It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
How much can a life change in a day? In an hour? In a minute? I'll preface this by saying that I love my life. I really couldn't have it any better at the moment. All I want is a sea kayak for Christmas ;) That's the extent of my materialism right now. I also don't take my life or my health for granted and I do already try to make the most of every day and accept that there are ups and downs. It's taken 31 years (and a really crap 2009) before in 2010 I seem to have started to become the person that I want to be. My children are healthy, happy and I love 'em to bits. My marriage has reached such a sweet loving stage after nearly four years. I am married to my best mate and although I know he would want me to say he prefers to be my 'luvvvaaah', it's easy to have that. It's a lot harder to have a best friend to see you through thick and thin.
So Friday morning we all got a bit of a shock when we found out my father in law is ill. Terminally ill. How quickly the world comes crashing down around you. To see the man you love (who doesn't often get emotional) start to waver in his voice when speaking to his dad, telling him to stay positive. In a process of grief, we both went into 'organisational mode' (completely typical of me!), booking flights back to the UK where his entire family lives. I suggested that he take Amber with him as well as she has known him for 8 years and she needs to say goodbye. Very very sadly Charlie has only met him once and even more sadly, he will probably never see him again. But he is a baby and he will not know the difference. So my hubby and Amber will be spending a month there with him over Christmas and New Year. A bittersweet reunion.
Perhaps it is when you become a parent that you become aware of your own mortality, and that of your child of course. How vulnerable you become, to know that this being that came from you and that you have nurtured could be taken away from you. I am sure I am not the only parent that has nightmares of something happening to their babies. How invincible we all think we are as teenagers, and there were many scrapes I had during those formative years where I was very lucky to come out alive and kicking (horse riding is dangerous, wear a seatbelt, don't get in a car with a driver that's been drinking, don't sleep at stranger's houses...). Now at the ripe old age of 31, I've got a healthy dose of my own mortality and all I wish for is to be alive until my youngest becomes an adult. Seriously, that's my number one goal. Don't care about being rich, don't care about having the latest clothes or accessory or car, don't care that I don't live in a big house on the ocean. I want my kids to be healthy as long as possible, and I want to be on this Earth to see them become adults.
And this is where it becomes full circle as I see my own children grow and develop. My son Toby (9) is going through a new phase in his life. 2010 seems to have been Toby's year as well. After floundering for the past couple of years, I can finally see his character coming out and I have glimpses of the man he will be. After saying he wanted to do gymnastics for about a year, I got my arse into gear and looked into it. He started once a week in a beginner's class and I sat there bursting with pride watching him on the rings, on the high bar, on the parallel bars. Just taking everything in his stride. He was soon put up into the Advanced boys class and continued to do well. Then too many boys joined up and so they decided to open an Intermediate class, into which Tobes went. He is the best in the class but I thought it would be good for him to boost his confidence for a while as he was obviously never as good as the Advanced boys who had been doing it for years and years.
Well on the same day we had this horrible news about my father in law, Toby's coach came over to me at his lesson and made me the happiest parent on the planet. Yes Toby was very good, yes Toby could be a state champion, yes Toby was going to go back into the Advanced class and compete in a higher level next year. All good. But this lovely Japanese man said something to me that just made me want to laugh and cry at the same time. He pointed to his head and said, 'Toby's greatest asset: he has strong mind'. I don't know - that was just the most amazing thing to say to a mum, and I am so proud of Toby for having a strong mind. As a parent, that is one thing that I would always want for my child. He does seem to have a strength there now. Only a couple of years ago, he would give up easily when something got 'too hard' and now he relishes a challenge. After doing ridiculously well on the NAPLAN testing (not that I believe in standardised testing but I'm proud he did so well), his teacher has put him in advanced Maths and Language classes. He is growing up so quickly and very soon I will have to let go...
Meanwhile my baby Charlie is not so much a baby anymore and wow it is just going way too quickly. I can still smell his newborn smell, feel the weight of his 3 month old body in my arms, see his little 'pig faced' laugh at one year. Now we are almost past the tantrums and looking forward to his 3rd birthday in just a few short weeks. He is my cheeky little poggy that I just want to eat alive! He is so cute! And yes I am biased. I am enjoying this time with him soooo much and I'm so very grateful to have this wonderful career that allows me to stay at home with him during these first few years, while still being able to work and stimulate my mind and creative vision. Every wedding I am able to see people experiencing one of the most memorable days in their lives, seeing family and friends come together, seeing joy and laughter and tears and memories being formed.
So here's to LIFE and experiencing as much as possible in the time we each have...