Superhumans.

This blog is dedicated to a superhuman group of people out there. Single parents. Anyone who is bringing up children on their own – honestly – there are no words to describe how phenomenal you are.

Whilst I was growing up, I knew first hand how challenging it was for my mum. She was incredibly young when she had me, so as I grew up, so did she. My father died when I was 11, my sister was even younger, and my brother was a tiny baby who hadn’t even started eating solid foods yet. Sometimes, when I feel that I’ve had a challenging day, I close my eyes and think about what my mum went through – and to this day, I don’t know how she did it. How did she bring up 3 children all on her own? How did she work full time, keep a house, make sure we were fed, clothed, clean and educated? How did she do that?

We didn’t always make her life easy either. We would challenge her. Disagree with her. Not be helpful. I see that now. And I marvel. How did she do it?

The truth is, how does any single parent do it? Sometimes, my husband has to travel with his job and it’s up to me to hold the fort whilst he is away. Normally, we are a team. But when he’s away – first of all the girls miss him incredibly – the absent parent is the hero and the one who is there all the time, is the dogsbody – so there is that to contend with. That’s actually bearable because you can remember feeling that way yourself when you were little. The most challenging part is when all the jobs have to be completed by you. All of them. There is no let up. And of course, you are dealing with children, so one simple job can multiply into a thousand more jobs within a blink of an eye – and you’re tired. More tired than you can ever imagine – tired. Normally, I can stay awake until quite late and it’s fine. When he’s away, I find myself wanting to go to bed at the same time as my daughters and lamenting about all the jobs that need to be done before I can rest my head.

But I can’t complain. Although my girls can have their moments and they are the messiest children I have ever seen – they’re good girls. I won’t complain. And of course I have the support of my extended family, which I value and cherish more than you can ever know. I can’t complain.

But what about those people who are alone, with no support? No extended family? No backing of any sort? How do they cope?

This is why I say to you, single parents are incredible.

Although I believed at the time that I was growing up, that I knew what my mum was going through – I realise that I didn’t have a clue. Every time we spoke about how much we missed our dad – that must have felt like a thousand stab wounds in the heart. Every time we got frustrated with her because of something she had forgotten – we never thanked her for all the millions of other jobs that she had done, and other problems that she had averted with her foresight. I never appreciated how tired she was. I never understood how frightened she was – frightened of all the decisions being hers and hoping that she was doing the right things – because there no one else who could take the flack for it. I never understood how much she fought for us – to instil us with values, for us to be educated, for us to want to better ourselves, not fall in with the wrong crowd, to be mentally and physically equipped to take the world on ourselves. I never understood any of this.

Never.

It’s only when you have your own children that you realise what a huge responsibility being a parent is. And when, for whatever reason, you end up doing it on your own…the responsibility feels even bigger.

Let me tell you though – when your children are older, they will look back and see what you did and they will understand. Huge kudos to the one who stayed. The one who did the daily grind. The one who was not viewed as the special one, because they were always there, enforcing punishments, doing the homework, attending parents evening, listening to them read, taking them to clubs.

Honestly, to those of you, who are doing this parenting malarkey on your own – you are phenomenal. You truly are. You are unsung heroes who do the job of two people and it goes by unnoticed and unrecognised by all.

One day your children will thank you. One day your children will acknowledge what you did. One day they too will understand how hard you worked and the sacrifices that you made.

Here’s to all the parents who are on their own – and do the job of two people. God bless.

Advertisements

Compromise?

A few years ago, I applied for a promotion. Long story short – I didn’t get it. It stung a bit. In reality not that much. When I spoke to my brother about it – he’s good at breaking work situations into tiny chunks and analysing them correctly, he asked me where I thought it had possibly gone wrong…

I knew. I was working part time at that time, my eldest was 3 years old and my youngest was 9 months. There was a point when someone on the panel asked me if I would work full time when I got the role. I replied no.

My brother nodded sagely and his simple assessment was this – you didn’t get the job because you didn’t want it badly enough. You weren’t prepared to give them what they wanted – all consuming commitment! He was right. He must have only been about 25 at the time. But he was right.

You see, after I had children I knew that they had to come first. Work is important and fortunately I am lucky enough to do a job I love, but whilst my children are young – they need a mother more. A functioning, happy mother, who is not bogged down with feeling that she is failing in all areas in life. So, I had to make some life choices – which was more important for me at this particular point of life? Career progression or spending time with my children – time in their most formative years, time that I would never get back? For me it was a no-brainer. Family first.

And you see, I learnt a few valuable lessons from not receiving that promotion. But the biggest lesson I learnt was that when you know what your ‘drivers’ are in life, when you know what is the most important thing, the element that drives you in life – you have so much freedom. A freedom that lifts a huge weight off your spirit. Those people who only liked and respected me because of my professional position in life, I soon discovered who they were and they quickly drifted away from me – some people I already knew were like that, others were slightly surprising. But what was great was that a lot of insincerity and toxicity was removed from my life.

Then of course, what I realised for the first time in my life, I was able to manage my time more effectively so that work time was work time – and weekends and holiday times were mine. So my decision meant that I can go on holiday and not worry about much work is still pending when I get back. Or, worse still, trying to have a wonderful time, but secretly thinking, if I wasn’t doing this – then I could have been getting on with my work. Believe me, there were times in my life that I couldn’t enjoy anything because of how much work I had to do. I can now spend time with my family at the weekends and not have a worry worm, drilling a hole in the back of my mind, reminding me of how much work I still have to do.

That’s all good and great – wonderful and fantastic…but there is one other thing I want to discuss in further detail – and it’s something that my brother spoke about in our post-interview analysis.

His words: ‘you didn’t want it badly enough, that’s why you didn’t get it. If you really wanted that role, you would have agreed to anything they said, to get it.’

I want you to think about that too – think about situations that you’ve been through in life, perhaps in your career, perhaps in a relationship where things didn’t work out. Was there a point when you were asked to do something that you just weren’t prepared to do? Perhaps you felt that it would affect your integrity? Or perhaps you thought it was disrespectful or degrading? But there does come a time when someone draws a line for you, and you have to decide – will I cross this line, or not? Sometimes it’s a decision to do with morals, other times it’s to do with one simple question. If I cross this line, for this person, or this situation – will it be worth it? Or will I regret that decision for the rest of my life, or at the very least, not feel good about myself, afterwards?

You can get advice from people, of course, everyone will have their own point of view based on their own life experiences. But the only person who can decide if anything is worth anything….is you.

The problem with many people in society is that you are expected to live according to other people’s timeframes and other people’s values. You should have completed your education by this age; found a partner by that age; bought your own place by another age, started to have children by that age; of course you should also be in a highly successful job; earning lots of money – all before the age of 35!

You only live this life once. Once. Whether you believe in reincarnation or in an afterlife elsewhere, or whether you believe there is nothing else after this… this life, we get once. So live it according to your values. Live it according to what drives you and what you hold dear. Trust your self, trust your instincts – don’t compromise on things that you know will do you more harm than good.

I will admit, that with my own children, I strive for them to work hard at school, become educated – as education will open doors and give them choices in life. I teach them to respect their bodies and respect themselves – as self-respect is the biggest gift a child can have. I want them to have a hunger and desire to succeed in life – just as my mother ensured my siblings and I did. But the rest – is up to them. I will be here to support them always – and if not me, then my blogs.

Failure is only temporary; success is all relative. What matters is that you live a life that you love. And a life that makes you happy.

I wish…

In Hindi, there is a famous quote that people often say, “Choron ko saare nazar aate hain chor”.  Which translates to, ‘Thieves always think that other people are thieves too.”

It’s a commentary on your world view really. If you are a good person, then you will see the best in others, but the opposite is also true. If you are capable of dubious behaviour, the likelihood is that you will you suspect others of the same.

It’s not always the case, I know. Sometimes life can beat the positivity out of you, perhaps you’ve been hurt by people one too many times, and that’s it – try as hard as you might, you are no longer able to find the good in others. You build walls to keep others out and view even the good that people do, with suspicion.

The thing is, you can’t give up on people. You can’t live your life believing that there is no good in the world. It’s not a way to live. It will make your life unbearable. Granted, there are people who do not wish you any happiness. There are those who wish to see you falter and fail in endeavours. However, there are also those who are truly good and positive. Who you can share both your problems and your successes with equally, and they won’t treat you any differently.

All too often, people will not share their problems with anyone. There are so many reasons for this. Sometimes people have an image to maintain – a glossy image of success – pride will never let them share with others that anything in their life is less than perfect. Sometimes people just don’t know who they can trust. They have been bitten in the past by people who betrayed them – and that experience was enough, they can’t confide in anyone, so they internalise their troubles, keeping them tightly locked in.

We’re constantly told aren’t we? Talk to people. Don’t keep your problems to yourself. A problem shared, is a problem halved – etc, etc, etc.

However, I’m going to ask you a question. Be honest! When someone has admitted to you that they are finding a situation in their life hard…does your opinion of that person change? Do you suddenly feel that they are not as capable as you once thought? Do you feel that they are not as valuable or useful to you as you once thought?

The reason that I ask these questions is simply this – over the years, being the people watcher that I am, I have watched people receive temporary relief by confiding their troubles, and speaking to others…but then…I’ve also seen the aftermath. Those people who have admitted that they are finding life tricky – they are suddenly treated like pariahs. People want nothing to do with them. It’s almost as though admitting that you have a problem with something in life – has made you a failure.

You will disagree with me, I’m sure. Berate me even. Why the heck am I writing things like this, when it could discourage people from talking about their problems, instead of speaking out and seeking help.

I’m definitely not saying that. Honestly. I am a huge advocate of people talking about their problems, and letting that toxic stress out of their bodies. But there are some conditions. If you’re experiencing problems in your life, only confide in those who are truly genuine people. You will know who they are – they would be there for you anytime – regardless. You don’t need to impress them. There are no conditions in their love and affection for you. They are there. Always. However, not everyone has somebody like that in their life. If you do not have anyone in your life that you trust to this extent – then do not bother to speak to just any old person. Go straight to a professional. A doctor. A therapist. A counsellor.

You see, confiding in the wrong person, or people, can make things worse in the long run. Life is a strange type of line graph. We experience ups and downs in our life – and speaking to people who are not mature or wise enough to understand that – who, once you have spoken to them, you have tarred yourself with the brush of failure – instead of ridding yourself of toxicity – you are unwittingly inviting even more of it into your life.

The title of my blog is ‘I wish…’. There is a reason for this – I wish that we lived in a world where although people pay lip service to the fact that we should speak about their problems – that people were actually able to say that they were struggling without there being any judgement or negative repercussions. The fact of the matter is that any worries or problems are temporary. They will not last forever. The problems or difficulties that you may be having now, they don’t define you. You aren’t weak because you are finding life tricky. But sadly, not everyone understands this. Not everyone appreciates this.

So, my message is – speak. If life is feeling tough – speak. If something is feeling hard – speak. But speak to the right people. Life is a learning curve, so sometimes you only find the right people, by speaking to the wrong people first. But do speak.

Time

It’s funny isn’t it – time? Sometimes a second can feel like an entire lifetime, then other times, a whole decade can pass in the mere blink of an eye and you wonder where the time went.

The internet at the moment has been flooded with images of celebrities and ordinary people posting pictures with the hashtag 10 year challenge. I must admit, even I posted something on Instagram for about 20 minutes, then promptly deleted it. Obviously, I had picked photos that showed me in, what I believed, was my best light. Two photos, both taken at my husband’s birthday celebrations, ten years apart. I posted them. Felt great about myself for approximately a minute, then took them down after I’d had a think.

Why? Well, the two smiling, preened, polished versions of me that I had posted didn’t accurately reflect what had happened to me in the 10 years that have passed. Honestly, I felt like a fraud. The two photos that I had chosen were only a snapshot – two seconds of my life. I purposefully chose two pictures that made me look as though time hadn’t even passed. An insecure moment. What was I hoping people would say? Oh Anita, you look exactly the same as you did ten years ago? And I would reply with, ‘Oh, that’s so kind of you! Or, ‘Do you really think so?’ Knowing full well that out of the many, many photos taken over the years, I had deliberately chosen two pictures that made me look vaguely similar.

Sometimes, I can be a real jerk!

But, to my credit, as I said before, I took the post down. I don’t want to be a fraud. There are enough posts out there on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, in magazines, which reflect people’s own insecurities and unintentionally make others feel bad about themselves. Why was I trying to become a part of that cycle of self loathing and self destruction? So, I took it down.

I was bothered by the concept – and it was mainly women who were sucked into the challenge – why is there an expectation that you should not age? Why is there an expectation that your wrinkles, or in my eyes, those beautiful lines, that showed that you laughed, worried, loved, were angry, felt things in life – why should those be blurred and obliterated? Why is there an expectation that your body should look the same as it did when you were ten years younger? Why is that pressure put, particularly on women? No matter how much we strive for equality, no matter how much we strive for equal pay, for a stop to sexual harassment, if we are judged by how ‘Stepford Wife’ like we are at our ability to not age, how have we moved forward at all?

I am not the same person that I was ten years ago. Not in any sense. I don’t look the same. I don’t think the same things. My outlook and feelings about life are different.

In ten years time, I will not be the same person either. I will look different. I will think differently. My outlook on certain things will have changed.

I will say that there have been some beautiful images that I have seen: people with their children, ten years apart. Those images have almost stolen my breath away, and when I look closely at the parents, there is that same expression of love in their eyes and smile, as they hold their child, or children close to them. There have also been hilarious parodies of the challenge too. Variations, which included ‘the ten second challenge’ – smiling, not smiling, and the comments on those posts are hilarious.

I’m not judging anyone who has taken part and posted in the ‘ten year challenge’. I just find aspects of it problematic, that’s all. The message to take away from this blog is simply this: If you haven’t changed, if you haven’t aged, if you haven’t grown in a ten year period, what the hell is wrong with you?

And I question society that celebrates and puts the expectation on women to not age. Be smart, be successful, look muscular or skinny, and oh yes, look like you did when you were 25. Forever. Thank you. Bye.

I have always tried to be a good human being throughout all my life – that hasn’t changed in the last ten years. But I will say, that I am more patient, kinder, wiser and have the benefit of something that I did not have ten years ago….hindsight. The things that I worried about in my twenties and parts of my thirties, I don’t worry about now. You can’t stick that in a photograph to compare and contrast – but those things are true.

On a final note, sadly, my husband this morning, has gone to attend the funeral of a friend who died in his 30’s. It puts life into perspective doesn’t it? When people of your own age, or younger pass away? It doesn’t matter that you are not the same as you were ten years ago. It doesn’t matter that things are different and that life has changed. What matters is – you are alive. You are here. You are wonderful. You being in this world makes a difference. Go out! Live! Take pictures! Celebrate!


Expect more.

I don’t always like it, but quite often my Mum is right about a lot of things. She’s not particularly old, she had me when she was 19, she’s not travelled far and wide, but none of this matters. She’s one of those ladies, akin to Miss Marple, who from the comfort of her front room, can tell you precisely who is and who and what is what. Is she humble about her gift? Not a chance! Ever since I was tiny, I’d always hear about how she could correctly assess any situation and how she was always right. Growing up, it would annoy me immensely – now I accept that she has a certain talent or a gift, I just hope that it is hereditary and that I too can be equally infuriating as I get older, by always being right.

One of the things that I will always be thankful to my mother for, is that she always taught me and my siblings that if we were not happy in a situation, or if things were not going the way we wanted them to, or if we had bought something that we didn’t like – never shrug your shoulders and accept ‘that’s just the way things are’ – do something about it.

Her feeling was that in life we work so hard. Every single penny that we bring home, we have truly earned. Nothing is given to us for free. Nothing in life is free. So when you have worked hard in life, to get what you have and if something isn’t how you would like it, why accept it? If you go to a restaurant and you order a meal and the waiter brings something that you didn’t want, would you just accept it, or would you explain this isn’t what you wanted and ask for what you did want?

Sometimes it is easier to not say anything – but is that right? Do you get what you want by just sitting back and accepting things for what they are?

So, here’s a small example of my Mum’s philosophy in action. We’d had a glorious summer this year and even September was remarkably warm and pleasant. But when the weather began to change, my husband and I bought warm, padded, winter coats that zipped up at the front for our daughters. The zips are an absolute pain. They get trapped with material all the time, then you have to spend ages pulling on the zipper, untangling material, I absolutely hate them. My eldest is particularly prone to getting material trapped in her zipper no matter how careful she is. However, it was my youngest whose coat was eventually ruined because the zip actually broke. Luckily, we had another duffle coat that had belonged to my eldest, but she had grown out of it, and she started to use that. It was my Mum who saw this and asked, ‘Why isn’t she wearing her other coat?’ We explained the whole sorry story to her, expecting that to be that. But she asked, ‘Why haven’t you returned to the shop and asked for another one in her size?’ I then explained about how we hadn’t kept the receipt, we couldn’t remember when we had actually bought it, there was no point, blah, blah, blah…

‘Give the coat to me,’ Mum said, ‘I’ll speak to the shop. This coat is only a couple of months old. This shouldn’t have happened. Children’s coats shouldn’t be ruined so quickly. If you haven’t got a receipt it doesn’t matter.’

Off she drove, with the coat in tow. An hour or so later, she called me. ‘I showed them the coat, explained this shouldn’t have happened. They’ve given me a gift card with the value of the coat on it. I’ll give the gift card to you later.’

There was not a single atom in my Mum’s body that had doubted the outcome of the conversation that she was about to have with the Customer Services department of the shop. She knew what was right, she knew what she wanted and she did something about it. And it reminded me about how strong she is, how unfaltering in her views and how absolutely determined she is that things should be right. You never accept less in life.

So…taking a leaf out of her book, I returned a couple more things that I had bought for the children only a few weeks previously, I didn’t have the receipt but the goods were still for sale in the shop. I explained the situation – the shops returned the money onto gift cards and apologised for what had happened.

Reflecting upon what had happened, and reflecting over my life in general, I was grateful to God that my mother is the way she is. She is a fighter. A strong, demanding woman who knows what she wants in life, and will not take the easy, lazy option. She wants what she wants and will get it.

She taught us, and we picked it up without even realising it, that the whole world is out there – you have to know what you want out of life, and you have to ask for it. Expect it. If you don’t get what you asked for – make a fuss. Keep going, keep knocking on doors, keep trying until you get what you asked for, what you wanted for yourself.

Even though I am so much older now, I am astounded at my Mum’s confidence when facing things. When she knows she’s right – she knows she’s right (and that’s quite often), and no one will be able to stop her from getting what she needs, done.

We never stop learning. We never stop growing. And every so often, we need reminding. Expect more from life. If things are not right, in any situation in life – don’t just shrug your shoulders and accept it. Things will never change if you do that. Things will never get better. Be brave. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and ask for change – just like you would if you were brought the wrong order at a restaurant, or if the zip’s broken on a coat and you don’t have the receipt.

Anything is possible. Just ask my Mum, she’ll tell you what to do. And when it works, be prepared for her to say, ‘I told you it would work. I’m always right!’

Respect

Respect is a funny thing isn’t it? An intangible but a powerful force to reckon with. You know when you have it. However, a bit like water and food, you’re even more acutely aware of it when you don’t have it.

We’re taught from a young age that adults and authority figures deserve respect. Throughout history, there have been innumerable instances when those figures have abused the power of the respect bestowed on them by others by taking advantage of and mistreating those around them. Often, they get away with their actions with very few consequences. Why? Because they are often shielded by others who revere them or benefit from them or bask in the reflected glory of the respected person.

When you go through life and there are ups and downs, you realise quite quickly that people are chameleons. People quite often astound me – and not in the positive sense of the world. To some, position, power and wealth is king. It is absolutely everything. You can be an absolutely wretched, deplorable human being. But, because you have an important position, or are in power, or have wealth – you are impressive, worthy and deserving of respect. On the other hand, you can be kind, helpful, an angel of a human being – but without wealth, or an important job, or not wielding power over anyone – you’re valued as worthless. Undeserving of respect. Your words are not valued, your actions are not valued. You are a ‘nothing’ in their eyes. Nothing.

The older I get, the more and more I observe this behaviour in the world around me. People fawning like sycophants over people with wealth and/or power. If truth be told, it angers me. Those people who are so superficial and lacking in integrity, that the way they judge people is purely based on wealth and power and position – and that is their criteria for giving people respect – in my eyes, these people are truly despicable.

Surely, you have to dig a bit deeper? Surely, if you are going to give respect to someone – you have to have loftier ideals? Surely, the recipient of your respect has to be a good human being in the first place? Surely, they have to be kind and good? Surely, being in their presence should make you feel good about yourself?

The thing with wealth and power – you never know when it will come, or when it will go. The other intangible qualities: kindness, helpfulness, reliability, integrity, ability to keep your promises…these are not transient attributes. They don’t simply come and go. These qualities, if you have them – they are there for life. Why aren’t these people given the most amount or respect? Because if they were – our world would be a different place. Certainly not the brutal mess it is at the moment.

I have met people who have been cruel. Who have been unkind. Who have done their best to break people around them, destroy their confidence, stamped out the light inside others. Often, it is these types of people in power. They treat their subordinates in this way. Many leave. Some leave before too much damage has been done. Others leave after they have been completely destroyed. Those who stay they emulate this behaviour once they get into power because they admire and respect this style and believe that this is the best way to be.

There are those of course who have wealth, power and position, and are absolute gems of human beings. Those people are few and far between.

I will say this – we are on the brink of a new year. 2019. 2018 has felt extremely drama filled and tumultuous when you look at events on a global scale. At the moment, the world doesn’t seem like a particularly kind, safe place to be living in. On the Earth at the moment, the best people are actually primary school aged children. They are the ones who are the most idealistic people, wanting the world to be a better place, treating each other with kindness and calling out others who do not behave correctly. They often show patience to those who are different, and won’t tolerate unkindness in others.

What the hell happens to them? Why do those incredible qualities that they are born with, because children are inherently good and kind, why do they get battered out of them? When does respect for goodness and kindness become substituted for money and power?

I don’t know. What I do know is that we need to take a good hard look at ourselves and reflect on our own behaviour. If we want to live in a more peaceful and happier world, we need to re-evaluate as a society who and what we give respect to.

I know, I know, I’ve laboured the point enough… but I’ll leave you with this…

We make choices all the time. Our choices have consequences. If we choose to give the wrong type of people respect – the repercussions are horrific. We cannot blame those in power for their behaviour, if we are the people who put them there and crucially, keep them there in the first place. Let’s start taking responsibility for our actions, and slowly but surely, let’s start changing the world.

One can only but hope.


Step back in time

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the app ‘Timehop’, most of you probably have it.  If you don’t, I’ll explain what it does.  You can link it to the photos on your camera roll, to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Dropbox etc, and everyday it gives an update of any photos, or Facebook statuses, or tweets you may have written on that day years ago.  I love it.  Everyday, it shows me memories of photos and videos of my little ones that I or others took and I marvel at how small they were.  I marvel at videos of them when they were only 18 months old and how I could understand them perfectly at the time – but I look back at their broken English, and attempts to communicate, gesturing and nodding – like a game of charades – and I think how nobody else would probably understand what they were trying to say, but my husband and I did.  

Yesterday, as is my daily ritual, I opened Timehop again, and saw a series of photographs and videos that physically hurt my heart.  It reminded me of a time when I desperately wanted to be in control of my life – but nothing could have been further from it. 

Let me digress and travel off track a little.  On the BBC at the moment, there is an advert that has caused a bit of a controversy amongst some viewers.  The advert shows a teenage boy and a fraught mother.  It’s Christmas time and the mother has to work – she can’t spend the time that she would have liked to with her son, and her son resents her for, as he sees it, putting her job before him.  As a viewer, you can see the conflict in both of those people.  Mum has to work.  The son probably gets that too – but he wants to spend some time with her.  The mum is also torn in half, she needs to work, but she also wants to spend time with her son.  We see shots of them both struggling in their different settings, both angry, both frustrated.  Finally, the mum runs out of work, races to be with her son and they spend the perfect evening together, reconnecting.  

Why the controversy?  I wondered why people were outraged.  I wasn’t.  I got it.  Having felt that way many, many times in my life, I understood how that mother felt.  I never wanted my own children to feel that way about me.  You see the objection to the advert was that it was a woman.  Why do women have to feel guilty about going to work and having a career and leaving children at home?  I think those people are misguided.  The advert wasn’t trying to say that.  My interpretation was, in a world where we seem to be living to work, instead to working to live – there are times when we need to take a step back, revaluate what is important, the times and moments that we will never get back, and grab those moments so that we can live without regrets.  

The photos and videos that I referred to earlier, was my eldest’s very first Christmas play, when she was in Reception.  I had resigned myself to the fact that I couldn’t go.  I didn’t bother asking my boss at the time, whether I could go because…because I didn’t want to put anyone out.  It was alright, I convinced myself, my husband would be going, she would have one parent there to watch, that would be ok.  It didn’t matter if I didn’t go.  That’s what I told myself.  

The day of the performance finally arrived, and all I could think about was making sure that she was ok.  I hugged her and explained that she was going to be brilliant and that daddy was going to take lots of pictures and videos, so I wouldn’t miss a thing.  From an extremely early age, she has been incredibly emotionally intelligent, so she just smiled and said that everything was fine.  With a heavy heart, I drove to work.  Now the play was starting at 1.30 in the afternoon, and my husband had to pick his parents up from Heathrow that morning.  A completely straight-forward job.  He was keeping me updated about the flight and his arrival time and all was going well – until the flight was delayed.  The airport was about 2 to 2 and a half hours away – and we were in trouble.  Chances were that he wasn’t going to make it back in time, and our little 4 year old was going to have no one there to watch her in her first performance.  

I felt anxious anyway about not being to watch her, but knowing that we had promised that Daddy would be there, and for her to not see anyone in the audience was too much for my heart to bear.  Feeling distraught, I went to my head and explained the situation to her.  I’m not sure how articulate I was, but she could see the distress that I was in, she was completely wonderful and let me go.  

I made it.  I made it on time, to watch my daughter play the part of a sheep, singing her songs and doing the actions that she had spent hours at home learning and perfecting.  All the other parents were sitting together, they all seemed to know each other, I found an empty seat somewhere in the crowd and suddenly there was a bustling of excitement as the play was about to start and the children were walking in.  

Looking back through the photos, I remembered my daughter’s face, so wide-eyed with amazement as she took seconds to process the fact that I was there!  Mummy was there to watch her.  And then she waved excitedly as I blew kisses and waved like a crazy person back at her.  

The play began, and I sat back in my chair wondering at the might of God.  Even though I thought that this was an event that I was destined to miss – the Almighty had other plans.  Genuinely, it felt like a Christmas miracle.  My husband didn’t miss out either.  20 minutes into the performance, he arrived and saw the rest of the play too.  Both of us had tears of both pride and joy and relief in our eyes…

Although it pains me to look back on those times, I’m also extremely grateful that I was able to make life choices and decisions that helped me to redress the imbalances in my life.  I’ll be honest, a few years on and I had forgotten about that time.  But the photos and videos brought everything back to me, like a jolt of lightning.  

One of my mantras in life is to have no regrets.  Life is short and unpredictable, so at times, we have to make life choices that may seem bizarre to others – but are right for us.  I am grateful to God every day for being with me, and helping me to not live a life of regret.  And I will never forget the day that I was not supposed to watch my daughter’s play – but God had other plans.  And for that memory, I will be thankful and grateful forever.