Most people who stop blogging for any period of time and then come back usually have a triumphant return story, or a life affirming message, or a new lease on life or have been through a big change in their lives – separation, divorce, death in the family. My return to blogging isn’t nearly as exciting, or important. I don’t have a big secret to tell, there is no launch into something new and I’m not here to tell you that finally my long suffering husband got sick of me and bailed.
The truth is, in the past month more than a few people have asked me why I stopped writing. At first I didn’t really have an answer because it wasn’t something that I consciously decided to stop doing. Much like a new season sneaking in and before you really notice you’ve gone from wearing shorts to jeans the transition to not writing about my life happened and then one day I suddenly realised it had been months and I didn’t miss it at all.
I had started to feel like I had to write because some expected me to have something to say. When I realised I didn’t have anything to say, then it became really hard to write because everything felt mediocre and I have always had such high expectations of myself. So I just shut up. A crisis of writing confidence, as it were.
I’ve always believed that if we listen to our inner voice, we know what we need. Could I have forced it? Sure! I could have sat down, and recounted the day I took Oliver grocery shopping and he told me that his willy was up, and when I looked down at him, not only was his willy up, but he had it OUT and the lady next to us looked like she was three seconds away from a heart attack….. but then I wondered why? Why bother? Who is that story going to help?
And then, that’s the crux of it. Because I used to feel like when I wrote, it helped people. When I was raw with grief and hurt and loneliness I felt like I could write so others would understand. When PTSD threatened to ruin my relationships with my children and my husband I wrote because it was an outlet into which I could vent my anxieties and frustrations and not spew those venomous thoughts at the people I loved dearly but felt completely disconnected from. When Oliver was sick, when my hundred thousand dollar baby wasn’t meeting milestones properly, was diagnosed as failure to thrive and had surgery scheduled and performed I wrote because it got those thoughts out of my head and into the world where other parents fear and struggle and worry.
But now, I wonder what this next chapter of my life will bring and what the motivation for writing once again will become. I know it won’t be grief and anger and longing because I have largely moved into acceptance and belief that everything does happen for a reason and my reason was greater compassion and understanding. I know it won’t be depression, anxiety, anger and PTSD because aside from some very small moments where a trigger knocks me, I have become calm and centered and mostly at ease with myself, and my list of neurosis and mental instabilities. What will come next will likely unfold only as it happens. The focus has shifted and its a new and unusual situation for me to sit, in front of a laptop which is on it’s last legs, in a new job which has seen me return to work full time doing some very long hours in a very challenging environment, with two children who are blessed in their good health and neurotypical ways, with a husband who continues to be the most supportive and understanding best friend I ever could have hoped for…..
I have no idea what is to come. But I’m ready to take it on, with open arms and sometimes, i might even write about it.
For the first time ever, in the almost three years since he was born into my arms, there is silence. Machines are beeping, other kids are crying, and refusing their medicines. The air conditioner is humming and wheels are rolling across the floor in the nurses station. but from where he is, on his side, fast asleep, there is only silence. This is the first night since he was born that he has slept peacefully. For the first time since he arrived earth side, he doesn’t have his head back, his shoulders arched and his mouth wide open. He is sleeping, and his oxygen levels are amazing. He isn’t tossing, he isn’t crying, he isn’t snoring.
He is just… Asleep. And it’s wonderful.
I feel like I have to post this, as a sort of public safety announcement to anybody who like me, is trying to kill themselves on a semi regular basis in the pursuit of ‘healthy’. (I can’t in good conscience use the world happy here..)
If you should happen to buy a treadmill off eBay for $80 so as to convince both yourself and your husband that this isn’t another passing ‘gonna’ phase, (the ab king pro, the slidey-leg shaper thing, the protein shake diet and the eating dinner at lunch thing.. there are so many..) you might surprise yourself and start to like it. You might start to get up early to get on it before work, and send the kids to bed a little bit early at night so as you can use it before Big Brother starts (What? I’m not totally reformed!) and then you might use it so much that you manage to break it. You might think it was the one time you dared to run on it which finally sounded it’s death knell, but it’s most likely because you spent $80 on a treadmill from eBay…
Don’t make my mistake. Don’t assume when you buy a fancy new treadmill to replace your not at all fancy piece of junk that the speed settings are the same. Because that is how you find yourself on the garage floor, with a little bit of skin missing off one knee, wondering what the hell just happened and how you suddenly learnt to fly.
You can take time to spend with loved ones, you can spend time reading stories, singing songs or just listening to your children laugh. You can make sure that they eat well, that they sleep at a reasonable hour, that they are warm enough, cool enough, stimulated enough, rested enough. You can make sure that other people treat them well, you can make sure they treat themselves well. You can discuss things with them, you can try and educate them about things that matter, about kindness, selflessness and being honest. You can do so much for your kids.
But sometimes you can’t fix them. Sometimes when their hearts are failing, when their kidneys won’t function, when doctors say things like terminal, renal failure, transplant, surgery, incompatible with life, you can’t do anything.
And suddenly it feels as though all that effort you put in, all the things you did right, all the things you did for them, and with them, all the love and sacrifice has been for nothing. Because when you get told your child is dying, that they are sicker than you can even imagine, that their lives will be over before they begin you suddenly learn how to be grateful. You know instantly that treasuring each second is a cliché, and that sometimes it’s brutal and hard and painful and so unfair, but you just keep going and being grateful that in that moment, you saw her eyes. You saw that they were blue, that you saw she had curls and that you felt her fingers wrap around yours. You realise that the time you got to change her nappy and there wasn’t anything there was precious because that was something you won’t have with her again. You understand how some people can choose to walk away when they first hear the diagnosis, and prognosis. You become amazed by the people around you who have never shared your walk before but suddenly are the ones who prop you up. You see beauty in stable sats, you see sunlight through a window and you feel joy because it’s as though the sun rose that day just for you, and just for her. You know that every day is another day of tests and conversations and all you want to do is sleep but you feel so lucky to be having those conversations because it means that she’s still here, that she’s still fighting.
And the silence at the end when you finally go home, is the hardest part of all. Because choosing to stop, to let the fight be over, to give peace and freedom and the ultimate act of heartbreak and love is to let her go, to say no more, and to hold her closely while she slips away for the last time.
And suddenly you know that you are grateful for every second that you had, for the tears because for those days she was here and now she’s gone and there is this empty gap where you know you were lucky to have her but so unlucky to lose her and really, what else even matters now, except that there is a hole, and everyone expects you just to keep carrying on.
And some days, you just can’t.
I’ve hit delete on the first paragraph of this post about ten times so far. The truth is, I don’t know what to say but that’s not to say I don’t have anything to say I just really don’t know where to begin. Again.
My parenting self confidence took a real hit after Lucy was harassed at school. I know that technically, what happened to her was a form of assault but using that word in conjunction with my beautiful daughter just seems too………awful. I still can’t really believe it happened, I still can’t really believe I had no idea. It’s been in the back of my mind, ever since. Every Friday when I send her back to that place where she once felt safe but even now does not, I have a knot in my stomach and I wile away the hours, crossing my fingers and praying she is ok while being all too aware that she might not be.
While the tremendous guilt has been assuaged now, I still feel sad that I missed such an important detail, that I believed so wholeheartedly that she would tell me. Because why wouldn’t she tell me? And I still am anxious about sending her back there every week. I think i’ll probably carry that misstep around with me for some time to come but mistakes are meant to be learnt from and I am trying not to go too far to the other side where I am hyper aware and anxious about mythical scenarios. I’m learning as I go.
Looking back on the past couple of months, it affected Lucy more than I assumed it might, too. She acted out in ways so totally unlike her for many weeks – only now does she seem to be relaxing back into her old self. She made mistakes in the past couple of months and found herself sitting in the principals office being berated for something that was totally her own doing purely because she relished the attention. She learnt a valuable lesson that week about consequences and harmful behaviour and about how past behaviour affects future decisions and possibilities. Lucy’s school hands out behaviour certificates – Bronze is the expected level of behaviour from all students, Silver is a step up and Gold is for consistently self managing their own behaviour. In term one, Lucy earned a Gold certificate and she worked so hard for it. She was so proud, as were we.
Given some of her choices this term, I told her to be prepared for a lower certificate this term – she was devastated, but determined to work harder. Her teacher had asked me what I wanted them to do – did I want them to award her the lower level to make a point? I was very happy to leave it up to her school – it was their call.
They made their decision, and on the second last day of term, this came home with Lucy.
She learnt from her mistakes, too.