If you'd said to me a year ago that my daughter Ivy would graduate from University with 2:I, find a job that she loved, move into a nice little flat and have a boyfriend with a toolkit who bakes cakes and brings her flowers... I would have been delighted. If you had also told me that the journey towards this happy ending would involve an enormous amount of heartache and frustration and stress on the whole family and relationships tested to breaking point... I probably would have taken a deep breath, braced myself and said - Bring it on.
Of course, nobody said these things and hindsight remains a fatuous concept.
2012 was a year full of personal achievements and wonderfully happy times as well as some tragically senseless loss of life that reminds you to treasure all that you have. However, I will probably always remember it for being the year Ivy came back home.
When my daughter graduated from University, she was completely without a plan for the rest of her life. We tried to encourage her to make use of the University careers resources but she left it all too late and had no other option than to return home. I imagined that having her home would bring an exciting new dynamic to family life. She could share some of the workload of running a home, we could bear witness to her promise and potential falling into place as her life took on the as yet unknown shape. Unfortunately, my workload increased and the shape her life took was prickly and unstable.
Having her around was emotionally draining and frustrating. Any time we tried to help or offer suggestions she would feel that we were attacking her or making judgements on her choices. We tried to back off and let things play out in their own way but as a parent it is incredibly difficult not to try and intervene when you can see your child making stupid mistakes.
The story is really my daughter's to tell, not mine - but the tears I cried belong to me.
The story has the happy ending. She found part time employment in an elegant rural gastro pub. She thrived in the environment and started dating one of the chefs. On new years day, she moved out of our family home into a small flat that she can just afford on her wages.
I am so proud of her for making this step to independence but our relationship is still strained. Worse for me than the diminishing of the bond we shared is seeing the erosion of the close relationship she had with her sister Taylor. My relationship with my own sister has suffered a similar erosion so I cannot criticise. These things do happen. I hope with all my heart that it is not irreversible.
Nobody is telling me what 2013 will bring (although triskaidekaphobics may have something to say on the matter!) God willing, this time next year I will be looking back and reflecting on good times and bad. Whatever, the next 12 months have in store for me, I'm taking a deep breath, bracing myself and saying Bring it On.