The moment came and the school bell tolled at the end of term. With boxing gloves in each hand, I heard my coach shout over the furore of the crowd. I was ready. The referee called us to the centre of the ring as I excitedly bounced on my tiptoes keen to begin. Finally, I lifted my head to see my opponent. My breath caught in my throat, looming above me large and overwhelming stood….The Summer Holidays.
How on earth was I going to tackle this monstrosity of expectations and practical responsibilities? Suddenly my earlier training seemed feeble and I felt ill-equipped. My boxing gloves sat limp on my hands until I brought to the forefront of my mind my mantra.
“My family is not the same as everyone else’s”
Suddenly my huge opponent shrunk in size as my expectations shifted. I realised a boxing match was not going to fix this. I needed to change tack. Here’s what I found out.
The six weeks holidays (that’s 54 days or 1296 hours) isn’t just a large expanse of time but a stream of moments. Good, bad and ugly moments but all small, manageable and defined moments. So I took each one as they came and had a, mostly, fantastic time.
Let me share with you some of my moments.
I experienced moments of beauty. As I gazed along the stunning North Antrim coastline, the dramatic peaks of the Lake District and the gorgeous faces of my boys.
Moments of fun. Laughing until tears stained my face as we stayed up late with old friends, talking and acting the fool, until long past bedtime. Then came the inevitable moment of realisation. It seems I’m not as young as I used to be and still have to get up through the night to care for my son.
My moment of embarrassment came when one summers day I was walking along the pavement of a local retail park when I felt a gentle tickle on my left calf. Time seemed to slow as, glancing behind me, I spotted yesterday’s knickers by my feet. My mind whirred with what I should do next. I was just about to keep walking and pretend nothing had happened when I imagined a passer-by shouting,
“Excuse me, love, you dropped this.”
I visualised the look of horror on the unsuspecting Joe-public, as he picked up my dirty underwear. No, I had no option. With the skill of a Ninja warrior, I swept down to remove my already worn knickers from the public footpath. With crimson cheeks, I frantically stuffed my briefs into my handbag and made a mental note not to get them out when paying for new trainers.
There were also plenty of moments of frustration caused by inaccessible places, a screaming son and incessant tasks to be undertaken. But also, we revelled in moments of madness. Including taking Sam across a river via stepping-stones (there are some things you only do once). Then the moments of exhaustion came as we dragged a little boy, in a Hippocampe, up some hills. Finished off by the moment of satisfaction and accomplishment, making the views even sweeter.
As ever, the briefest moments of envy jolted me as I noticed the difference in my two boys. How complicated it is to care for a child with complex needs and how easy it is to parent his younger brother.
I rested in many moments of joy. These included from falling asleep on the beach with my son in my arm’s, to sitting around the campfire and toasting marshmallows creating moments of feeling like the real me.
sunset momentOur summer was bursting with moments….
Blackberries, Camping, Screaming, Lifting, Sleeplessness, Joy, Friends, Beauty, Fires, Views, Limitations, Sunsets, Frustrations, Beaches, Tears, Owls, Family, Runs, Walks, Swims, Sun and Rain.
Many I loved and some I didn’t. But taking each moment at a time made the Summer Holidays do-able.
Most of all, these moments made my memories.
My book, ‘The Skies I’m Under, tells you many of the moments that made me into the mum that I am when my beautiful son was born with severe cerebral palsy. You can buy it on Amazon, Google play/ books.
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