Every now and then, someone who means well will come along and say something ridiculous and very touching to me like “I really admire you” or “I don’t know how you do it!” Which suddenly makes me feel like a complete and utter fraud. I feel embarassed by these statements, as flattering as they are, because I don’t feel what I do is difficult or challenging. In fact, I think that I have it really easy. I get to spend eight hours on most days of the working week in pure intellectual indulgence. I put my headphones on, listen to music, write, read, analyse, and try very hard not to go on Facebook too often. Once a week people pay me to listen to their stories and give them advice on health and happiness. I get paid to do what I love and feel passionate about. I have autonomy over my day. When I go home, it’s to two bouncing children who greet me with the widest smiles and warmest cuddles, and to a loving and supportive husband. After my children go to sleep, I have this ecstatic 60 minutes of reading, blogging, and thinking. I get eight hours sleep a night, usually uninterrupted (don’t hate!!!) I reside in (apparently) one of the most liveable cities in the world. I almost feel like I live in a cosy, protected universe where everything is going right. Most days.
So you see, what I do is actually easy. Dead easy. And I really do have it all.
Now, if (God forbid) something happened to my family – and I had to deal with single parenthood, children with chronic illnesses and disabilities, or be alone,
if I was diagnosed with a terminal condition and given just weeks or months to live,
if I lost my freedom as a woman and had to give up my career and personal liberties,
if I lost the use of my legs and could no longer go running, or push my children in the stroller, or pick up my little boy when he bumps his head and cries, or walk down the street with each of my children’s hands in mine,
if I lost my eyesight and could no longer see the beautiful faces of my angels, with their soft round cheeks, huge bright eyes and flat little button noses, or marvel at their tiny feet and hands (always etched in my memory, no doubt) – and wonder how I could ever have created such perfection,
if I lost the use of my hands and could no longer care for myself or my children, or bake a birthday cake, or brush tiny teeth at night, or type a heart-felt blog post, or put shiny bow hairclips in my little girl’s hair,
if I was forced to flee my country, leave my past and my belongings behind, and have to fight for recognition as a human being in another country,
if I fell into the darkness of depression, and could only see black everywhere I looked, and could not crawl out of that hole despite my most desperate efforts,
if I feared for my safety and the safety of my children at home, and was plagued with nightmares even after leaving the battlefield, always looking over my shoulder,
if any of this happened and despite this I displayed strength, grace, courage, wisdom, gentleness, and hope, then that’s when I would deserve admiration from others. Not now.
And you can bet your last dollar that as long as I have it all, I’m going to make the most of what I’ve got. I don’t know how long I’ll get to keep these gifts for. But I’m sure as hell not going to waste my time while I’ve got them. And one day, when I’m a tiny wrinkled old lady with white hair, I’ll look back at the richness of my life, at the joy, the tears, the pride, the sadness, the lessons learned and lessons given, and I’ll be satisfied that I gave it my best shot.
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