I have always been quite an impatient person, always itching to be doing stuff, to be progressing and moving forwards, hating to stand still or wait. It was always “I can’t wait for...”, “if only it was…. already”, “only 4 more weeks until…” just wishing my life away.
Once we decided to start a family it was much the same, at first it was “I can’t wait to get pregnant” and then “I can’t wait to be big enough to wear maternity clothes” and then “I can’t wait for it finally be over I want my body back…” And of course once Little Moo came to join us it was “I can’t wait until we get out of the hospital”, “…until she will finally sleep for more than 2 hours at a time”, “…until I know what it is she wants when she cries”, “…until she can roll over, …until she can crawl, …until she can stand up, …talk, …go to school, …leave home.”
That was until I met an ex-colleague of mine in the supermarket a couple of days ago. After exchanging greetings and introducing her to Little Moo I asked after her children remembering that she had had a little boy about 2 years ago and she told me that he had been diagnosed with leukaemia at 18 months and that the whole family had spent the last 6 months practically living in the hospital. She had only left now to get them all something to eat and was on her way back to keep up the vigil at her sons’ bedside.
I was knocked for six, what you say? What do you do? I felt so horribly guilty standing there with my perfectly healthy child, having just spent a couple of minutes telling her that I was getting quite bored spending so much time alone at home with someone that doesn’t talk. I spent the rest of the shopping trip in a sort of daze, unable to quite believe it and constantly hugging Little Moo tight and counting my blessings that she is healthy and hoping that she will stay that way.
Now, instead of this endless need to look to the future and wish, not just my life anymore, but our lives away concentrating on what we don’t yet have or haven’t yet achieved, I try to look at things we do have. I try to just be grateful for all of us being alive and healthy and spend a little time each day just watching her play and wonder at the miracle that is human life. It is a very bonding experience really to take that time out of your day and just sit for 10 minutes, not thinking about the mess she is making, or the laundry she is creating nor what I am going to cook for dinner but just watching in awe of the speed of learning and the ability to grasp new ideas that these little people have, watching that little squirming ball of instinctive reactions grow and blossom into a real person.
Parents don’t forget, during your day to day lives, between the worries and the work and the chores, to spend a little one on one time with your children and with each other. Not time spent worrying about things, or thinking of other things, or making lists of things that need doing whilst pretending to give them your full attention, but really do it. Stop what you are doing, put other things aside and really concentrate on them.
You’ll be glad that you did.