Something we don’t talk about …that having children has both its ups and its down-sides.
I’m also not just-saying-this when I say the ups far outweigh the downs. I realise these are clichés, but they are clichés for a reason… I love the fun, the laughter, the added enjoyment that only a child’s perspective can bring to the world (‘Mummy, I’ve been thinking…’) and I would not be without them. The downsides though – not just the lack of sleep that my already parent-ed friends dangled in front of me as I was pregnant with Emma – but the sheer miracle of getting showered and dressed in the early days, to the never reading a paper to the end like I used to, to sometimes just not being able to hear myself think… should not be forgotten, put aside as ‘they don’t matter’, because they do matter and they make you who you are. You still need time, just sometimes, to fit these things back into your life.
The ups and downs with Alex are, unsurprisingly, a little more polarised. The ups are monumental, not only his hard-won achievements, but also the little things from him that mean so much – his ability to put his arms up to be picked up, his hysterical giggling as you once again try to imitate a lion, the fact that he can pick up and drink from his own cup – these are all small miracles. With Alex, these ups also extend outwards, outside of our immediate circle. With small exceptions the NHS has been a wonder. Until, one after the other, his appointments moved from weekly to monthly to annual as one by one everyone looked at the floor and said, ‘We have no idea what is wrong with your son, we have done all the tests we can’, they worked their hardest to figure our little boy out. On a day to day basis his support team (who I’m fairly sure, gathered together, could turn out their own football 11) work hard with limited resources and dwindling budgets to both progress Alex and alleviate the trickier parts of our life, the parts we hadn’t expected when we said we’d try for another baby, the parts you wouldn’t normally think would be tricky. I give you: eating out as a family outside of the house… getting him into his car seat without breaking my back…
Lastly, the kindness in people that he elicits is something I can never quite get over. This includes you all. You have all done it. When Alex smiles, people smile with him, it is infectious. People help me with doors to move his overly-large pram around, they pick up his toys and help me with his coat when we are out… people rarely stare. People wait for us to catch up, we are not left behind. He slows our life down, but the kindness that envelops us because of this… it goes a long way to make up for it.
However, the downsides… events this weekend have highlighted these and it would be wrong of me not to voice them. We could all drop dead any minute, that’s a fact, but we probably won’t. Alex… well, in my more rational moments, I don’t think he will either, he’s a robust little boy, not prone to hospital stays and good God I am grateful, so grateful for this. But when he gets ill, he gets ill, and he takes longer to kick it than he should. A cold that takes Emma three days to get over? It takes Alex two weeks. This condition he has, that makes him who he is, this genetic anomaly with no name. Who’s to say where it will take him? Who knows what and how long this journey will be? And these thoughts can sideswipe me sometimes. Most times they stay neatly in the box marked ‘Too scary to worry about’, but just occasionally they creep out, catch me unawares and when they do… my little boy cannot move for being cuddled, for being told how much I love him. For he is who he is, a tricky little bundle, but one I can never imagine not being a part of our life.
Right Mum, where are we off to today?