In a couple of weeks I will be 44
Yes - hard to believe isn't it!!! I don't know what I imagined my life to be like at 44 but there are a lot of things I did not expect it to be like. While I knew I would proably have more than the average number of children, I did not expect to have two with additional needs. I expected to start slowing down, not speeding up, I did not expect to be still changing nappies or carrying children around or making up milk feeds, I certainly did not expect to be performing the sort of medical procedures that I do day in day out, or needing the mental agility required to defuse an autistic meltdown before it becomes full strength, I expected to be working part time and reducing my hours, not working all the hours god sends for no money, I definitely expected to have slightly more disposable income ....
But on my journey to get to this unexpected stage in my life, there have been three separate pieces of wisdom given to me which have stuck and become my mantra for keeping it all together when it seemed my world was falling apart.
#1 - I was working at Hewlett Packard and had reached a cross roads in my career - stay in the safe, secure role or move into a more risky but more exciting role? Chatting it through with a good friend she said "if you want it enough, you will make it happen, if you don't you will make an excuse". Those words have stuck with me like glue, they are my philosophy for life, they are my measure for everything I do. (I took the exciting, more risky role by the way).
#2 - I took up yoga in 1996 when I was pregnant with my Theo. I have stayed with it over the years, sometimes going to classes, sometimes practising on my own. I have met many great yoga teachers over this time and since January I have been working with a fantastic local teacher. Yoga has given me time to switch off and nurture my mind, I know when I practice it regularly it helps me deal with the stresses of my life. The words of my first yoga teacher have remained with me and ring in my ears at those times when I just can't be bothered to get up and exercise "you are rarely physically tired but you can be mentally tired". Remembering those words when I have got up in the morning after an awful night with Daisy and thought that I could not face the day let alone getting out of the house for a run I have found energy and vitality I did not think I had, it truly is mind over matter when it comes to making the effort to exercise and the biggest barrier is that little voice in your head saying you are too tired.
#3 - Daisy was born by caesarian section, my first after 3 normal births. I had developed a condition called polyhydroamnios when I was pregnant with her which meant I had too much amniotic fluid and although she was born nearly 2 months prematurely I was the size of a house with all the extra fluid. This coupled with a lengthy stay in neonates and then subsequent stays in hospital meant that I did not get back into shape post-pregnancy as I had with my other 3. My hip and back seized up and I could barely move and the doctor referred me to a physio. She pointed out to me that "looking after a child with additional needs I would need the strength and stamina of a manual labourer". She was right, I work long hours, I carry heavy loads constantly bending, lifting, carrying - to keep going I would need to ensure I was up to the task physically.
So over the years I have ensured that I am in the right place mentally and physically to face the challenges life has thrown at me and these three mantras have become the philosphy for how I live and why I have chosen to take control and get my groove back.
Just 6 months ago we made the decision to manage as much of Daisy's care at home and to keep her out of hospital. There is no cure for Daisy's condition and all focus is on her quality of life with all care being palliative. I wrote at the time that this decision to minimise hospital stays and focus on her quality of life for the time she has was really liberating, it meant that we were not living with false hope, we were being realistic and just embracing the time we have together. (A new phase begins ).
During those 6 months I have made huge changes in my life that being home as a family at last has enabled me to do. I lost the last bit of baby weight that was still clinging on, I went back to regular yoga classes in order to reinvigorate my practice, I began to write more and more and to raise the profile of my blog through networking with other bloggers and I started to run again.
I had kept meaning to get back out running but I was always finding an excuse not too, then those three mantras came back to me - was I making an excuse? was I really tired or was it that little voice again? if I didn't get fit would I be up to the task of looking after Daisy? So one cold, wet, miserable day in January I walked Jules to school then I started to run, and I ran for three miles and loved it. I figured that if I could get out on the worst day of the year, when I was tired and the weather was rubbish then I would have no excuse if all the conditions were at their best.
I now run around 25 miles a week, fitting it around the children and Andy means sometimes its early in the morning, sometimes its late at night but I will not miss a run now, it's my time, no phone just me, my music and the fresh air - my time to get my head together away from the chaos at home.
So suprisingly, when on the surface it would seem that my world is pretty dire; we are now going through the statementing process for Theo as he struggles with the darker influences of his Aspergers and they impact on his ability to access education, as Daisy's bladder continues to fail and her colon has become inflammed again - I am feeling good about life.
Yes life has dealt me some crappy cards but I am not going to take it lying down, I'm going to face it head on and show it what I'm made of. That's why every birthday is a cause for a celebration - I'm still here, all my children are still here, I've lived another year and I'm coming back for more!
This year my birthday falls on a Sunday - in the morning Daisy has been invited to a Princesses Party at Hamleys in London, then while she goes for a sleepover at our hospice, Andy and I are going out with friends, taking in the Damien Hirst exhibition at the Tate Modern then indulging in a few Mojitos on the Southbank. I cannot predict what the next twelve months of my life will bring, the odds on it being trauma free are not good, but I am determined to be mentally and physically prepared for whatever is to come, even if it means that to the outside world I am a swan, serenely gliding through life, while paddling like hell below the water.
This post is part of the Groovy Mums blog hop, for more info on how you too can be a groovy mum have a look at http://kateonthinice.wordpress.com/how-to-be-a-groovy-mum/