Lessons I learned in 2018

New Year is a time for reflection and, in a year which has undoubtedly been a mix of highs and lows, I think it’s important to really focus on the positives, to document all it has taught me, and all it has given us, so that in moments of doubt over this coming year, I can look back and see how far I have come. This year I have realised there is a lesson to be learned in every hardship, that anything is possible with a little self belief, and that with the right people beside you, you are never truly alone. In that way 2018 has taught me so much.

1. I am not the perfect parent, and nor do I have to be. 

Almost fifteen years and five children later, I have finally accepted that it is perfectly okay to live an imperfect life. Parenting is hard work, the toughest job in all the world no doubt, and all that really matters is that I am the best parent I can be on any given day.

Because when I asked the children to share their memories of 2018 with me, not once did they mention the days when I was tired or ill, when the house was a mess, or they ate chicken nuggets for four days running. Not once did they recall the moments I had sent them to school without their PE kits, their reading books, their homework; the nights I screeched at them to get to sleep, the mornings I lost my shit when they took forever to get their shoes on.

Instead they told me about the holidays we had taken, the special moments we had shared; they recalled the days we built sandcastles on the beach and paddled in the sea, the times we watched movies and ate popcorn in our pyjamas, the moments when I held their little hands in mine on another adventure, when we laughed until our sides hurt, when I looked at them, and they looked at me, and we knew that all we ever needed was each other.

I am not the perfect parent, and nor do I have to be, but in their eyes I am doing the greatest job in all the world. And that’s all that really matters.

2. Things change.

This year has taught me that nothing stays the same and, no matter what you do to try and prevent it, things will always change. More specifically, people change, and those who stood beside you through the good times may not be stood beside you through the bad.

I learned that everyone who comes into your life will teach you something, be that good or bad, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will stick around. People will surprise you with their capacity to change, in the same way that they will surprise you with their capacity to change you. Whatever the reason for someone coming into, or out of, my life, I have realised how incredibly lucky I am to have so many wonderful people, old friends and new, standing beside me at the end of the year and I will be holding each of them close and making a real effort to spend more time together in 2019.

3. A little kindness goes a long way.

We all talk a lot about kindness – as a society, as people, as parents – and yet this year I have really tried hard to put it into practice and sprinkle a little kindness everywhere.  I’ve learned that kindness comes in many forms – it’s lending an ear to those needing a friend, it’s saying thank you, saying sorry, saying congratulations, saying I’m here. It’s biting your tongue when you know you’re in the wrong, turning a negative thought into a positive comment, it’s opening your mind when you’re struggling to understand others. It’s learning to forgive, learning to forget, learning that unkind comments don’t necessarily make for unkind people; knowing that mistakes are made, things are said, but with a little kindness we can all live and let live.

And most of all I have learned that the first person you need to be kind to is yourself. It’s been said you can’t give away something you don’t have and it’s near impossible to be genuinely kind to others if you do not treat yourself well.

4. We never truly lose someone we love.  

With every passing year I feel my heart breaking that Joseph is even further away, that slowly but surely his name is spoken less by others, that it becomes harder to associate the child he would be today with that tiny baby in my arms. And so for such a long time I clung to my grief in a way that, even throughout what should have been the happiest times of my life, I still focused solely on the negatives, perpetuating that endless cycle of misery, always living with one foot in the past, never allowing myself to be truly happy for fear of betraying Josephs memory.

In a year where I have received tremendous support following my appearance on both television and radio sharing our story, I realised that his legacy was not one of sadness, but one, very much deserving, of happiness. Although losing him was the hardest, most painful experience of my life, I am so proud of the way in which his tiny footprints left such a huge imprint on the lives of many and the countless ways in which he has enriched our lives.

And although I cannot change what happened, nor erase all of that sadness from my memory, when I think of him I want to focus on the positives, on those long summer days when he kicked inside my tummy, that very first moment when he was placed in my arms, his shock of dark hair, those beautiful rosebud lips and the most perfect little fingers and toes. And I’m genuinely happy – that he chose us, that he changed our entire world, and that he made me who I am.

And when I look at the children, at the sparkle in their eyes and the sound of their laughter, I know, without a moments hesitation, that he is never far away.

5. Extraordinary things happen to ordinary people.

When I first started my blog just three and a half years ago, it was simply a way of clawing back a little “me” time, giving me somewhere to channel all of the weird and wonderful thoughts in my head, and a way of sharing our five little doves with those who have supported us along the way. At the start of 2018 I never thought for one minute that I would be succeeding in a job I love, travelling with my family by my side, being recognised amongst countless publications, and ending the year in the top 10 of UK parent bloggers.

And as someone who has never wanted to be anything other than a Mother or a writer, I genuinely feel like the luckiest person in the world to be combining the two. With my blog going from strength to strength, I have found a real determination to make a success of our lives, to give my children everything I can possibly offer them, and to wake up every single morning with a story to tell and the knowledge that, with a little hard work and determination, the sky really is the limit.

6. I am far braver than I give myself credit for.

I have made no secret of my battle with my mental health over the last two decades and, although I have made so much progress, anxiety is still a huge part of who I am. This year I pushed myself to my limits (albeit after many sleepless nights, hysterical tears and, of course, Valium!), and faced my fears head on. Not only did I board a plane for the first time in six years but, just two months later, I boarded a plane alone and flew to Tenerife for a week long press trip away from my children.

There, I overcame the catastrophic thoughts which plague my every day and finally learned to just let go. I went in a submarine, up a volcano, zoomed down water slides and danced until my feet hurt. I drank cocktails and ate delicious food, read my book in the sun, swam in the pool, and I laughed, a lot. For the first time in fourteen years I remembered who I was before the children came along and, in the space of a week, I learned to let go of all of those fears and realise that life is far too short to spend it worrying about something which hasn’t yet happened.

It sounds very cliche to say that it was a life changing experience but the truth is, it was. I came home from Tenerife a very different person and, although my anxiety is still there lingering in the background, knowing how brave I can be, and have been, makes me want to keep pushing myself further out of my comfort zone until one day, it simply becomes second nature.

7. There is always something to be grateful for.

Despite the fact that this year has seen several lows, particularly when it comes to the health of my children, I have realised that there will always be something to be grateful for.

2018 has been filled with so much love and laughter in our home, it has given us the most amazing holidays, weekends away, countless days out and memories made. We have shared birthdays, parties, new experiences and opportunities, moments that we’ll never forget, and a whole lot of nothing in between.

I’ve watched my little doves grow into the most beautiful, talented, fierce individuals who have made me laugh, cry, and so unbelievably proud, a thousand times over. And whilst 2018 took us on a roller coaster of emotions and uncertainty, for every tough day there was always my husband to come home to, four precious children to hold in my arms, and the knowledge that, regardless of what life throws at us, I am the luckiest Mummy in all the world.

And that’s what it’s all about.

Happy New Year to you all, I hope that 2019 brings you everything you wish for. xxx

 

 

 

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62 Comments

  1. January 2, 2019 / 3:38 pm

    Happy New Year’s to you also! 2018 had a lot of great things that happened in some that were not so good. The only thing that stays the same is that everything changes. I don’t always like it but it does happen. It looks like you all had a wonderful year.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      January 2, 2019 / 3:44 pm

      Thank you Jeanette – happy new year! I think accepting change can be so hard, but embracing it makes it far easier. I hope that 2019 is kind to you. xx

  2. January 2, 2019 / 3:59 pm

    I’m so sorry for the loss you’ve experienced. I lost my Granddad in 2017 and honestly it was the worst thing I have had to have to deal with. But I see and hear him and his advice every day. Telling me life is going to be awful, but it’s also going to be absolutely brilliant. When you come to terms with the fact that a loved one that’s passed on isn’t actually gone, it’s so liberating to feel all the emotions and feelings connected to them.

    I hope 2019 brings you so much love, luck and joy to you and your family! X

  3. January 2, 2019 / 4:25 pm

    It is great that you are hopeful and upbeat for the new year. We have to be happy for all the good things in our lives and for a new year and beginning.

  4. January 2, 2019 / 4:46 pm

    I always love reading your posts – you have done amazingly well and should be proud. Your words are so true to life – thanks for writing all the lovely posts.

  5. January 2, 2019 / 5:07 pm

    We started blogging at a similar time and I always looked forward to reading your posts – you have done so, so well. I admit to having days to where I feel like a bad mum and I feel completely overwhelmed but like you, my kids don’t remember those times, they remember all the great days we’ve had as a family. Well done lovely.

  6. January 2, 2019 / 5:14 pm

    Happy New Year! The arrival of a new year also reminds me of the year that has past and gone. I too am grateful for the lessons each year brings but even more than that I am grateful somewhat for the experiences this life gives us both the highs and the lows. Prayers for the year ahead.

  7. January 2, 2019 / 5:45 pm

    Happy New Year! Wishing you an amazing year ahead! I really learned in 2018 to embrace change.

  8. Candy
    January 2, 2019 / 5:53 pm

    Happy New Year. These are all great life lessons every should learn. Sooner the better

  9. January 2, 2019 / 7:16 pm

    Happy New Year! Love this post. I can relate to so many points you made. <3

  10. January 2, 2019 / 7:18 pm

    Happy new Year to you too. You have come a long way during 2018 and I’ve gotten to read some great posts with some lovely collaborations. I hope that 2019 proves to be even better for you and you family x

  11. January 2, 2019 / 8:35 pm

    Happy New Year! These are some great lessons. I never strive to be a perfect parent. I find perfection to be dull. I like a little excitement 😉

  12. January 2, 2019 / 9:22 pm

    Oh I loved this, what a happy positive post. Happy 2019, I hope it’s equally as productive and positive as 2018 was. P S. you are so right, I don’t think there is such a thing as a perfect parent, I know I am not… 🙂 x

  13. January 2, 2019 / 9:57 pm

    You’re an amazing Mum, a brilliant friend and I’m so proud of you. You’ve pushed yourself to do so much out of your comfort zone and you did them all, with ease and a smile on your face. I’m lucky to have you in my life xx

  14. January 2, 2019 / 11:13 pm

    Best wishes to you and your family in this New Year! True, there is always something to be grateful for even when it’s harder to find. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  15. January 3, 2019 / 1:38 am

    Happy New Year! I’ve actually learned a lot of the same lessons in 2018. I find that they’ve helped me grow.

  16. January 3, 2019 / 3:05 am

    You have so many great thoughts on life in general. It sounds like you had your share of ups and downs in 2018 but are doing well. I hope you have a wonderful and happy 2019!

  17. January 3, 2019 / 6:28 am

    A lot has happened for you in 2018 and what a year!! I too need to take the pressure off myself more about parenting and stop feeling like a failure more often than not. Good luck going into 2019 and hope your successes continue 🙂

  18. January 3, 2019 / 7:06 am

    A perfect way to sum up the year. I agree, sometimes accepting that you can’t be a perfect parent make it easier. What wonderful things you have done to remember Joseph, I’m sure sharing your story has helped so many others. Happy new year!

  19. January 3, 2019 / 7:59 am

    Happy New Year to you and the family 🙂

  20. January 3, 2019 / 9:22 am

    Those are some fabulous lessons to learn and I do agree that extraordinary things can happen to ordinary people x

  21. January 3, 2019 / 9:43 am

    Happy New Year! I really loved reading this post. You’ve had an amazing year. I learnt so much about myself in 2018 that I’m taking forward into the New Year. I’m excited for what it will bring!

  22. January 3, 2019 / 11:20 am

    So true about not having to be a perfect parent. I love that you asked your kids to recall moments from 2018 and that it was only good stuff. I want to do this with my kids. 🙂

  23. January 3, 2019 / 11:45 am

    Happy New Year to you and your family! 2018 was a mixed bag, and I’m really hoping 2019 brings more highs than lows. It’s good to reflect on what you learned the previous year and see where you can improve…and where to just let it go.

  24. January 3, 2019 / 1:34 pm

    You have learned awesome things throughout 2018. Number 1 resonated with me the most. I do not have children but have friends who do and I have noticed that if I do not compliment them on the great job they are doing parenting they will not cut themselves slack.

  25. Pam
    January 3, 2019 / 1:45 pm

    Happy New Year! 2018 was hard for us but I definitely learned a lot and am making big changes in 2019.

  26. Tim B
    January 3, 2019 / 2:01 pm

    Great pictures! Plus some nice thoughts to reflect on as we start a new year. Best wishes for a Happy New Year in 2019 to you and your family!

  27. January 3, 2019 / 3:16 pm

    Wishing you and your beautiful family a happy, wonderful 2019. How have you got such a beautiful flat belly after having children! I have serious belly envy going on here. 🙂

  28. January 3, 2019 / 5:55 pm

    Yes to all the kindness! There were several times this year where I could have continued arguments for the sake of defending my pride but have decided not to do it – kindness is always the best policy!

  29. January 3, 2019 / 6:20 pm

    I hope you and your brilliant family have a great 2019 – with many new memories to treasure… I can’t tell you how much your words chime with me – I try always to be kind, to look for positives, be true to myself and my values. My wonderful brother died two years ago and it knocked me sideways – but I know he’s with me still just as your joseph is.
    Looking forward to reading more of your journey in 2019.
    love Bec 🙂

  30. January 3, 2019 / 7:12 pm

    You’re a great mother. your strength is amazing.
    I wish you the best for this 2019, to you and your wonderful children.

  31. January 3, 2019 / 8:48 pm

    Wishing you a happy new year, lovely lady 🙂 I really enjoyed reading your post as I can relate to everything you spoke about.

    Louise x

  32. Jeanine
    January 3, 2019 / 8:56 pm

    I’ve never thought of myself as a perfect or even near perfect parent! I don’t think it’s something I even think about. I also believe we don’t really ever lose those we love.

  33. January 3, 2019 / 9:55 pm

    What a beautiful post! Lots of wise words there and I hope that you have an amazing 2019 with your gorgeous family.

  34. January 3, 2019 / 10:05 pm

    A wonderful New Year post so beautifully written. You are very brave and an inspiration. So much of what you have written rings true with me. Wishing you and your lovely family a wonderful 2019.

  35. January 3, 2019 / 10:28 pm

    Happy New Year to you, it’s amazing how much we learn in one year and how life can change too. It’s lovely to look back at the year. I love al your photos too

  36. Forever Green Mom
    January 4, 2019 / 12:10 am

    Awww, your photos and family are so precious. Well girl, there are no perfect parents in this world in which we live…I’m okay with it too!

  37. January 4, 2019 / 3:35 am

    I’m coming into the new year with a grief I have never known before. I lost my daddy a few weeks ago and I’m
    Utterly lost.
    Grief is very hard to maneuver.
    Here is to a great 2019 full of love.

  38. Gervin Khan
    January 4, 2019 / 5:29 am

    Such a touching article and very inspiring too. Love this kind of post where we get to see and reflect our self of what we really are. A very deep wisdom we must acquire for our daily lives.

  39. January 4, 2019 / 7:17 am

    Hi, I want to wish you and your family that you will have a stunning new year with so many good things. 🙂

  40. January 4, 2019 / 7:58 am

    Happy New Year Laura and from seeing your stories and your blog, I see that even when knocked down, you always come back fighting. Wishing you an incredible 2019.

  41. January 4, 2019 / 10:10 am

    What a wonderful post and such incredible things to learn! I totally agree that blogging just changes everything and is full of amazing opportunities and things to take us out of our comfort zones. Happy New Years to you all! I hope 2019 is wonderful for you all x

  42. Cathy Stucker
    January 4, 2019 / 1:59 pm

    Great article and nice pictures. Which camera you used to take these pictures.

  43. Jennifer Prince
    January 4, 2019 / 2:29 pm

    I love how children are able to focus on the good things! It’s a shame that we lose that view of life as adults. I hope your 2019 is fab!

  44. January 4, 2019 / 3:08 pm

    I’m so glad that this year has brought you joy and healing, even if the road wasn’t always the easiest. I hope reflecting can bring you new clarity going into the new year, and help you bring more magic and happiness into your kids’ lives.

  45. January 4, 2019 / 5:18 pm

    “Extraordinary things happen to ordinary people”
    This section made my heart flutter and really inspired me! I am so happy that you are able to balance motherhood along side your passion is so amazing and I hope that 2019 brings you ever more success love and memories!

  46. January 4, 2019 / 5:45 pm

    You are not perfect but great mom, that the kids want. I agree with you I am not perfect either, but try to be good mom for my two kids. Happy New Year.

  47. January 5, 2019 / 12:38 am

    Happy New Year! I lost my mum in 2017 so I’ve just endured a full year of experiencing life without her. It has been tough, but I’m stronger and better prepared to see where 2019 takes me.

  48. January 5, 2019 / 12:09 pm

    Happy New Year, to you guys too! I could not love this post more. There is no such thing as ‘the perfect Mum’ but there is such a thing as a ‘great Mum’ and you have that in spades. In fact, we all do because we just want the best for our children and to keep them happy & safe! x

  49. January 5, 2019 / 3:12 pm

    This is so sweet! You really learnt a lot in 2018. It’s okay to not be a perfect parent as long as you are full of love. I wish you all the best this 2019 too!

  50. January 5, 2019 / 11:01 pm

    This is such a positive post for to you look back on when you need to reaffirm these truths. I think we could all take a few of them away with us too!

  51. Blair villanueva
    January 6, 2019 / 11:39 am

    Being a Stepford’s wife or Mom is a boring thing. Being not perfect gives you opportunity to learn more. You are amazing!

  52. January 6, 2019 / 5:51 pm

    This blog is ON POINT! and the pictures are simply captivating ! What do you shoot with ?

  53. January 7, 2019 / 12:53 am

    These are all essential life lessons. The great news is that you learned all of them in one year! In my opinion, parenting is the toughest job on this Earth. I agree with you that as long as you are dedicated to being the absolute best parent day in and day out, you are a success.

  54. Elizabeth O
    January 7, 2019 / 10:45 am

    2018 was a tough year for so many of us with lots of lessons learned. I pray they made us stronger. You’ve been one of my favorite bloggers and I’ve followed your journey… Sorry for your loss and wishing you much happiness in 2019.

  55. January 7, 2019 / 7:41 pm

    Honestly, there is always something to be grateful for. I totally agree with this and I too learned this lesson in 2018. It was a great year for me.

  56. January 8, 2019 / 10:53 pm

    I was nodding and smiling all the way through this as a lot of these I’ve learnt myself recently. It’s good to see that other people know them too 🙂

    Louise x

  57. January 10, 2019 / 12:30 am

    Such a heartfelt post! I’m sorry to hear about the sad parts of your 2018 and pray for a better, healthier, happier 2019 for you and your family.

  58. January 11, 2019 / 2:06 pm

    2018 was filled with plenty of lessons learned, most of them were made the hard way, but still needed to move on and actually learn from. Sending you some good vibes for what 2019 has for you in store. <3

  59. January 14, 2019 / 7:50 pm

    Such a lovely post. I feel that I change a little every year, people surprise me in both good and bad ways. You have done amazing this year and should be so very proud of yourself.

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