Wow, March already. Its been a hectic year so far. We’ve been plagued by plenty of insomnia, winter bugs, spring flus, stress and drama. But today, more than anything I’ve also realised how blessed we are.
Never mind the endless worries about money and work and the haves and have nots. I have plenty to be grateful for. Plenty to celebrate and people to love. Never mind the long nights with no sleep and the longer days running after ourselves, never catching up. I tuck my children into bed at night and each morning, even though it’s with great reluctance, always wishing for an extra five minutes of sleep, we wake up to a new day. To more trials and also to more miracles.
For example, bed time has been a huge PITA lately, Max keeps looking for one last “cuddies” and one more story only to wake up 3 hours later when I’m finally catching up with work and the ritual starts again. And with current bout of insomnia, it’s hard. Hard to be patient when you can’t sleep because your brain is in overdrive. Hard not to yell or threaten or beg or cave in for a bit of peace.
But in the greater scheme of things, when I look at these two photos and see just how quickly my baby is growing up, its nothing really, is it? How much longer will he crawl into my lap? To give me his huggies which involves him sticking his face into my neck and rubbing his face into mine. To give me kiss after kiss after kiss. Not much longer.
How much longer will Gabriella come into bed with me in the middle of the night just cos she wants to feel my arms around her? To look to me because I have the answer to everything. How much longer will she pull at my sleeve to get me to stop working at the computer so I can play with her dolls or play pretend or hold her hand until she falls asleep? Not much longer.
What they need from me will change so quickly as it has in the last few years. Every step away from me to independence is a step I am both proud of and dread. Its hard to say don’t sweat the small stuff when you’re pulling your hair out with frustration because you have a bazillion things on your to do list and your kids have just wrecked the living room you spent two hours tidying up. Or when your daughter is late for school everyday because you just can’t get your shit together to go to sleep at a reasonable time so you never wake up on time either.
But seriously, don’t. sweat. the. small. stuff.
It’s mother’s day on Sunday (the fake Irish one that’s to do with Easter as opposed to the 2nd Sunday in May that the Americans invented and I grew up celebrating). I will be working and Justin will be climbing some huge mountain. My kids will be with the babysitter for part of the day. But I will come home at lunch time and we will spend some time together while we wait for daddy to come home to have family dinner.
Today, I met a mother who will be getting out of hospital on Sunday to prepare for her child’s funeral the next day. A child who was born sleeping and will forever live only in her heart and her dreams. That’s what her mother’s day will be.
So I will take the prolonged bed times and the whining (oh, god, the whining!) and the cranky kids and the uneaten dinners and the never ending mess on the floor, under the couch, on the table, in the playroom/junkroom. The laundry that breeds like rabbits and the mismatched socks and the hectic mornings yelling at the kids to HurryTF up cos I overslept. And the worry, the constant worry that we are doing a
good decent job. I will take it all. With it, I take the hugs and the kisses. The silly nonsense jokes that make me laugh anyway. The cheeky smiles that melt my heart. The art work they spend hours on to get just right for you to put up on the fridge. Or in Max’s case the scribbles in half the pages of my new (expensive) notebook (which make me smile anyway). I will take it all.
I don’t talk much about my work with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. And maybe because I haven’t really spoken about it, I’ve had people tell me that it’s morbid or worse “ambulance chasing”. But you know what, I’m not forcing it on you. I’m not asking you to look at the photos (Its not allowed and I would never compromise someone’s privacy that way.) You’re not the one whose arms are empty. You’re not the one who will carry this life in your heart, long after the details become fuzzy in your mind.
It is there and it is simply heart breaking.
I am equally uncomfortable with the praise. Yes, I AM strong and I AM grateful for the opportunity to be able to offer this free service to grieving families. Not everyone could do it. I’m not doing it for accolades, or a pat on the back. I’m not going to put it in my portfolio to immortalise someone’s grief. But in the hope that weeks from now, years from now, a mum or dad will look at their photos and remember not only their angel but that someone cared enough to take some time out of their own lives to give them something to remember and to cherish.
So, yes, I will take it all and I will read this when times are tough (or I imagine them to be) and I will be thankful and appreciative and I will remember.
(sleep wake hope and then) e.e cummings