Today started off as a usual day under level 4 restrictions due to COVID-19 in Melbourne on a Sunday. The biggest thing I was to do was go for a run.
I got up went downstairs, opened up my phone and my daughter had sent a little excerpt of a home video and it provoked a few emotions. It was of Archie around 4 upset that Santa didn’t look at his list, that Santa gave him nothing off his list. On the list was a PW50, a child’s motorbike. Archie was about 4 or 5. He was to young for a motorbike bless him.
After viewing this I found myself looking at other home videos. I find my emotions intriguing, even to me. As a parent of grown up children now 30,26 & 22 it’s in some strange way, seems a lifetime ago I had young children. It’s been so long since our home had young children.
None of my adult children have gone down the road of having their own children which is perfectly fine, I am absolutely in no hurry. It’s not to say I don’t want to be a grand parent one day but right now I’m ok not being one.
Many of my friends have become grandparents and are besotted with their grand kids and I’m sure I will be one day with my own but it feels a world away to be honest. I’m enjoying the freedom of no little kids. Raising my own kids on my own has taken its toll on the word exhaustion. I enjoy the freedom I have now, the time I have now to enjoy my own space. I still have a 22 year old living at home and I feel I am still parenting him, guiding him into being a good male adult and partner to his girlfriend. A good man. My job as parent isn’t yet done. Is it ever, I know you never stop worrying about them and wanting nothing but happiness and health for them.
As I watched these few home videos from the early 2000’s I looked at myself and what thought came into my head was how unhappy I felt my life was, how empty it felt to me. I was so consumed with grief at the time and in much emotional pain. A lot of the time feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities. With raising happy, well mannered children. With trying to keep their lives ‘normal’. But internally my life had a gaping hole.
I missed Harry so much and missed my old life so much that I wasn’t able to love and enjoy, appreciate my new normal. I missed my family life. I hated the sole parent life. I watched the videos and looked at myself being present at Christmas in a physical sense but within I was absent.
I feel so terrible that my children, the most precious love I have didn’t have a mum who was ok. I wasn’t ok. I kept them safe and taught them manners and provided for them, cuddled and nurtured them and every day happened but in my inner self I carried a sadness. I was surviving and not living in those first years after Harry’s death. I could see that sadness in me in the videos, and I also could see a heaviness in my two boys. Jane seemed a happy little girl.
When I think of my life now and my relationships with people 20 years on I think of how empty my life felt back then in the early 2000’s. There’s a prayer that says something along the lines of ‘when you couldn’t carry yourself I carried you’ I heard it once at a funeral and it resonated with me. My family and my friends carried me.
Because I didn’t feel happy I didn’t feel people’s warmth. I knew they loved me and that they cared but not the warmth in life, my world was dark. I didn’t feel the laughter. The happiness. It’s now when I look back on these videos and I see my stepdad teaching Archie to ride his bike that I can feel the warmth. I can feel their embrace. That I can watch that video and feel Archies Pa’s love for him and just how much they cared and how they were carrying me by loving and nurturing my kids. How they stepped up and took those innocent little soles under their wing. How they carried on where I couldn’t, like spending time outside with Archie teaching him to ride a bike on Christmas Day, energy I didn’t have. That Christmas was my second or third Christmas after Harry died. Most people expect you to be ‘getting over’ it after twelve months, eighteen at the most. It took me years to be in a place that I can reflect and say wow my life is so much better now, and feel removed from that time in my life, that that was a different time ago, that that was, the past.
I don’t cry about it now, if anything I grieve for the years I lost in sadness. The precious years of my kids being kids. I feel those years were taken from me and I’m angry at myself that I let such sadness consume me. That I didn’t shake it off and just embrace motherhood.
Maybe when and if I’m blessed with grandchildren I will enjoy them in a unique way because my own years as a mum were overshadowed by the death of Harry.
It’s not that I didn’t love my kids or didn’t enjoy them I did but I felt such responsibility and battled chronic tiredness. I worked part time during those years and to be honest work feels such an insignificant part of my life reflecting back. My kids and their happiness and wellbeing is what mattered and took most of my energy.
I look at the videos of my gorgeous kids and feel they deserved a happier mum. I regret I wasn’t a happier mum not only for them but myself.
I was doing my best. One thing my mum told me my entire life whilst she was alive was , ‘if you are doing your best that’s all you can ask of yourself’. And I know I did my best at the time. I can’t beat myself up. I did something right because I have a great relationship with my kids. We’ve come out the other side ok.
We laugh, we love spending time together, we are family. I love my family. I love their partners. Each one of them has a partner that are good people. As a family unit there is so much love. It’s beautiful feeling the love, laughter, warmth and embrace all that it gives me.
My own mother who family was everything to her taught me that there is nothing greater than a strong family unit. It gives a sense of belonging, love and happiness as a result. I believe as a family unit we have a strong bond. I’m so blessed to have this in my life. Ted has been a good stabiliser in our lives. He helps give us strength, love and certainty going into the future.
My life feels so different than back in the early 2000’s. A life lesson I’ve learnt is to hang in there during the tough times. Sometimes life is unfair, sometimes it’s cruel but that’s life. The more years you live you become to realise life is forever evolving and changing as cliche as that is. That as the years pass new people and life experiences happen. And that when you least expect it you look back and realise you got to the other side and you survived that tough time. There may be other tough times to endure but always remember there is light at the end of the tunnel. Keep moving forwards keep doing your best and it will pass. Always believe something beautiful will happen.
I went for my run. It’s a new day.
Love Lucy x