Posts Tagged ‘choice’


April 29, 2012

My whole trip down memory lane had me clicking around my old blog, reading random entries. And I found one where my pal David asked me ten questions. One blew me away. Look:

6) If you had to choose between a life without legs and a life without children, which would it be?

I’m answering these out of order, and this one keeps catching my eye. It seems an impossible choice, and I can’t believe that I find myself leaning towards having legs.

In truth, I can’t imagine myself without legs OR without children. Except that I do know what it’s like to not have children, and I don’t know what it’s like to not have legs. I really believe disability isn’t a huge problem; this is primarily because of my first degree.

I’m not saying it isn’t limiting in some way, if you choose to see it as that, but in other ways it allows people to experience similar things in different ways.

I wonder what the limitations of this question are. For instance, can I foster children or teenagers? Or is that merely getting out on a technicality?

Essentially, I believe it’s possible to have a fulfilling life either way.

But…I guess I would choose having children over having legs. Except I WOULD totally get some bionic ones.

Children offer family, continuity, laughter, love. Legs offer a lot, but I would hope I would be adaptable and resilient enough to face life without them.

I hope, though, I will have both.

Shit. ‘Children offer family, continuity, laughter, love. Legs offer a lot, but I would hope I would be adaptable and resilient enough to face life without them.’ Have I? Have I exibited the grace and hope these words imply?

After all, while it sometimes feels I actually made the choice of having children over being able to walk normally, it wasn’t really a choice. I didn’t know it was a choice I was making before it happened. Who thinks they are going to end up with a permanent disability because they chose to get pregnant? It never entered my mind, which is why this past entry seems spooky and prophetic and….well, hopeful.

It reminds me that even if I HAD had the choice – mobility or my children – I’d choose my children. Every time.

Thank you for that, David from 2004. One again you have brightened my life. I love you.


Being happy can be a choice.

March 7, 2011

There are two possible opening sentences:

We have never been big spenders.

Sometimes being positive is a choice.

A few years ago, before we bought our current flat, our bank called us in for some sort of financial review. I guess the money we’d saved for a deposit on a house made us suddenly important customers, because we’d been pretty solidly ignored prior to having this money.

The guy went through the usual: how much do you spend per month on clothes? Entertainment? Pubs? Going out?

As we basically said we spent no money (and it’s true, you’ve never known two women less likely to buy clothes! Or two twenty-somethings…now thirty-somethings… less likely to go out!), the look on his face clearly showed he thought we were full of shit. Like we were trying to impress him, trying to beg for a bigger mortgage if we applied with them. (We did not.)

It’s no secret I love Yankee Candles. LOVE them. It’s also no secret that I spend a lot of time oogling them, sniffing them, looking them up on ebay – and never buying them. Because even when TMD had a job, candles were a luxury.

But to spend the weekend talking about how we have to stop buying Diet Coke, or tortillas, or so many carrots because these things are too expensive? To not buy a secondhand pair of boots for my kid because we don’t have the money? To stop thinking of buying them building blocks because, well, we might need that 6.00 for a bill in the near future? Depressing shit.

So even as I can’t sleep at night, even as I have nightmares about her losing her job when I do manage to sleep, even when I wake up to diarrhea every. single. morning. because stress always goes to my stomach, I take a deep breath and believe myself when I say this might be a blessing.

I feel we have to conciously choose to make things a blessing. It won’t feel like one for months, maybe a couple of years, but we are the sort of people who will make things work. We are the sort of people who strive to be happy.

She is stronger than me. I don’t think ongoing panic has hit her, or if it has she’s not shitting herself like me (literally) or living in a hell of not sleeping. We’ve decided to nightwean (started last night, a post about that coming soon) because she has three weeks left at her job and now is the time to feel like shit from not sleeping because it just doesn’t matter.

Sometimes you have to choose to be happy. Even when you can’t unwind, even when your mind is not quiet or content.

And then sometimes it’s a sunny day. Your friend and her little child are over, and the sun is pouring down from a pure blue sky – a rarity in this country. So you go outside – no coats. No coats! – and sit on the grass which is dry for the first time in about five months.

Your children squeal and ride in the secondhand cars we were gifted, and they feel like a real gift because of the happiness. Because your son is actually staying in sight and not running for the wilds. Because vitamin D is melting into your skin from the heat of the sun, and your friend is laughing, and you decide to erect the pop-up playtent in the garden and three little children are laughing and peek-a-BOO-ing and happy.

Sometimes being happy isn’t a choice. It just happens.

Until things are more secure and sure for us, I choose to live in hope and happiness. And I am even more thankful for these brief moments when I’m not worrying and overthinking and stressing out. For the times when I am just able to sit in a tent with my children, for the cup of tea I am drinking, for the joy of just being.

That costs nothing, most of the time.

Choosing the miracle.

August 12, 2010

Life is sometimes a series of extravagant miracles; sometimes they only have meaning to you. Imagine what it feels like to be told you could be permanently disabled. A life bound to a chair, a life dependent on only taking short range walks. Imagine two years of being unable to walk, and then imagine today.

Three miracles.

This morning I went into town with my family, with no thought of being disabled, unable, or anything other than ordinary. The pleasure of waiting in line at the bank. The joy of waiting outside the health food shop, dancing on the pavement to the delight of my clapping and appreciative son and daughter. Casual walking through this street, to that store, across a bit of lawn.

And this evening, plugging music into my ears and choosing the direction that includes a hill, rough ground, space and peace.

Each step I take is a courageous choice to reclaim my life.

I’ve been told now it will be another three to four years before I recover, but this evening I chose to believe I could do it, to treat myself with compassion and love and trust.  I chose to give it a try.

I walked along the path that took me to work a couple of years ago. Down the road sparsely populated with houses hundreds of years old, extensive flowers lush and thick in their front gardens. I turned down a deserted lane, the hedge flashing green and red in alternate stripes as I walked along….and stopped to take pictures.

I got lost.

Even that was a pleasure, standing suddenly on the corner of a busy road and wondering where the hell I was and how I was supposed to get home. Cars whizzed by, I looked around, I chose the way I thought was right, and I walked.

I walked.

I walked.

My feet moved along the concrete, a breeze wafted across my face, and I moved of my own volition and will. This time last year I required gas & air, as well as morphine and a host of other drugs, just to get myself on or off the toilet – to or from the confining seat of a wheelchair. I had not freely walked for months and months and months, and I thought I would regain the ability quickly after giving birth.

Instead I was unable to walk at all, lying on the couch as my newborn babies lay on my tummy, on the floor, on playmats. Months went by and as they learned to move around the room, so did I. I took hesitant steps, hooked up to a TENS machine on full blast, tears streaming down my cheeks.

And now as they learn to walk with the help of my hands, as they learn to stand on their own, I echo their progress. They are brave, they take risks. They don’t realise things are impossible or a challenge – so they do it all, and they take joy in the learning. Growing is play to them.

Growing is play to me, too. Never again will I take for granted the simple and complex pleasure of walking. Of being alone on a country lane in the gloaming, pausing to watch a stream as it twists and turns. This is the miracle, in these gifts we have been given but forget to notice because they are just always there.

Maybe this is my gift – in having my legs taken away from me for two years, my life has been coloured with a richness and a gratitude I would not have had otherwise. Because as my children learn to walk, as they widen their lives into bigger and bigger circles, so do I.

I choose hope. I choose persistence. I choose to forgive myself when these choices seem too hard, because along come these moments of sweeping grandeur, alone on my feet, walking on the road.

Miracles can happen, but sometimes you need to help them along.

What it means to be a parent, and how we do it.

March 29, 2010

Been thinking about writing on a certain topic for months – since biscuit-on-a-plate lady, actually. But for now, I’m going to copy a post from my other blog (written last Thursday)  here:

The only other babywearing mama in my town (aside from my wife, of course!) came over today with her lovely baby girl. She brought along some slings for me to try – an Ocah, a Girasol shortie, and a DELICIOUS petrol fishie from Didymos. Unfortunately I was a bit sore so didn’t do too much babywearing at all, though did have Coconut up on my back  while I toted her into the kitchen and then nursery.

Let’s just say I hope said mama gets sick of the fishie because I lust for it. (Yes, Sarah, I am talking to you. Are you reading? Ha.)

I really do like being around other mamas who are into slinging their babies – and everything that may or may not come with it.

We’re talking cosleeping, cloth diapering, breastfeeding, baby led weaning, natural parenting, attachment parenting, etc etc.  I certainly don’t tick all those boxes, but I tick some of them.

What about you? I’m curious about all the people who find their way to this blog. What’s your opinion on amber teething necklaces? On how to wean your baby? What sort of diapers/nappies do you use?

What boxes do YOU tick?

I ask because people always surprise me. Someone I went to school with responded to my facebook status today, in which I mentioned that we were inadvertently becoming cosleepers (albeit not all in the same bed – we don’t fit) as the babies were going through a weird waking in the night sort of thing. She came out of the cosleeping closet and said she’d been doing it three years!

So many of our choices as parents feel right to us, yet can be frowned upon by other people. I wonder why that is. For me, my priorities aren’t to have my babies walking or talking before anyone else. I’m not really into the whole competition scene that so many people get dragged into – though I won’t lie. I sometimes wonder, ‘Why aren’t they sitting yet? When will they get teeth? Oh my god, is Coconut saying “mama” on purpose?!?!’

I care more about raising my twins to be imaginative, secure, and emotionally intelligent kids. I care more about nurturing their self-esteem than my own – which is why I love them exactly as they are, whether they walk at ten, twelve, or fifteen months. I don’t need to show off their mad rolling skillz, because honestly? Who cares??

Other mothers don’t want to hear me talk about how I am clearly raising two super geniuses, and does it do anyone any good? I want Snort & Coconut to always, always feel loved – at their very cores, not just because of things they accomplish.

So tell me. What are your priorities? What sort of parent are you? What choices are you making for yourself, your children, your family?

Finding my voice.

June 13, 2009

Let’s chronicle my writing near-misses, shall we?

I’ve had two personal referrals to big, big agents. From an author I adore.

I’ve had an Oscar and BAFTA award winner offer to read a manuscript to see if it could be transformed into film, with the added offer of introducing me to a few directors. Or just the opportunity for her to read it as a more informed, critical reader.

I did nothing about either of these options, or the other smaller ones I’ve had.

I say these things not to make myself feel miserable, but in a sort of gentle puzzlement. Three years of intensive counselling training and reflection could not help me, two years of therapy did not help me, thirty years of life have not helped me. Everyone has a theory on why I do not submit my books further than arm’s reach, particularly those smarty pants who are also counsellors.

I get great opportunities, I do not follow up on them. I have two and a half pretty okay/good books lying around somewhere – I don’t know where. Somewhere. And now I’ve had all this time off work – something I would have previously dreamed of.

I think the question is, do I not pursue this because I am lazy (or due to some other psychological neurosis), or because it is not what I want to do? I know I am the happiest when I am writing, and for right now, that’s enough. Maybe. I don’t know why I am thinking about this stuff again.

I do know this is not just confined to writing, but other opportunities as well. In the last twelve months I have been offered paid supervisory work, a position as the core tutor on a counselling course (abroad, no less!), and some random bits and pieces of counselling work. You’ll note none of these things are going on – although I think the only reason I made the decision not to do these was because we were going through IVF, and then pregnancy. So scratch the limiting myself thing – while fabulous chances do sometimes make me sweat, at least I feel I made an actual choice to turn these jobs down.

With writing, any choice is made by virtue of me simply not doing anything. Inaction is deadly.

Perhaps I am just ripening – (how long can I use that excuse for?)

Or maybe because I am not working as a counsellor while these babies brew, and being in sessions with clients made me feel as good as the worlds in my head do. You see how the excuses and justifications and explanations pile up? I am good at finding them, but nothing seems to unlock all the mysteries at the same time, no matter how good they sound.

I guess one bottom line could be (maybe, possibly, coulda shoulda woulda) the simple truth that nothing I write seems good enough, true enough, authentic enough. Perfect enough.


…sun glinting off a river…leather couches.

March 25, 2009

In an altogether awkward, reflective mood today. Had a bad night last night, and a badish morning today. Every now and then these little bubbles of the unpleasant and unexpected pop up, and I wonder where they have come from and when they will go away again.

I also am thinking about my grandmother today. A few days ago my mother emailed me in response to my bump pictures and said, ‘I hope grandma can see you.’ I didn’t know what she was talking about – she was grandma, and hadn’t she just seen all the photos? TMD said, ‘She means YOUR grandma.’ A surge of something came over me – guilt for not remembering, loss for what I/she/TMD/the babies are missing, warmth at her memory.

This morning Chirp wrote to me about my grandmother, out of nowhere – with a quote of what she thinks my grandma would say about all these babies. It made me smile, and tear up a little.

The Polish Catholic part of me, the part of me who just started reading Eat, Pray, Love today (thank you, Tia!), thought for just a second – is this my grandmother trying to come through to me? Twice mentioned in one week after a too long absence? Then the pragmatic part of me briskly slapped me about the face and told me to gather myself in, to be real.

Today I am in the office for a little while in the morning, then lay down/eat lunch for an hour, then travel across the city to go to an afternoon training. It’s in a big, iconic building that every tourist will have seen – right along the river. I’m going to push myself out of the crowded public transport system and wind my way to the river, walking along the banks to go to the training. While it’s a slightly longer route and walking is not my friend these days, I long to see the sun bounce off the river, to see all the crowds, to walk along and marvel that I, plain old Existere from a countryish background in an ordinary backdrop, now live in this (mostly) extraordinary country.

Here’s hoping the sun cooperates.

After the training I’d like to find myself a little hole to curl up in with this book, sometimes reading and sometimes thinking about my very slipped Buddhist practice. My mother and I had a conversation last week where she told me to pray to God with  my worries, that everything was out of human control anyway. I said I thought most things were actually our choices, actions, etc.  We came to a somewhat happy compromise – an altogether interesting thing to happen when our spiritual views are (I think, anyway) far apart.

But whoever you pray to, whatever you believe or don’t believe, I suspect many things are actually one and the same. TMD’s strong atheism makes me nervous, people who are strongly religious make me nervous. I’m just here on my little island, wondering and curious and hopeful and pessimistic.

All things considered, though, I’m doing okay.