It’s time to reflect on a year filled with significant family accomplishments.

At the end of the year, it is customary to look back at the past 12 months and try to find some meaning or story that can represent the messy and complicated whole. As a global citizen, this is a challenging task. In a worldwide sense, this has not been a memorable year, as it has been filled with horror, war, moral outrage, and political cowardice. Fortunately, I can narrow my focus to the personal sphere and think about my family’s achievements and successes. To put it mildly, it is the only positive way to view 2023 that I can imagine.
My son has excelled in reading and math, showing a savant-like talent for addition and subtraction, although it can be tiresome at times. He also has a knack for language, although it has recently included regrettable profanity. I have come to see this as a reflection of my own language habits, especially after receiving stories from others about their children swearing. This theory is further supported by the fact that I am the only one who has contributed to the swear jar we introduced.
I will always remember my daughter’s first steps, as it was a highly anticipated milestone. She took her time learning to walk, so much so that I did not write a celebratory piece about it, as I had already written two previous articles about her early and hesitant steps. It seemed unfair to write a third one, months later. Progress, like my daughter, moves at its own pace.
The main narrative of her year has been her gradual acceptance of sleep, which has had a positive impact on all of our mental health. I can try to describe the exhausting effects of waking up at 3am and 4am, but they are best understood by looking at the notes app on my phone, which I used frequently during those early hours.
For years, I have been in the habit of jotting down ideas for my writing, capturing moments of inspiration that might otherwise be lost. However, when I reviewed these notes this week, I realized that this system failed miserably during the seven months in which I was exhausted to the point of madness. This resulted in ideas such as “a man who wants to enter every building in Derry” or “a horse that only eats hard-boiled eggs” – countless ideas that I deemed captivating enough to preserve forever.
When I reflect on 2023 for positives, I don’t look at photo albums or birthday cards, but at these countless lines of cryptic nonsense, hastily transcribed in the dark while soothing a crying child, and their slow transition back to coherence once she started sleeping better.
Reading them now reminds me that, despite the challenges and monotony of this year, things can and do improve. It is important for all of us to remember that.
Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? by Séamas O’Reilly is now available (Little, Brown, £16.99). Purchase a copy from guardianbookshop for £14.78.
Follow Séamas on X @shockproofbeats

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