Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Making the Most

'They're testing me for lung cancer,' says the young woman at the back of church.
I moan in dismayed sympathy.
She says that she has endured a three-week lung infection that has resisted two courses of antibiotics, so her GP has referred her to Accident & Emergency for a chest X-ray. The poor young woman instantly assumed the worst.

I moan again. In alarm. I too have endured a three-week lung infection that has resisted two courses of antibiotics, so my GP has referred me to Accident & Emergency for a chest X-ray. And cancer never crossed my mind.

I sit out the hours in the hospital waiting room. Rationally, I know that there is nothing to worry about, but as I study the posters reminding me to Wake up to Rape, to report my drug problem, to memorise the signs of meningitis and to bear in mind that more people die from hospital-acquired blood clots than breast cancer, AIDS and traffic accidents combined, mortality seems to edge a little closer.

Nurses wire me up to a heart monitor and clamp me to an X-ray machine. They suck blood from a vein. They suck blood from an artery. They dress me in a hospital gown and order a curtained bed. I am bored and I am sanguine. Then they talk of blood clots and tumours and possible overnight stays and I start to think panicked of my children.

They hate the one day in the week that I commute to the office because I am not at the school gate to collect them.

What if I am not there, ever?

They hate it when I'm not there to give them their tea because the Vicar doesn't understand about potato terror.

What if I am not there, ever?

There is no finer father than the Vicar, but he doesn't:
grasp the importance of chocolate treasure hunts in muddy parkland.
know how to make a foolproof laptop out of a Cornflakes packet.
endure three games of Harry Potter Cluedo on the trot.
understand about the invisible shark poised to bite small toes in the local swimming pool.

So what if I am not there, ever?

The doctor fetches another doctor and they prod and they pinch and they pronounce that I have pleurisy. Mortality recedes. The gown is reclaimed. The Vicar brings the Skoda and I am phlegmy with rapture.

I long for the children's naked bath-time brawls that usually enrage me.
I long for the tea-time rows over the single shiny desert spoon.
I long for the clamorous return from school; the hallway clogged with flung shoes and book bags; the landing draped with inexplicably drenched clothing.
I even long for the nightly game of Harry Potter Cluedo.

This New Year I resolved to be a better mother. To feed and talk to and be nice to my children. Today's fleeting uncertainty has enlightened me. Our children don't need us to be better mothers. They just need us, imperfectly, to Be There. And so I consistently shall be - the minute I can be bothered to rise up off sofa.

21 comments:

  1. Don't worry about the last bit - they love you just as much on the sofa. Glad everything was OK (except for the pleurisy of course). Get well soon.

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  2. Gosh, wish I could get pleurisy; might appreciate my stay-at-home life more!

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  3. So glad to hear you're not dying. Never mind your kids - what on earth would we do without you?

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  4. But if you don't take stupid word verification off soon I might have to kill you myself.

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  5. You've made me cry with that last paragraph x

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  6. *Choked*
    Beautifully written and, yep, shed a tear.
    Thank you x

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  7. Sofa is ideal spot for cuddled and group tv watching!
    And I back Kate, for the love of god take off word verification x

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  8. I agree, it's the Being There that seems to make all the difference. That's what keeps me at my unchallenging job because anything else would involved longer hours and travel.

    I think parenthood can be resumed in those two words: Being There.

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  9. Never mind your children what would WE do without you?

    Sofa's and duvets are excellent cuddle, group hug places and of course, for having those 'special' little chats!

    To spur you on further, imagine all those doe-eyed parishioners just waiting in the vestibule for the chance to offer their services to the handsome, young(ish) vicar.

    I hope he is spoiling you and making you good hearty meals.

    Take care we all ned you.

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    1. Sounds as though I know you, Singing Angel. I wonder who you are! (Won't tell the Vicar about the young-ish).

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  10. It's a funny thing isn't it. When you are first in charge of your newborn all you can think and panic about is keeping them alive. What would you do if anything happened to them?! And then suddenly it hits you, your own mortality and what the bloody hell would they do without you? Scary stuff.

    Get well soon. And for goodness sake do not get off the sofa, do not pass go, and do not collect £200 and a pair of marigolds.

    BM
    x

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    1. Don't worry, have swapped sofa for bed and shall pay someone else to wear the Marigolds for a while! Wouldn't mind the £200 though!

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  11. Ah ha.........

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  12. Firstly I am so glad you dont have cancer and secondly that was a wonderfully written post and you are so spot on - its best that we are good enough mothers and simply are just there with all our impatience and annoyance.

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  13. Beautifully written. You say it all so perfectly that I can add nowt - aside from "I am heartily glad it was just pleurisy"...

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  14. That is beautiful and so true.. Thank you Snoo and Me for leading me here..

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    1. Thank you for allowing yourself to be led. It's a pleasure to 'meet' you!

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  15. How do you manage to write about such things and remain tastefully witty? I have at least one health scare a year since the kids were born, and it is my second greatest fear that I will die and leave them alone - I never cared two hoots about my health before them. Maybe children are nature's way of making us get healthier - if so it's not working, I drink far more wine than I used to too ;)

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