. A long-awaited treat.
Professionally for me, the year meant some dabbling in various things. I feel like the moment I got my head around the idea of taking on a new path - that of doing a Masters Degree - something calmed inside me. I was a mess before. I have never before looped around the topic of 'what am I doing with my life?' so relentlessly. I had never felt so lost as I did as a full time housewife with no prospect of anything else. And as I have said before, that is not to do with the worthy work of housewives, it's just that for me it was not so good. I was trapped. No amount of cleaning and organising would fix the everlasting issue of what to occupy my brain with. I didn't want to return to the corporate world that I left and honestly I couldn't; there was so much involved in keeping things running and happy at home. I had missed the whole point. I needed to do something that kept my mind busy.
A very good friend suggested the Masters (repeatedly) and I kept dismissing it, thinking that I had already done a degree, why did I need another? That if I wanted to write a book, I would just sit down and write one (how hard can it be?! ha ha). That I wasn't cut out for academic study anymore. That I needed to earn my own money. That it was indulgent. And on and on. Then I thought: f*ck it, just go see what this is all about...
And then, as of September, I became a student again. A part time one, but one nevertheless.
I am replete.
Books are my friend.
And just like that, the inner monologue quietened. Thank goodness.
And can I just say, the degree is actually really hard. It's challenging and it sucks time and I spend a lot of days thinking I am not good enough. I worry about finishing the book. I worry that it will be no good. I walk around with a fairly predictable case of writer's angst much of the time. BUT, I would note that I am happier now than I have been in a long time.
|all images via crush cul de sac|