Let's review the year that was, shall we?
- Big Daddy gets laid off from his 12-year job a mere 3 weeks before we give birth to Baby #2. Instead of spiraling into doom and despair, we regroup, rededicate, refocus.
- Baby #2 arrives, beautiful and perfect, and we adjust to being a foursome...and to sleepless nights, messy diapers, and marveling at the wonder of infancy.
- Mommy is home on maternity leave while Daddy is home on severance pay; Big Brother goes from full-time childcare to half-day preschool and lots of time at home with both parents and his new sibling.
- We spend 3 amazing months together, a glorious springtime with nowhere to go and nothing to do but be a family. We're relatively broke, yet somehow we're able to pay the bills and buy groceries, and we learn to be creative when looking for things to do.
- Mommy goes back to work, to a new role that she doesn't really want but accepts because, really, there's no choice. She works 10-hour days, pumping her breasts every 3 hours and drinking too much coffee to stay awake because Baby is up every 2 hours round the clock. And she's now primary "breadwinner" -- that's new and scary.
- Daddy takes on a new role, too: stay-at-home dad! The work hours are just as long, the pay stinks, but the benefits are great: hours playing at the pool, excursions into the woods to catch garden snakes, naps and games and scraped knees and bottles and diapers and cooking and cleaning and doctor appointments. We both discover he's really, really good at this gig...and we both like our new roles.
- Big brother starts kindergarten: School bus, new teacher, new friends, full day, homework!
- Daddy starts a new office job with a wacky schedule but steady pay, a short commute, and great benefits. Baby starts daycare. Mommy changes her work schedule to meet the school bus each day.
- Mommy's entire work unit is dissolved and her coworker-friends are laid off; she starts yet another new job at the same organization, giving up a telecommuting day and changing her daily schedule yet again.
- Daddy gets a raise after just 3 months in his new job because he's kicking ass. Ironically, this happens on the anniversary of his "liberation" from his previous job.
This is what makes me proudest of my family. We have grown closer and stronger and more in tune with one another. We have slowed down, reprioritized. We play board games together after dinner; we live for Friday movie nights; we snuggle as often as possible. Daddy still makes all our lunches every evening and gets the boys dressed, fed, and out the door each morning. Mommy takes naps on the weekends. Brother lives to make Baby laugh. Baby shows us all something new each day.
It's been the most challenging, most affecting, most memorable year of my life. And although I often joke about wishing for a boring stretch, I'm thankful for every up, every down, every pain, and every joy. This is the stuff of life, and life is good.