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  • Gareth Ellis

Review of the Year: 2020

This year has been a strange one.

Dominated strongly by one thing, we’ve seen the best and worst of the human spirit as people battled through tiers and heartbreak with laughter and strength.

It was a year where we welcomed our beautiful daughter, Emilia, to our family and she made us feel complete, yet we weren’t allowed to meet up with family so they could share in our joy.

Here’s a rundown of life in the Ellis household in 2020.

January: Rupert walked for the first time outside. We went to Willen Lake for a potter about and he loved being outside (something he still loves now). Unfortunately, the wind was so strong it blew him over. Jess and I learned the Oh Na Na Na Tik Tok dance, even with her being six months pregnant. No-one needs to know it took my old man brain about ten takes to get it right.

February: We bought Rupert his first pair of shoes (and wellies) and he loved parading them around the shop, and then the shopping centre as well. It’s strange to think he was still going to nursery by this point, and I was still going into the office. Ru learned to use the washing machine, which was both amazing and frustrating, as all he wanted to do was press the buttons.

March: The month the UK started to go a little crazy as Coronavirus reached our shores. In the Ellis household, Rupert stopped going to nursery and, being outside and walking meant he discovered puddles! I was signed off work with stress and took the time to put up some stair gates, which Rupert took great delight in pushing his cars through. Suddenly, we couldn’t buy toilet rolls or pasta.

April: Jess’ wonderful friends gave her a virtual baby shower as baby’s due date loomed. Rupert joined me on pretty much every work Teams call, before getting bored after five minutes. We bought a double buggy, and things started to feel a lot more real, scary and exciting. Rupert was oblivious.

May: Our beautiful little Emi arrived. Up until the birth we didn’t know what we were having. When we saw she was a girl I sobbed, tears of joy I might add, as our family was completed. Suddenly, Rupert was not oblivious anymore and was now besotted with his little sister. My multi-tasking skills were put to the test and whereas sleep was out, love was in. Rupert’s personality started to shine through and although we had a few hiccups, our caring boy really showed us how good he was once his sister arrived. Daddy, so used to changing and clothing a boy, had to get used to something completely different.

June: As Emi grew, so did our hair, as lockdown closed all the hairdressers. Rupert discovered, and grew to be obsessed with jumping in puddles – I mean, he had to test the new wellies, right? Living with two babies was tough, but amazing, and Rupert only wanted to explore outside, usually in his water table. When he wasn’t staring at Emi, of course. By this time, I’d forgotten what a full night’s sleep was and despite having three weeks of paternity leave I started back at work. Although, if Covid gave me anything, it was time with my family as we got used to working from home (YOU’RE ON MUTE!)

July: Panic over! Rupert and I finally got our hair cut. Meeting people outdoors became the new norm, so we got plenty of time outside, and it was fun managing that with having to work as well. Rupert tried, and didn’t like, a mini milk, we called the doctors regarding the fact there was clearly something wrong with him. Emi carried on smiling, and projectile vomiting, but it was clear she was as happy with Rupert as he was with her.

August: Rupert upgraded from simply watching the washing machine, as his Nanna bought him a seat to sit in while it was going round. Emi grew out of her Moses basket, which was a sad sign that she was growing too quickly already. Rupert tried a babycino for the first time….and promptly made a big mess as using a straw to drink confused him a little bit. We started to decorate baby girl’s room with the hope it would be finished when it came for her to move into her own space.

September: It seemed like Rupert was changing every day. He was developing new skills every day and loved baking with Mummy. We taught him the signs for cake (why?) and biscuit (again, why?) but he still loved his old favourites of jumping in puddles, playing on the swings and exploring outside. I built myself a website, ready for the move into freelance writing (more about that in October.) We made the most of getting out and about and saw some amazing sights through our National Trust memberships and Emi giggled for the first time, which was the most beautiful sound.

October: The month I’d been looking forward to/dreading as I was made redundant from my job as a copywriter. Jess and I had always discussed me being a full time Daddy for a couple of years when she went back to work, but this was the reality hitting me hard. I made some wonderful friends at my last job and not seeing them every day was something I wasn’t quite ready for. But still, it was an exciting time for the Ellis family as we realised, we’d never get this much time to spend together again. Emi was getting stronger and starting to try and sit up on her own and even rolled for the first time. Rupert was entering an early version of the terrible twos. A trip out to go pumpkin picking was taxing as he just wanted to pick up all the pumpkins he saw, namely the biggest ones.

November: The month that saw us go into full lockdown for the second time, meaning that Rupert, my mother-in-law and I all had to celebrate our birthdays in a completely different way. Our walks, once filled with sun cream and water breaks, were replaced with hot chocolate and warm clothes. Rupert turned two and continued to amaze us with how much he understood, even if we did worry a little bit about his speech. Emi moved out – of our bedroom – and we started sleep training her, which sounds easy but is still proving to be tough. You can’t let a baby cry when they share a wall with your two-year-old. Rupert’s birthday was about as special as we could make it, considering the circumstances, and it was filled with cars, cake and laughter, so he loved it. Emi sat up properly for the first time, which also meant she fell backwards for the first time too. A commando crawl was her new preferred mode of transport. Oh, and she slept through the night for the first time – now if she could only learn to do that more often…

December: With the misery of Covid hanging over our heads we, like many others, got our decorations up early. We introduced elf on a shelf (which Rupert hated) and advent calendars (which Rupert loved.) We decided that family time was our priority, and we went on as many Christmassy adventures as we could, including a trip to see Santa at Frosts in MK and the lights at Waddesdon Manor. However, there was no Christmas shopping, no lights switch ons, and tiers brought tears. The great thing about children though is their resilience. None the wiser about the shit show going on around them, Emi started on proper food and joined Rupert in the big bath. Rupert seemed to learn a new word or action every day and continues to amaze us. In true British fashion we kept calm, carried on and made the best of it.

I’m now looking forward to 2021. I can’t wait to see Emi’s character grow even more and watch Rupert learn so much more about the world around him – although that will also bring potty training, and the terrible twos. I’m confident though that we as a family will rise above anything the world wants to throw at us and all I can hope for you all reading this is the same. So, here’s to a happy and healthy year for all of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of those who have read this blog, commented and liked it – even if this is your first experience of it. Thank you for letting me share my family and I’s journey with all of you.

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