I should be in bed, it’s past midnight, and I am planning on being out the door tomorrow morning (with my face and a good gúna on) by 7, because I’m speaking at a conference tomorrow at 9.30am.
I couldn’t end the day, however, without acknowledging something that happened earlier, and is, actually, still happening on my FB page.
A bit of background: It irks me that my children are stoic. Now, don’t get me wrong, I really don’t want a pair of moaning minnies for whom nothing is ever right, and everything is always the worst (insert issue here) ever. At the same time, though, I have often felt compelled to remind them that they are still only minors, and they don’t need to deal with everything by themselves, and if something goes wrong – or even looks like it might go wrong – they are to talk to me about it. I’ve also mentioned to them more than once that if they are in pain, they need to tell me that too, because pain is never ‘normal’. I think that if my eldest had bothered to tell me how much pain she was in on a daily basis, her coeliac disease might have been diagnosed (years) sooner, for example.
Anyway, on more than one occasion, friends have pointed out that I’m not exactly a moaning minnie myself, and maybe that’s where my children get it from. One or two have said things like ‘Well, that’s not something they licked off the walls’, and one or two even blunter friends have said ‘What do you expect? You’re pretty bloody stoic yourself!!’
I don’t think of myself as stoic, though, and that might be part of the problem. Children, I know, don’t do as we say, they do as we do. There is no point in telling my children that a certain course of action is the healthiest one, if I then deliberately and obviously choose another course of action myself.
I don’t want my children to think that they must handle everything that comes their way quietly – even if they are able to do so superbly.
So, today, in an attempt to model the behaviour I want my girls to emulate, I posted on FB that one of them is booked in for surgery in a few weeks. I explained that it’s (relatively) minor, she has a great surgeon, and it’s only going to be under for an hour. She’ll be out, and on her way home, about four hours afterwards. The bit that bothers me is the general anaesthetic; my girl in that liminal state between life and death frightens me. I know it’s not rational, but I’m not operating out of my academic, logical, rational brain – I’m operating out of my Mammy Brain. I asked for support. I asked for a volunteer to come and sit with me while my baby is in surgery, and I’m knitting and pretending to be nonchalant.
I didn’t get one response. I got more than twenty. More than twenty people contacted me to say that they would gladly come and sit with me for a few hours. Others with small babies offered to have me come to them (because a hospital – full of sick people – is no place for a small child), but I know I won’t leave the building until my baby is leaving it with me. Still more contacted me from overseas to say that they would be there in a heartbeat if there weren’t seas and mountains and deserts between us.
Now, I have a support person and stand-by support people, and people offering to do shifts, and people offering to pop in to see me on their lunch breaks and have coffee with me and my support person…..truly, I feel so very, very blessed and humbled. Save for my girls, I have no (non-abusive) family members, so the fact that people who aren’t obliged to show up for me – literally and figuratively – are willing to do so makes me realise how lucky I am, and how fortunate I am to be surrounded by people who choose to give me their time and love.
That is what I want to model to, and for, my girls. I want them to not just hear me say that there is no shame in asking for help, I want them to see me ask for for help; and not be ashamed to ask for it, and to accept it with Grace and Gratitude.