For a long time now, I have been saying I want to be able to ‘take things for granted’.
But I think, maybe, that’s not such a good idea. What I really want is to not have the worry or the relentlessly draining side-effects of having to look after two unwell children; and not being able to spend as much time with the third.
If I bimbled along through life with not a care in the world and taking things for granted, I wouldn’t experience the intensity of love that life has to offer. Sadly, the law of equals and opposites denotes that I should thereby have to feel the losses associated with such grand or deep loves.
I’ve never really been in a privileged enough position to take things for granted. There’s always been an awareness of the fragility of life but never involving my own child. That is, until now.
And what a privileged position to be in that all you might worry about is a temperature of 39 due to a winter viral infection or a broken arm off a climbing frame. As unnerving as these things may be at the time, the body heals itself. They become mere anecdotes in the passage of time.
Time, brings me on to my next musing. Life and time are so fundamentally interconnected. Life is a measure of time. Doesn’t everyone work out the age of someone on those park benches installed by loved ones? And I often think to myself, be it sitting in traffic or in the hospital, ‘what’s that person doing with their life?’ I look out the car window and watch them, some rushing, some strolling off to wherever.
What we do with our time is so important. And I don’t mean the time you have for your annual 25 days holiday plus weekends. I mean all your time. All your finite time and it’s infinite possibilities.
I mean seriously, what good are you doing everyday for yourself ? and others?
Taking selfies, instagramming the shit out of life, creating your Pinterest moodboard for your nursery/bathroom/kitchen-diner….it’s not what I’m talking about. How do you spend your time? I challenge you to think about this in your bored moments and ask yourself how much are you ‘just going along with things’.
I’ve been particularly touched by the messages I’ve received over the last year from friends and strangers, who after having read the blog, have said and done some of the following;
– I’m a better parent now thanks to you. I stop and think. I don’t beat myself up so much. I don’t complain or lose my shit so much anymore. They are a total bunch of nuts though, my kids are nuts.
– I took off a whole week of unpaid leave at Christmas and did nothing other than spend time with my kids. We made plans, I put the phone down and was present. I thought of you guys often. I talked to my kids properly. I can’t imagine what you go through. I cuddle them so hard at night and fight back tears if I think of your girls.
– I think of you everyday and try and find beauty, little bits of beauty, in the world around me. (I’ve received pictures of a four-leafed clover, ladybird on a leaf on the way to school, a rainbow, a dandelion…and some missing cows)
– I look at my kids differently now. I’m glad I left him when I did and it’s been a struggle but Daya makes me realise how everything is temporary and I’m all about my kids. Everything. There is no catching up later.
– I don’t complain about a thing. My problems have evaporated. If I feel like I’m having a bad day… I just read your blog!
– you’ve made me a better doctor/Nurse/ parent/ grandparent/ person – I’ve learnt to see life differently. I was half asleep before and I wouldn’t have understood things from your perspective had I not read this. I’m so much more caring, careful and considered.
– Daya’s changed me. I can’t explain it. I’m changed. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about this. We think about you everyday.
– I’ve given up my job. Life’s too short. I’m going away for 18 months. We are all going. Your story has hit me so hard – I can’t do this for the next 20-30 years. Life is too short. I need to live, I can’t exist like this anymore. The whole family are off.
My personal view on this is that it’s not me that’s had the impact. It’s my kids and the agonies that they have relentlessly had to endure. Let’s not forget this. It is not me. It is these brave, enduring little beings.
Life is cruel.
Go enjoy it. Strive everyday to be present. Make plans with the kids even if you can’t always stick to them, you’ll know you tried your best.
Anaya has 13 summers left until she goes to University, when she leaves home and embarks on a new adventure. There will be more adventures before that however when you think about it like this, life is short and childhood is short. Make the most of it while you can. Go and live, learn from our situation, you need to be out there taking pictures. I’ll still be here picking up the pieces.
I still have hope, for better days and all of us in my family photos.