Like most people do this time of year, I have been spending a lot of time looking back over the past year. A lot happened in 2015. It was a year of amazing growth for Esmé and, as a result, it was also a year of changes for me too. The most notable gain was, of course, our learning that Esmé can read (read about it on the New York Times Parenting Blog, Motherlode)…but there were other gains that seemed small at the time, but that have had a huge impact on our daily lives–her increasing independence, her new interest in children, her growing strength. Esmé’s gains have meant that she wants and needs some space between us–and she has made this clear.

As I read through the posts from the last year, I see that in this space left by Esmé’s independence I have found the time and energy to explore what the flexing boundary between the two of us looks like. As Esmé’s health has stabilized, I have begun to understand that we are on a very different journey than where we began with the tiny vulnerable baby she used to be. In her first years every ounce of my energy was directed toward her immediate safety–it had to be. The number of times that I held Esmé in her first years, watching her turn blue, wondering whether she would take another breath, and, if she didn’t, whether there would be anything I could do–it is unspeakable.

But we aren’t there right now. We aren’t. Sometimes, though, I realize that something instinctual in me doesn’t completely know that yet…

But, even if I can’t fully turn off the switch that is just waiting for something terrifying to happen around me, I think I am slowly understanding that this new phase we are in? It requires me to be a different kind of mother. A different kind of advocate. And a different kind of woman.

Right now Esmé may not need me to watch her airway as carefully or chart her seizures as obsessively or chase down doctors the way I used to… What she needs is for me to let her experience the world more–all while watching carefully, speaking up for her (until/unless she can do it for herself), and preparing to step in only when she needs me.

She may also need me to know myself a bit better–not just who I am as her mother, but who I am as an individual, an advocate, a writer–someone who she can look to as a model for strength and hard work and purpose. A model for being real, and raw, and honest about what I feel and need. For seeking fun and happiness and adventure.

As I read through the top posts of 2015, I thought about these changes–in her, in her needs, as well as the changes in me–and I find myself looking forward to the coming year, and the exciting things I am anticipating about the next year…but even more for the many many surprises I can imagine 2016 has in store for us.

Without further ado, the top ten most read posts of 2015 are:

10. My Biggest Fear

9. Our Caregivers

8. When She’s Five She’ll Talk, Right?

7. Five Things I’ve Said to Strangers That Were Not Jokes

6. Palliative Care

5. Why We Need To Talk

4. I Don’t Know How You Do It

3. In The Shadow of Seizures

2. Um, No

1. What Happened on Sunday

Did you favorite post of 2015 make the list? If not, let me know what it was!