During a long car journey with some family members a while ago the question came up of what job we had done that we are most proud of. I didn’t have to give it much thought, my answer – having my children, being a mum.
Apart from the fact that our three kids are wonderful adults who have all found wonderful partners, one reason I have found this so rewarding is that we didn’t have an easy ride. That sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it?
As small children each of my kids had to deal with serious illnesses, not all life-threatening, but serious nevertheless and at times requiring invasive medical intervention. It was difficult to negotiate these times – telling a 5 year old she could die from her illness, and five years later telling her little brother he was to undergo an operation to save her life, and later again taking their brother for a series of operations for a serious infection in his leg, the first an emergency, late on the Christmas Eve of that year. A Christmas the joy of which faded through sheer exhaustion.
I will never forget one evening as we were, again, talking about life and death, and our youngest child, then just 5 years old asked his sister, if you die, can I have your Pound Puppy? It was not a question that brought us to shock and horror, it was the innocence and naturalness of his question that was so wonderful so that we were able to laugh and draw close as we talked. As a small child, of course he reduced death to something tangible, something to remember his sister by, something important enough not to let go to waste. I remember that time with pride, with joy, with grace, because it is not every child, not every family, that talks about death and life like this. To sit at the dinner table talking about the preciousness of life, the finality of death and the journey in between.
Those years as a young mother are years that will forever live inside me. Not the grief any longer, but the opportunity for growth, the challenge of negotiating life in a way that defied the norm.
Those experiences are the kind that you wouldn’t, as they say, wish on your worst enemy, but they are experiences a jot of which I would not change … for anything … because I know that they shaped each of us into the people we are today.
I believe that families choose each other to learn from each other, to teach each other, to give and receive support and love and guidance as we traverse those lessons, that we are soul groups who choose to spend our lives together, and the five of us certainly chose a wild ride!
Other little souls passed our way, calling my body home for a short while, but it was not their journey to stay with us, instead, going their own way and giving way to the constellation of our family of five, to share this life as family and friends, with so much history, and so much future.
I am grateful for the choices of heart and soul that brought us together in this life. To have been with each other in the best and the worst of what life brings.
To have been able to grow together in this life, and, in turn, to bring other people into it through choice of partners, to all share in the fun and laughter of adulthood.