I’ve rarely been happier to say goodbye to a year, but the flip side is that I’m looking forward to a fresh start in 2018. Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version of 2017, and what I’m looking forward to in 2018:
- My son. He continues to delight and amaze me every single day of his life. This week at home with him has been truly lovely. He’s starting to have the patience for longer books (Dr. Seuss’s ABC, Angus and the Ducks, and Do You Speak Fish? are three current favorites), and his sense of humor is just wicked (this week it’s all about the yes/no questions and giggles: Is this hairbrush your dada? NO!!!! Is this pillow your dada? NO!!!! Is that doggie your dada? NO!!!! Totally cracks him up every time). We have a Solar System rug in his playroom, and he loves running from the Sun to Jupiter to Neptune upon request, and playing Solar System Twister by trying to stand on as many planets as possible at the same time. He likes to play hide and seek, mostly by hiding in plain sight and dissolving into giggles as we pretend to search for him (Is S under the table? Is he in the bathroom?) I could go on and on, but I’ll stop. 🙂
- Work stuff. My first postdoc got a job offer! This was a huge deal, since I have been worried that he would not get an academic job and would be forced out of academia after which I would have been convinced that I ruined his career by bringing him to my rinkydink little college for a non-traditional postdoc opportunity. Instead, he was offered a potentially permanent job that he would most certainly not have been qualified for before working in my group for four years. I am so happy for him. And I shouldn’t jinx it, but my year of supervising three thesis students isn’t going as badly as I feared, and I think they’ll all have high-quality theses come May. There’s also a light at the end of the tunnel for a really big invited review paper that I’ve been working on for about a year now — it should be done by the end of next week. It’s a ton of work, but will have high impact, and I’m pretty proud of it. And as I wrote a few days ago, I totally rocked my 5th-year pre-tenure review and am optimistic about the tenure process that will start next fall.
- My support network. Having difficult years really makes you notice all the wonderful people in your life who are around to help you through the crumminess. First prize goes to my amazing husband, of course, but I’ve also got prizes to hand out to other relatives and friends as well — the list is long enough that it makes me feel good about where I am in life right now. Having a kid hasn’t totally squelched my important relationships as I feared it might. I’ve been leaning on them a little more than usual of late, though, so I’ll have to make sure I’m giving back in the new year.
- Two miscarriages. Recurrent Pregnancy Loss diagnosis. Ongoing testing with no answers yet. Coming up on a year of TTC living baby #2. Oh, and the due date for my first post-S pregnancy is coming up this week. Blargh.
- My father died. I had a complicated relationship with him, which has made it tough to sort through my feelings about his death, but the short version is: it sucks. I think my grieving process has been largely focused on morbid thoughts about the mortality of my son and husband (also myself), which is not fun.
- My mother had major surgery two weeks ago (a hip replacement). Recall that I am ruminating on mortality, so it freaked me out emotionally right from the start. My mom also lives a two-hour drive away, which is better than a plane flight away, but since she lives by herself she really needed help. I made three round-trip drives in a week (one overnight stay the day she came back from the hospital, plus two day trips). Thankfully, she’s on the mend now and I can relax a bit. But I’ve really been feeling the whole “sandwich generation” thing this year.
- Work-wise, this fall was a survival semester, in the sense that I phoned it in on a lot of teaching stuff and was kind of a crappy collaborator on a couple of projects. Mostly I managed not to be too crappy at any one thing, which I feel like I can be at least a little bit proud of when you consider how my semester went. Another part of my grieving process seems to be occasional irritability, which is out of character for me, and there are a couple of emails I wish I hadn’t hit “send” on — although I have to say that the people on the receiving end did basically deserve them, even if I am usually more diplomatic. Oh, well…. I don’t think I burned any bridges too badly. And I did an OK job of circling my wagons and prioritizing critical stuff like my research group and paper drafts, so hopefully I managed to mostly insulate my professional list from my personal problems.
The New Year
- Getting back on the TTC wagon. In a way, it feels good to have a fresh start after this most recent miscarriage, and to know that I’m back with the RE who will keep a really close eye on everything and do whatever she can to help us conceive the living child that we’re dreaming of. I had visions of being a normal pregnant lady at my local OB’s office, but the silver lining of being abnormal is that I get more support and reassurance and can work on developing a plan. I’m optimistic about our chances of success, since S is proof positive that my body is capable of carrying a baby to term. I wish I could see the future and know how long it will take and what we’ll have to go through to get there, but I’ve been through enough at this point that I’m also feeling relatively calm and confident that I can just go with the flow for a while. I am definitely in a much better place than I was three years ago after the loss of our daughter. It seems like I shouldn’t be, since I’ve had three times as many losses by now, but for one thing I have S, and for another thing I’ve developed a certain amount of resilience. I have hope for 2018.
- The push to tenure. There’s a certain narrowing of focus that happens when you’re less than a year from putting in your tenure packet. I’m in a good place right now: I already have a really solid portfolio of work, and I have a bunch of things in the pipeline, and I know what I need to do before next fall. I’ve already done most of what I need to do, and the rest is in process. Some of it is dependent on other people (like my students), but not too much. I’ll be working hard this year, and I’ll have to prioritize like crazy, but the tenure process is another thing that I’m optimistic about for 2018. I am so looking forward to submitting my tenure packet next fall and knowing there’s nothing more that I can do. I think I’ll feel good about the body of work that I’ve accomplished on the tenure track.
- The adventure of parenting. I know people say the twos are terrible, and plenty of people will tell you that threenagers are worse, but you know what? I’ve loved every age and stage of S’s life so far, and while there are certainly challenging moments/days, the thrill of seeing this little person growing up into himself more than outweighs the difficulties. I am more crazy in love with this kid than I ever knew I could be, and I am looking forward to seeing what new skills and interests and ideas he develops in the new year. I’m looking forward to getting more insight into his odd little mind as his communication skills improve. And I’m looking forward to more snuggles and giggles as the toddler years wear on — I know that all too soon he’ll be too grown up for mama snuggles, so I’m soaking up every moment of it while it lasts. I also love watching my husband surprise me with his parenting ninja skills, and I fall in love with him again every day as I see him growing into an amazing father. He is so creative and funny with S that it just melts my heart. Our family is so beautiful right now, and I hope that it will always stay that way — or perhaps even grow in love with a new member on the horizon.
And that’s the year! Happy 2018 to everyone. My hope for you all is for a brighter year full of love, laughter, new memories with your loved ones, and wishes coming true.