So the carnival is over - I am about to return to work. The Toddler has spent the last year changing from of mysterious bundle to a larger-than-life personality full of giggles. I think I have changed too and am much better for it.
I have learnt that living life as if in a musical is no bad thing - randomly breaking into song in order to stop the crying is kind of uplifting and no longer caring whether people think I am crazy is quite liberating. There is also nothing like having an enthusiastic Toddler pumping the air with her fist as we sing about the Little Green Frog for the thousandth time.
I've also become pretty alternative - I've had the time to research and enjoy the challenge of building a cloth nappy 'stash' (as well as learning the lingo) and we have now switched to using soap nuts in our laundry rather than conventional soap powder or liquid. My cooking has expanded to include extra virgin coconut oil (heavenly), ghee (also amazing) and a wider range of organic grains (like millet and quinoa) in my never-ending quest to make the Toddler's food as healthy and delicious as possible.
The need to get out and about without a car (I don't drive) has also meant that I have become addicted to a daily walk with the pram and the Toddler. We've walked kilometres and kilometres singing and talking and I've learnt how to stack lots of groceries and other items onto the pram in a way never imagined by its makers.
I've become much more connected to what is going on in my corner of Brisbane. We've gone to free concerts and festivals and spent so much time in parks. I've discovered that parents should be a member of the library and that every afternoon you can find some other Toddler there to play with your Toddler (without needing to clean up the house or invite anyone over).
My time at home has let me make a special new friend who also has a Toddler and given me so much more to talk about with other friends who are going through motherhood at the same time.
Finally, this year has let me get to know the Toddler inside out and take the time to do whatever she wanted. We looked at the cat, we cuddled and we read books. We waved to strangers and we had picnics. I found out that walking into her room when she woke up from a sleep could feel like Christmas used to when I was a kid - that magic can happen in the ordinary everyday world.
Now it is her Dad's turn. I wish him all of the fun, love and magic that I had.