The HR Juggler

Day 19: Annus Horribilis?

Posted on: December 19, 2012


Jane Blackmore (@janeblackmore) also known as Northernmum, is the author of today’s post. Her blog is one of my all-time favourites and makes me laugh and cry in equal measure….which is exactly what happened when I first read her guest post below. My daughters are only a couple of weeks older than Jane’s twins and our professional lives crossed briefly whilst we were both pregnant. I can relate so much to many of the things she writes about…and yet in recent times there have been a whole set of experiences that I am so thankful I have no direct knowledge of. To me, she…and her family…are simply amazing.


This is the first new year that we won’t be ‘doing’ anything. New Year usually finds me and the father of my children dressed in ridiculous outfits surrounded by friends; last year was onesies – where I looked like a pregnant snowman, before that we were race jockeys and the time before we were eighties legends. This year I will be wearing my new Christmas pyjamas, pouring a very big glass of wine and closing the door firmly on 2012 without any fuss or celebration. I hold little expectation for 2013 as the last twelve months have taught me to live each day as it comes and seize happiness with both hands.

2012 was my annus horribilis.

I told this to my six year old son and he immediately told his teacher that I had a horrid anus which was embarrassing when we were all seated in the classroom making decorations for the upcoming celebrations. Since then one small child has insisted on trying to examine my anus every morning in the queue for class which has led to me wearing tunic style jumpers and a long duffel coat to avoid his prying fingers. I am not a fan of people trying to poke my anus.

The year started with a week in hospital watching my beautiful 18 month old daughter undergo hip surgery and have her legs pinned into a half body spica cast for three months. I cannot even begin to describe the agony of emotions that we endured that week that spilled into the next 3 months, tears well in my eyes as I type the words and I know I am not yet recovered from the journey we took together.

Through a turbulent time I learnt about true strength and determination, I watched a baby learn to crawl without using her legs, I saw a child grow and play without even knowing her legs were bound. So many of us think happiness must be found or bought, my daughter showed me that happiness is a state of mind.

I say 2012 was my horrid anus but actually I cannot recall a more elated moment in my life than watching my smallest girl take her first steps for the second time.

Life has spiralled past this year, it has been unrelenting, fraught with confusion and change. Our family started the year surviving on one income whilst the other parent cared for a sick child and we will end the year the same way except it is a different child and a different parent.

We survived the summer, six weeks of no childcare for our three children whilst their teachers partied on a Greek island relishing the freedom. We emerged in September a little battered, slightly paint smeared from attempts at crafts and with a full recycling bin that groaned under the weight of empty bottles of mummy’s medicine. School took the children back, my husband started work with the smallest child well on the road to recovery and then life picked up his bowling ball and sent us spinning.

October was full of washing, night after night of bed stripping and mattress wiping. My eldest daughter, the girl who is growing at a relentless rate and seems to be ageing daily suddenly went backwards. A confident, beautiful child who lived for her next dance lesson and thrived on trying her hardest suddenly turned silent, pale, a six-year-old who wet the bed up to six times a night.

We asked the question, was it us, is two working parents too much when you are a family of five, did she need me at home?

We couldn’t find the answers.

My nights became sleepless, mixed with worry and so many urine soaked sheets.

Halloween came and a routine appointment sent us straight to A and E with a diagnosis of diabetes; in forty-eight hours colour started to flood her cheeks again and my dancer returned brimming with insulin and not so full of sugar.

Alison has asked us to reflect and look for resolutions, when I reflect I don’t purely see a hospital cot but it lingers behind most memories. But I also feel wiser, my priorities are firmly in the right place I have leapt from being a career focused mother to being a mother who has a career on the side. I can be both but the scales just lean slightly heavier to being mum.

I learnt everything from my children, I learnt a six-year-old can puncture her skin up to eight times a day to give herself life saving insulin because she simply wants to stay alive. I learnt that if you want something hard enough you can make yourself move no matter what is tying you down. I kept my sanity by having an incredibly amusing sidekick in my son who made me laugh no matter what ever the circumstances.

I have spent enough time in children’s wards this year to see that my annus horribilis is nothing compared to the trials of other families and knowing I am lucky keeps me warm at night.

I told my children my hopes for 2013 were centred on keeping them well, my elder daughter nodded solemnly and promised to do her best to keep all of her vital organs functioning, my youngest child leapt 2cm’s into the air confirming her legs were here to stay, then my son said….

“Well I am sorry mum, but it is simply not happening.”

I turned to my six-year-old boy with a questioning glance,

“I really want the new sky-landers game and if I have to give up a pancreas or sit my backside in a cast for three months then I am more than prepared to do so, I don’t care what you say it is my blooming turn to sleep in hospital and have you all to myself!”

With a flourish he wandered off murmuring “who needs a pancreas anyway…”

I have added sky-landers to his Santa’s list – I am fond of that child’s pancreas…..

To the end of the year I raise a toast, so many lessons learnt, so many tears shed and so much laughter found in the strangest places. To the children I have spent nights sharing a ward with, thank you for showing me bravery I have never imagined. To my own family, I only hope you know how much the year has made me love you all so much more deeply.

To 2012 – don’t slam the door on your way out.

14 Responses to "Day 19: Annus Horribilis?"

Dear Jane,

I have read your blogs this year and from time to time we have exchanged tweets, however, this post has just blown me away. I wish you and your brave family the very best for 2013. Let it be a gentle one that blossoms your beautiful blossoms.

Thank you for sharing.

Bina. Xx

Dear Jane,

I felt compelled to comment on this wonderful blog post and yet I am not sure (even as I write) what I want to say. As a father your post resonated deep within and has reminded me that I need to put my phone down and play more. As a fellow human being I am full of admiration for your strength and determination. As a man who at times can be amusing I loved the humour element in this post, both from you and your son.

Overall thank you for sharing. I am so pleased you wrote this post and thanks to Alison for curating.

Merry Christmas

Jane. I’ve been off the grid for a few months due in part to an annus horribilis of my own. Although I think I prefer the term horrible anus! Your post reminds me that not everything on twitter and in the blogosphere is about self promotion, business or generally about non personal matters. Blogs started largely around personal self expression and sharing and I’m grateful for the fact that the second blog post I’ve read in 5 months was yours. We are human after all. An inspiring story and a reminder to me that we all face challenges, we are not alone and that I’ve got to know some wonderful people through this medium. Thank you so much for sharing. Here’s to 2013 and whatever it chooses to throw at us. Bring it on…

Dear Jane, I feel as though I have lived (or at least observed) your year with its many trials through your blog, but this is a wonderful summary of much that you have been through. You and your family are brave and amazing. You are right that we need to consider our values and priorities – people have to be more important than spreadsheets. Thank you for the reminder. I am humbled by how you have coped and retained a sense of humour – I’m not sure that I have the same strength.

I wish you all the very best for 2013. A truly moving and humbling blog. You are due lots of good fortune karma says 🙂

Sadness and Humour. Somehow they need to get to know each other better. I think you’ve helped. A lot.

What a journey – thank you so much for sharing it

I have been on part of this journey with you this year and this post has just got the tears rolling down my cheeks again. I too cannot wait to shut the door on this year and pray and hope that 2013 brings us both better years. Love you and your kids xxx

[…] Hot off the press I am part of a wonderful series called Advent Posts hosted by fellow multiple mum Alison, my post goes live today and it was a particularly hard piece to write as I look back over the last twelve months retrospectively.  Read it here […]

What can I say, You have dont it and have come out the other side. You can do anything as long as you are all together. MWAH, wet sloppy kisses

Sometimes a collection of words can stop you in your tracks. I’m trying to find something comforting, wise or hopeful, but am failing dismally. Thank you for inviting me in, through Alison’s blog. Today, you’ve helped me understand more, to feel sadness, yet also feel a little more comforted, wiser and hopeful.
With the reserves of strength and determination – and humour – you all have, I can’t wait to hear what celebratory dress-ups you’ll be in next NYE.
It sounds to me that your daughter and twins understand that happiness is a state of mind from you.
I hope 2013 has far more joy and far fewer children staring curiously at your bum. X

You are going to keep 2013’s arse! I know it. You are amazing and don’t forget it.
Sending lots of Christmas love and hugs for you and the whole family. xxxxxxxx

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