Leaving 2016 for me is a bit like leaving the Big Brother house.  This blog has meant I have opened up a little of my life for your viewing pleasure.  I have shared some personal stuff with you, my audience.  There have been high times and low times, times when I have felt the need to put on a show for those around me and times when I have thought I might break (my ‘Vanessa Feltz writing on the table’ moment!).  But I have made it through without being carted off by men (or women!)  in white coats and in this post, my exit interview, I will share a little of what I have learnt about myself.

Firstly, I have learnt that I love being a mum.  I knew it before, but I now know it even more.  It is the toughest and yet most wonderful job in the world (scrap that – it’s not a job – I don’t get paid.  But if I did, I would definitely have had more children!)  2016 has given me my beautiful baby boy 3.  A baby I waited about 5 years for. And not because we struggled to conceive, but because my husband is stubborn and it took me five years to get him to agree to a third!

2016 has also seen my beautiful Boy 1 and Boy 2 get a year older, grow a whole heap taller, gain two shoe sizes each and develop some serious attitude (hence the ‘tough’ job description! We could ponder right now why my older boys are such a pain in the arse, but I will save that for another post on another day, when they have really got on my wick.  Today has actually been a good day!) But it has also shown me that my older boys both have a wonderful, sensitive side and they have proved to be amazing, doting big brothers to Boy 3.

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This year, I have learnt that parenting is not always easy.  Becoming a parent is not always easy.  I have seen friends struggle to conceive, struggle to carry babies and struggle to become parents.  It has made me realise how precious parenting is and how grateful I am to have my three crazy and full-on boys.  I have also seen friends become ‘parents’ in more ways than actually giving birth to their own children; devoting themselves to children in other  ways, putting aside their own troubles to do so.  These people are incredible and the world needs lots more of them.

And in 2016 we have lost parents.  I know too many people that have lost parents this year.  And it’s not just because we are getting old so therefore our parents are getting older.  Friends and family have lost parents too soon. It should not have been their time.   But we have had to say goodbye.

Last year taught me that I am a cry-baby!  I have shed many tears in 2016.  I blame my hormones for most of these tears.  There have been happy tears – the ones that inadvertently fall from my eyes sometimes while I am breast-feeding Boy 3 – depicting the joy I feel at having him in my life.  There have been sad tears – at funerals; alone in my hospital room in the middle of the night while my newborn baby was being helped to breathe by a machine; at bickering children after a night of broken sleep.  There have been tears of mixed emotions – when Captain Phillips was rescued and questioned by the paramedics! (yes – that was my latest bawler – great film – you gotta watch it!). Whatever the emotion or the moment or the time, I have cried.  Justin Timberlake would be very proud of me – I have cried him a river.  Or a lake.  That seems more appropriate Justin!

2016 has demonstrated to me how loved I am.  How many fans I have. How many people voted for me. (OK – the Big Brother analogy is just too much here, but hopefully you get the idea!)  There have been so many moments when my friends have amazed me.  So many good times.  For example, I was thrown the most wonderful baby shower. My first baby shower.  And every detail was considered.  Friends came and shared in the event, forgave my fat, swollen feet and told me how well I looked!  I felt very special.

There has also been so much support in the sadder times.  And post-baby, when the going got tough, friends got cooking. One of the most touching moments of this year was ‘de Platt Meals on Wheels’ – when my local friends cooked for us and bought round food parcels when it all got too much.

And the amount of cards and gifts that Boy 3 received after his birth was amazing too and showed us how loved we are.  And the visitors…they came from far and wide.  Friends we hadn’t seen for such a long time came to meet our new addition.  And it made me realise that you don’t have to see your friends every day.  Or every week.  Or even every year. I wish I could see them more often, but the friendship dynamics don’t change.  Friends don’t change.  They are always there.

Last year taught me that my marriage is strong.  It is not perfect, because I am a nag and he is a man (!) but it is strong.  And we have fought our way through the tough stuff together, taking it in turns to be the stronger one.  We have pulled together when we needed to, yelled at each other when we needed to and cuddled each other when we needed to.  We have been married 11 years and I think this has been the hardest year yet, but last night we left 2016 united, full of plans and resolutions (and with him a bit tipsy!) and ready to tackle a new year together.

Finally, 2016 has taught me that I love blogging!  I started this blog as a means of escape, a place to vent and stimulation for my brain.  And it has been all of those things.  And more.  I have even gained some readers!  It has become quite addictive.

But I have also learnt that blogging is another commitment.  Another child that needs attention and nurturing.  When I have found time to post regularly, update Facebook, tweet about it and find a complementary Instagram picture (yes – I learnt what all these things mean and how to do them!), my ‘views’ peaked.  It was very exciting.  And then I didn’t do all that stuff, ‘views’ troughed (yes – I used it as a verb!)

I hope that in time The Boy Equation readership will grow bigger and more regular, and that people I don’t even know will enjoy reading what I have to say.  But these things take time.  And effort.  And the commitment is tough.  My three boys all crave my attention (and rightly so) and so the blogging will often take a back seat.  And for that I apologise in advance.

When I am off the radar, just imagine that I am on an idyllic island somewhere, escaping the paparazzi and spending my prize money.

(FYI, I am not.  I am probably ironing or tidying up, or slumped in front of Corrie, wishing I had the energy to fetch my laptop and blog!)

I hope 2016 has taught you a little something about yourself too.

Boy Equation – you have been evicted from the 2016 house.