Sophocles (a famous greek playwright) once wrote that “children are the anchors of a mothers life”.
It’s particularly poignant for me, today, Mother’s Day, after losing one of my precious anchors.
On Mother’s Day last year, I was excitedly looking forward to meeting our baby boy, Elijah and I never expected that I would have to say goodbye before his life had barely begun.
No longer anchored by two sons, I’ve been reflecting on how that unexpected and tragic loss has changed me as a Mother to my living son.
I used to worry a lot.
I worried about him being successful. I had conversations with my husband about him leaving home in the future. How will he afford a house? University? We assume he’ll go, right? We must make sure he goes to a good school so he can do that. I visited private schools and read up on “fee structures”. We need to make sure that whatever Degree he chooses to do, we fully support him, even if that’s “Arty” and not something “Sciencey”. I have vague memories of us arguing over that point. We had those conversations and many, many more about his future.
I want, so painfully and acutely, that it hurts in my stomach, to argue ridiculous points about Elijahs future.
How ridiculous that I used to be concerned that Gabey (my now 3 year old) WILL be reading by 3. I once said that as I was reading by age 3, it must be “in his genes”. At the very least, I used to insist, we definitely need to make sure he is reading before he starts school. Ah, schools….I can’t tell you the amount of school Ofsted reports I’ve read. The amount of hours, days, I’ve thought about schools for my children.
Now, I worry about three things…
1) Is he alive
2) Is he healthy
3) Is he happy
Of course, I’m not an idiot. I’m not saying I want or would be happy for him to go to the crappiest school in Sussex but what I’m saying is I just don’t worry about the future as much anymore.
When your child dies in your arms, all thoughts of the future stop. How can you even see the next day, let alone starting school, when death has so cruelly and blatantly crashed into your life. Suddenly, everything shifts. Life most fragile. You start living and parenting in the moment, day by day, aware that every moment is precious and more moments are never, ever guaranteed.
A few weeks ago we moved to a new area and I went to visit our local Montessori nursery school with my 3 year old. Before losing Elijah, I would have visited at least half a dozen of the nearest and the best and I would never have considered a Montessori nursery. I was extremely traditional and no-nonsense all the way. I would have scoured the Internet for all the nursery Ofsted reports within the area. I would have taken weeks to choose, probably visiting each one twice and boring my husband with minute details of the pros and cons of each establishment. I may have even written a spreadsheet.
This time, I walked into the nursery and noticed how warm and gentle the staff were. How calm and happy the atmosphere seemed. Then I looked at my boy and he was smiling and pointing at pictures of dinosaurs on the wall. He was happy so I was happy. Not the other way around. This time it was his decision. I signed him up that day.
It was the first and only nursery we visited.
It’s a big change for me.
So on this Mothering Sunday, I wake up knowing that I’m now a different parent.
I’m now parenting after loss.
That will, undoubtedly, continue to bring many unexpected challenges but like every other Mother does, every single day, I’m just going to try my very best and keep my fingers crossed.