I was truly grateful this weekend. My husband and I had our 8th child-free night in 10 1/2 years. We thought we might be be paying the price this week, and we were right.
My little boy moved up to Cubs after Christmas. Almost immediately we signed him up for a Cub Camp as he was keen to go. It was his first time away without any family. We were a bit blase about this as our daughter has now spent many nights without us. We knew he’d be tired, but yesterday morning’s performance was something to behold.
Our daughter had two late nights. After going to Scouts on Friday, she had a sleepover with a friend on Saturday. I slept until 10.45 on Sunday morning. She and I rowed a number of times after we picked her up, and she even had an argument with her Dad, which is unusual. We were so grateful to be able to go out for a meal without having to get the children in bed beforehand, and not to be disturbed the next morning. But is it worth the price we have to pay afterwards?
Yesterday I went to a funeral. It was for a 2-year-old boy. It was a beautiful service, but not something I feel any parent should ever have to go through, whatever the age of their child. In the grand scheme of things, we expect our parents to die before we do. My Grandma lost her daughter-in-law and her daughter within 8 months of each other. I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been for her. But at least they were adults, and had both had had the opportunity to have their own children.
Losing your own child must be incredibly painful. I am grateful that I haven’t had to experience this – and I pray that it is not something I will have to in the future. I am also grateful for my religious beliefs. They have taught me that when we die, we go to the spiritual world and live useful lives there. I believe that this little boy will now be in heaven, being looked after by angels who loved children when they lived as people in this world. He will grow up without the constrictions of a physical body, feeling loved and blessed.
When a tragedy such as this happens, it is normal for us to examine our own feelings. Yesterday, I couldn’t help punishing myself for the way I sometimes feel about my children. The fact that I was so grateful for having a night away from them felt abhorrent when the reality is that families who lose children would do anything to have them back. I was sitting in the funeral thinking about the “reasonable discussion” my little boy and I had on the drive that morning. We had spent ten minutes debating the necessity for wearing a helmet whilst cycling to school. Could I have been nicer? I’m sure I could.
The friend I was sitting with helped me realise that this is part of normal family life. We can’t all be nice to each other every minute of every day. If we were, our children would have a nasty shock once they reached the workplace! I would be rich if I had £1 for every time someone at work has been rude to me. (I was a secondary teacher for 7 years 🙂 .)
Wearing a helmet on your bike is non-negotiable. Whatever language I couch it in, this is something I am not going to give in to. And if I did give in every time the children wanted something that I didn’t feel was safe or appropriate, what would I be teaching them?
My feeling now is that it is no bad thing to examine our family relationships – and be grateful for them. It may encourage us to make small changes in the way we deal with each other. But punishing ourselves for not giving them everything they want isn’t necessary. We can just try to be a little kinder in the way we express it.
What are you grateful for?
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