Sitting in our little play room (a once dining room that has now been overtaken with toys) on my third cup of a coffee on a grey Monday morning I watched a little girl excitedly get into another fancy dress costume – which she can proudly put on without any help – and a little boy play with cars on the play table that we made him for Christmas. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I sat on the sofa because sometimes life can be overwhelming.
I know what I have – two beautiful, healthy (apart from doing their bit to ensure that they are ill for months on end over the winter), happy children who live in a safe and secure home – shielded from the worries their parents have about how to pay the bills and whether our landlord will serve us notice at any given time. I have a devoted husband and a close family. We have our health. We are alive.
I know I have taken a rare opportunity to start my own charity from my own idea. I know there are lots of people out there who would love to do the same and I am lucky to have been given the chance and had the confidence to take it. The evening job I have pays for the childcare needed to run the charity – but such is life and it won’t be forever.
There are people, some of whom read this blog, who don’t agree with what I’ve done with starting First Days and have made their feelings clear about the fact that we’ve had children before we’ve bought a house. I know that any tiredness or frustration I feel – according to them – should be sucked up: we’ve made our unkempt, whimsical, irresponsible bed and now we must lie in it.
That’s not really how life works though is it? Life to me is about living in community with other humans. It is about making the most of what we’ve all got and have to give. It’s something we can build and grow. It’s about sharing the times that overwhelm and frustrate and upset and in turn delighting in the happy times too. So I sat watching my children play – a rare moment of calm in the house – and reached out to my Facebook friends about how frustrated I felt about my children being ill for weeks and weeks meaning I am behind with work. Almost immediately my lovely friends reached back with the kindest words, true empathy and encouragement. I felt reassured and less lonely. Then two lovely friends turned up with coffee for me (oh how I love coffee) and chatted to me for hours (oh how I love chatting) and my Grandad came and took Joni out for cake and juice to give Wilbur a couple of peaceful hours at home. I know how lucky I am. That is what life is about for me – not about achievements or property or comparing ourselves to others (not easy) but about sharing the good and bad and average times together, as people who strive to be kind and to love one another.
I can’t have everything, that belief we are fed as children that if we get a good education and ‘do the right things’ then life will be ok is a blatant misrepresentation of the truth. The truth, however – that life can be messy, disappointing, brilliant, joyful, happy and sad all once – is far more beautiful and far more fulfilling.
I’m constantly reminded of my favourite quote of all time – that my husband had made into a picture for me (above) and I’m so thankful to the people who are in my community, to whom my life belongs.
So, even if my son pulls my laptop off a table and smashes it in a chicken pox and temperature fuelled rage (as has happened today) and I take to social media to moan/cry please know that I am reminding myself of this: ‘nobody has everything – but what we have is a lot’ and by doing so clawing my way out of my pity party for one.