Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Fragility

I am driving my 10 year-old to her weekly gymnastics class. We are not in harmony. She is berating me for refusing to allow her an iPhone. I am berating her for spurning the supper I'd painstakingly incinerated for her. As we draw up at the leisure centre I have decided, not for the first time, that I am not cut out for motherhood.

She stumps off to the gymnastics hall; I join a slumped row of mothers on the floor of the viewing gallery. I am nursing wounded feelings and read a novel instead of watching my firstborn with the raptness she expects of me. Later I look up. She and her class partner are performing backwards rolls. Her partner rotates clumsily and doesn't get up again. Teachers bend over her, cajoling her to stand, but she lies there, head bent to the floor, legs twisted under her, and she doesn't respond. I think she's malingering and watch with amused exasperation as she ignores all overtures. A group of lifeguards are summoned from the pool. They too try to coax her into movement and it occurs to me that noone could sustain that position without crippling cramp. I start to study the scene more anxiously as people mill with clipboards and a blanket is fetched.

The paramedics are arriving as we leave. The crumpled figure on the floor hasn't stirred. Her mother kneels beside her, stricken. The lifeguards are in a solemn huddle talking of neck injury.

My 10-year-old is incredulous. 'She is so lively,' she says. 'She was only joking with me just before she screamed.' I too am trying to understand the swift swipes of Fate. It could have been my daughter lying there unconscious and me weeping terrified at her side. It could have been our familiar weekly ritual ending with a siren's wail.

I tuck my daughter up with more than usual gentleness this evening. I don't mention the foul chaos that is her bedroom. I ignore the nail varnish stains on the bath tub and smile through a final sally about iPhones. I am not as skilled a mother as I'd meant to be and my daughter isn't the smock-clad paragon I'd planned, but I must remember not to waste time on regrets. Blessings can be ripped away in a second before we have even realised that we possess them and, for all her impertinence, I'm going to be grateful for my little girl. But no way is she having an iPhone!





12 comments:

  1. Gosh, this took my breath away. Life is made up of moments. I understand your gratitude. When I got clocked on the head by littlest's badminton racquet and am still nursing concussion, I am grateful it is me, not him. Please keep us in touch with your daughter's friend's progress. So scary.

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    1. I'm afraid I have no way of knowing unless they update the children next week since I don't know the family. Sorry to hear of your injury. Thanks again for shielding me from the frights of the awards party last week. I'd have scarpered without your ballast!

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  2. I don't know what to say. So scary and sad.

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    1. Indeed. I'm praying she is not so badly hurt as we fear.

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  3. Being constantly aware of the blessing of parenthood is one of its biggest challenges, I think.

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    1. Isn't it just. No sooner had I posted this than I was telling my 10yo to get out of my sight!

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  4. Man years ago when I was a single teacher, no children and not dating, I told a friend that I was content with my life for the moment but I just wanted to know that there will be some big changes and surprises to come - that this isn't it for the next 3o years. My friend works in a head and spinal injury hospital and had three small children at the time. She replied: I pray to God that nothing changes and that there are no big surprises. With a bit more maturity, motherhood and experience, I now know what she meant.

    I pray for your daughter's friend for a full and speedy recovery. This really shocked me, as it did all of us I'm sure.

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  5. Oh Gosh I'm desperate to know what happened to her friend now! This kind of story terrifies me, and yes, I know exactly the about-turn of emotion that you performed that evening. When push comes to shove, all we really care about is making our children feel safe.

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    1. I'll let you know if and when I know. More congratulations on your win last week. I was so delighted.

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  6. My goodness, that was so shocking. I really hope it isn't too serious. A back ward roll? Really? I can't believe it.... here's hoping she is okay, fingers crossed.

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    1. Actually she returned to the class tonight having only wrenched a neck muscle. And at the end of the session she did a mid-air somersault, missed the landing mattress and landed on her head. She was being tended as we left...!

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