I intended to write a blog post about this on or around Kitty’s birthday but I just didn’t have the chance.  It’s been that kind of a year.  Those who know me, or are friends on Facebook, will be intimately acquainted with the awfulness that I and my family have been facing.  At least most of it.  For those that don’t, I will write it all down as succinctly as possible.

It started on New Years Eve.  I came home from a holiday to find a letter about our Down’s screening.  As we’d not had a phone call, I knew the results would be low risk and, even though I know that they are just odds and not a positive or negative result, I was expecting a reassuring number.  I got 1 in 267.  Okay, those aren’t massive odds but in some places 1 in 250 is considered high and Kitty’s risk was 1 in 7000 so 1 in 267 was a bucket of cold water.  This combined with arguing with my parents over their need to move closer to us and the stress of trying to buy a property ourselves was enough to send me into a & e with palpitations.  My heart was fine and the down’s fears were soon to prove the least of my troubles.  In February both my father and my father in law were admitted into hospital, within two weeks, we had lost them both.  My husband and I inherited the care of my mother who was significantly more unwell than we had been lead to believe and who started drinking heavily after losing my Dad.  We were left trying to plan for care and home help while working through my Dad’s affairs which were far more complicated than they should have been all while expecting our second child.  Over the course of the following months my daughter was taken into a & e three times, twice after falling accidents (I may have overreacted but given what we were going through, who could blame me?) and breathing difficulties, thanks to a nasty virus that landed her on a nebuliser.  My husband also ended up in the hospital after getting his hand caught in a machine at work and had to have reconstructive surgery.  Our girl dog suffered some kind of seizure from which she did not recover and our boy dog suffered such catastrophic age related nerve degeneration that the vet recommended that we put him to sleep too.  My mother had a series of falls which resulted in a lot of emergency trips down to see her, twice involving the door being broken in and she was eventually admitted into hospital herself with a fractured pelvis.  My son eventually arrived healthy but two weeks early, just in time for us to coordinate Mum’s move into warden lead accommodation.  Phew.  There are four months left of 2017,  I shudder to think what they may have in store.

As you can imagine, I’ve learned a lot of things, not all of them about being a parent:

 

  1. You can do it.  If you have to, you can.  The moment that you think you can’t cope anymore comes right before the moment when you discover that you can and will soldier through.  This is true of childbirth, parenting and any number of other things that life can throw at you.
  2. Children make you carry on.  You may want to sit on the sofa, chain drink tea and watch crap on TV but you can’t, so you don’t and your children will force you to put one foot in front of the other.
  3. You can shut down your emotions, but not forever.  My husband has done a lot of the stressful legwork and paperwork associated with probate, power of attorney and house moves.  He’s needed me to be calm and stable for him,  my kids have needed me to be calm and stable for them and I have managed it most of the time.  Sometimes I can’t, no one can, carrying the emotional burdens of a family on your own is impossible.  You have to accept that.
  4. You need a lot less sleep than you think you do.  I said that last year but it stands true even more so now.
  5. Things can always get worse but you can handle it.   The really awful things help you to see the less awful things in a new light. That’s not to say that they won’t hurt, and you never know what might be the straw that broke the camel’s back but it will be okay.  You will always find a reason to smile if you look for it.
  6. When times get tough you have to give yourself a little breathing room and acknowledge that you are not perfect.  You may burst into tears publicly or lose your temper at your kids, these are things that normal flawed people will do when they are under duress.  It doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you human.  I remind myself of this whenever I fall short of my own expectations.
  7. People can be wonderful.  There will always be help offered, the biggest trouble you may face is accepting it.  I feel guilty when I ask for help.  I feel like I’m putting on people, I am, as my mother-in-law would say, ‘a bugger for that’.  But knowing that people care enough to offer can be enough to brighten a dark moment.
  8. It is important to remember that others have their problems too.  Never, ever forget that other people also suffer.  Thinking that you are the only one going through this is a dark place to be in and an incredibly selfish perspective to take.  If you can prevent yourself from wallowing and remember to look outwards and think of others, you will feel better, I promise.
  9. Silence is golden.  The modern world is full of chatter.  It’s easy to spend your time browsing the internet or flicking from channel to channel but, in many ways, that is just as overwhelming as anything else that life can throw at you.  Silence is restorative.  Lack of stimulation can be heaven.  Let yourself breathe from time to time.
  10. It is important to take some time for you.  Whatever it is that you need to do to feel more like yourself,  whether that involves taking care over your appearance, reading a book or, like me, right now, writing a blog post, take the time to do it whenever you can.  It’s not selfish, it’s sane.

 

Lessons need to be learned and relearned, I’m just about to read last year’s post to remind myself of what I should already know.  Knowing does not make it working practice.  Knowing is a good first step though.  I think I now know quite a bit.

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