You may have noticed that there has been a significant deficit of blogs lately. I'm not sure why to be honest. I mean I have some ideas, but nothing concrete. Life has been crazy. This year we decided to allow the kids to take part in more than one afterschool activity. Normally because we have 4 children we limit it to one activity per kid. Perhaps I was sniffing glue this year, or guilt got to me, because we said "yes" to way to many activities. Grace is attending an arts program high school in the city, and we have to drive her 15 minutes twice a day to meet her bus. That doesn't sound like a big deal, until you begin to add that up, 15 minutes each trip is half an hour round trip for me, double that and it's an hour a day in the car to drop her off and pick her up. Add to that the 45 minute drive one way on the days that she misses her bus, for you math wizards that's an hour round trip for me. Grace has choir once a week and that means a trip into the city to get her. In a week that amounts to 6 and a half hours in the car just for one child. Tuesdays and Thursdays Riley and Rowan have jazz band which means that they don't come home until 6, so that's a 6:30 dinner Tuesdays and Thursdays. Elly really wanted to do gymnastics, so we put her in the tumbling class that coincides with the end of Grace's choir, so only one trip to Belleville, but we don't get home on those nights until 7. Every other Thursday Riley has guitar lessons, which we are lucky enough to have at the house, but they are right after jazz band so I have to feed her as she walks in the door or she doesn't eat until 7:30. Rowan wanted to try house league hockey this year, and he's loving it. It's in another town 20 minutes away and alternates Thursday nights and Friday nights. Did I mention that Elly has skating on Mondays? Add in to all of that my school commitments a week at the school for book fair, planning a festive lunch, and planning a talent show and my life has been a mess. Man I am getting exhausted just typing all of that, never mind living it.
This year we over scheduled. It did not seem like a big deal when you looked at it per child, but added up it was too much. I will NEVER do this again, it's taken years off of my life. More importantly it made me lose perspective. We just wrapped up Christmas, a time of year that is so difficult for our family. It's that razor thin balancing act between giving the kids the Christmas / memories they deserve, and mourning their big brother who died Christmas Eve 2008. This year I threw myself into making this a wonderful Christmas, mainly out of guilt. We could not afford to do our usual Christmas traditions (mainly because of all of the extra curricular activities), and I had jam packed my own schedule so much in the month leading up to Christmas that I did not have breathing room to think about Christmas. The first week of Christmas Break was magical for the kids, I worked really hard, the second week I relaxed and enjoyed my kids, taking a much needed break from "doing", and a much deserved time of "just loving them".
We are nearly half way through January and that Christmas Break feels like eons ago already. We are back into the crazy routine, and now our house has been hit with a stomach bug. I will be honest, I was sitting here feeling sorry for myself when I read a post a friend had shared on facebook, it is a post I have seen before, but that I really needed to re-read today.
I know this, and yet in all of the stress I forgot it. I know how precious these children are, I just had a moment of temporary insanity. I know that life is not a given, it's fragile we do not know how many days we have on this earth, even for 9 year old boys. I know how it feels to torture myself about my inadequacies as a mother knowing that with Gabe I can never ever make it up. He is the reason that I try to make every day count. He is the reason that I don't care if in our retirement Christopher and I have to eat cat food. Our children did not ask to be born, they were a gift, a gift that we dearly wanted. When the kids are adults they won't look back at their childhoods and congratulate their father and I for having all of the bills paid on time. They won't look at us snuggly nestled in our designer living room and congratulate us for saving so well for our retirement. I can only hope that when they look back on their childhood they will see our sacrifice. I hope that they look back at our family adventures and traditions and smile and hopefully laugh. If we can accomplish that then we have lived a good life, better than any amount of money in the bank.
In 1995 there was this amazing movie called "Powder". There was a particular scene that stood out for me. I tried to attach the clip itself, but for some reason I couldn't. I have included a link to it. Do yourself a favour and click it, or rent the movie.
In the scene the boy with this amazing power touches a deer that is dying, shot by hunters, and then touches the hunter. He is able transfer the feeling of death from the dying deer to the hunter. This is very dramatic, but I wish that I could have this ability, if only for a second. I would like to transfer the feeling of grief and despair and the inability to make things right for your child that I feel, if only for a few seconds to other parents. If they could feel this, if only for a second then they would re-order their lives and make their children priorities over money, over things. You would never look at your life the same way.
To my facebook friend who re-posted the beautiful poem "Slow Down Mummy", thank you. I needed that reminder. I needed to remember what is important in life, in all of the chaos I had forgotten for a minute. To my friends who are blessed enough to have never experienced the nightmarish loss of a child, please take every single day for the gift that it is. I know it is easier some days than others. Take my advice on this, it is much easier to sleep at night knowing what you did right with your children than it is lying awake at night beating yourself up for what you did wrong.