We all had a plan, possibly quite a vague plan, but a plan nonetheless. I had planned to have a nice house, a stable job, a happy relationship, a marriage, two healthy and happy children. Then real life happened.
I have many of those things.
I have a nice flat. I have a stable job. I have a happy relationship (with myself, but lets not underestimate the importance of being happy in our own company). I have a healthy and happy son. I also have a great relationship with my family – a relationship that is better than it was a few years ago.
But, my life certainly hasn’t gone to plan and that is because you cannot plan real life.
When you were pregnant, you probably had plans of lazy days spent with your baby. You had dreams of gurgling kisses, of warm cuddles, of snoozy satisfaction, of the scent of your sweet breastmilk lingering in the air and on your baby’s head.
I am not criticising. We all had these plans. We somehow don’t believe the literature, and friends who warn us of how damn tough it can be.
Real life, the stuff that you are living now, is the sleep deprivation that comes with having a new born who feeds every two hours. Real life is the fear of failure that you will not be the perfect parent. Real life is the colic, the reflux, the crying, the projectile vomiting. Real life is your worries and anxieties. You don’t plan this stuff. You can’t plan this stuff. None of us can.
Real life with a toddler (where I am now) is tantrums in the supermarket. Real life is Cygnet’s refusal to eat without the iPad in front of him and my anxieties about his fussy eating preventing me from setting the right rules. Real life is Cygnet climbing into my bed at midnight, waking me at 2am and then at 4am and then not being able to open my eyes when the alarm goes off at 6:30am to wake me for work.
The highs are Cygnet’s laughter, his developing speech, his love of books, his warmth, his perception and his inexplicable delight at being taken to a big sandpit even in the icy cold winter.
Real life is the fact that our greatest achievements are borne out of our greatest challenges.
Real life is the bit that happens between the extreme highs that we are perpetually searching for.
You will look back on this time and you will recognise how damn hard it has been and you will give yourself a pat on the back, because not only have you got through it, you are doing fantastically. You are doing amazingly. You may not think so because some days you may not even be able to get dressed in the mornings, let alone leave your house, but believe me, you are doing just fine.
Real life, those colicky sleep deprived hours between the gurgling kisses, is what makes life worth living. Without the tough times, we don’t recognise the easier bits. Without the challenge we cannot feel the achievement. Without the lows, we don’t have the highs.
You may feel low now, but trust me when I tell you that because of these low times, your highs will feel so much higher.