That lucky 13!
December 13th…. a date forever engraved in my mind. How can I ever forget that Monday morning that changed my life forever…
Five years ago today, at the tender age of two and a half my beautiful daughter Beatrice was diagnosed with High Risk Leukemia. I won’t get into the story of what happened that day, nor the story of her illness because it was all documented on a blog I created just for her. I did this so that she could remember how courageous she was and all that she had been through. It was also very therapeutic for me to get it out of me because the pain of seeing her suffer was literally unbearable. Finally, the blog allowed people close to me to be updated without me having to be tortured by repeating our daily struggles over and over again… going through it once was traumatic enough…
This post is a positive post. It is a post about love, about cherishing every moment with your kids. It’s about taking the time to stop and smell the roses, and watching the butterflies or fairies as they fly by.
When I catch myself telling my daughter to “Just hurry up!”, whether it’s to get to bed, or rushing out the door for an appointment or school, I quickly remind myself of how precious every minute with her is. All too often when we were stuck in the hospital (her treatment lasted almost 3 years), how I wished we could be home doing the “boring” things. Because she was so weak and tired by the illness and the chemo, she had no energy to do what normal 3 year olds do. How I longed to see her jump around, run and scream, and be “annoying”…
I can truly say that I do cherish every moment with her and when I stray.. .Whether it’s wishing I had more time to write my blog posts, or when I feel rushed, I quickly ask myself if I’d rather be in 2010 when I was forced to live each moment to the fullest because I never knew what tomorrow might bring. Certainty no longer existed in my world… That was taken from me, December 13, 2010! I knew all too well, that our lives would never ever be the same.
What really matters!
I went from a busy successful career, to an unemployed stay at home single mom, living off donations ! I quickly found out what was really important in life, and that I could truly be happy with little.. really. I got rid of my 40K truck, avoided stores and became creative when it came to entertain my daughter and bond with her. Forget fancy cars and restaurants, buying clothes, decorating the house, going to the the hairdresser, etc. Getting her back to health, and enjoying life to the fullest were my only priorities. Since then I realized that all we need is health and the rest will follow, because without it… well… your options are limited.
I was never a big spender, not into useless luxuries, but still, I’d spoil myself from time to time. I tell people that, although it was truly the worse time of my life, I had never been happier. No small feat for a naturally anxious mom who worried a lot.
Decluttering my life!
Being in the helping profession, I was always into self improvement and getting my act together, and just like everyone else…. I am always a work in progress and I always have something to work on. Well, the gift of Beatrice’s illness was to teach me to live in the moment, to let go of resentments and of a past that is long gone, the importance of forgiveness to be able to move on, to not spend too much time worrying about a future that doesn’t yet exist, and to clean up shop when it came to relationships that no longer served me. It taught me to appreciate every single moment as a gift because it truly is. You never know how in an instant it can all be taken away, just like that, in the blink of an eye! Trust me.
The gift of patience!
I have always been ambitious professionally and striving to do more, and better my craft and also keep reinventing myself. That has not changed. What has changed is the urgency to get things done, to do more. It has taught me to be patient: all in due time. Sure I get frustrated when I don’t get to the end of my To Do list or reach my goals’ timeline, but I quickly set myself straight, and bring myself to the present moment, and live it fully, in gratitude and acceptance. I constantly have to remember “all in divine timing” and I try to let go of trying to control the outcomes. And finally… when I lose my way, get frustrated or down, I sing to myself the chorus of the song “Unanswered Prayers”, or I repeat this very helpful mantra that has served me well so many times “Man’s rejection is God’s protection”.
(Lyrics that touch me : Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers ; Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs ; That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care; Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers )
I try not to resist what is anymore, you know the “bad” stuff… So it is not that I don’t have all the human emotions and struggles that most of us face.. I have just found a better way to cope with them when they arise. I have tried to start seeing that everything happens for a reason and I wait for the gift to show up. That is a major change for me: my immediate reaction naturally tends to always be anxiety!
It is inevitable that through every tiny or major hurdle lies a gift. Whether it be a better opportunity, catching my daughter’s special moves, bonding more, there is always a silver lining.
What’s the rush?
All this to say that, when we rush we are really chasing the future which has not yet happened and by doing so, we miss out on the beauty and the gift of this present moment. And if we don’t cherish that present moment, it is forever lost. So we need to live NOW. We need to slow down.
Before you know it your child will grow up and many things they do now will be gone forever due to the mere fact that they are maturing. And then… you will look back with nostalgia or regret. All too often parents can’t wait for their kids to walk and be independent, but with independance come distance. They no longer want to snuggle, they no longer need your help, they slowly but surely need you less and less. This is why, to be able to let go, you truly need to cherish all these mundane moments as they arise because in their simplicity they are special because they are fleeting, and quickly pass you by.
So slow down… Instead of rushing the bedtime and morning routines, grant them more time. Allow children to be their natural selves, which is to live each moment as they arise (as we should) mindfully, playfully, full of awe with the simplest things. As a result, there will be less nagging, less screaming, less arguing, less repeating for compliance because they will have had the time to live fully at their pace, not yours. And when it is time to go, time to sleep, they will be ready…
Slowing down and being a participant in their lives instead of a referee will also bring you closer. And there is nothing more important than the parent-child bond. Love is truly at the core of a healthy relationship.
It is us that need to slow down. WE have lost our way and forgotten what is important in life. We need to see the world through children’s eyes, and hear the message they are attempting to pass on : “simple is better; now is what counts”.
When we slow down, we can truly learn from our children by simply being a witness of how they approach life and get back to that state from where we come from, but have forgotten our natural state. They know how to be mindful, they know what living life fully means, they know the importance of the present moment… we are the ones who need to learn these skills once again. And once we do, life will be so much more pleasant!
To read about Beatrice’s journey and mine, click on this link.