Yesterday morning I was driving in the car with both my children in the back seat. We were going to a playgroup where both my children would be stimulated and I would have a chance to drink a cup of coffee and have at least half a conversation with an adult before one of us would have to run off to prevent our children from causing irreparable damage to either themselves or someone else.
Despite the morning that lay ahead, I was pissed off. I was stressed and anxious and had that sickly feeling that I’d forgotten something hugely important. You know? It’s what happens when you decide to sit and watch shit TV all night or have that extra glass of wine when what you should be doing is use that time to get your shit together for the next morning. I’d had a number of glasses of wine and hadn’t gotten home until 2am. I was woefully unprepared both logistically and emotionally for a day of parenting and so, I had a massive grump on.
As I drove to playgroup though, the radio played and I heard about the fundraising that the BBC were doing for Children In Need. I actually sat there and scoffed. I was tired and annoyed. My eldest was whining because she wanted The Beatles instead of the radio. My youngest was screaming because I hadn’t had a chance to feed her before we left. We hit every red light. The petrol tank was running low. I realised I’d forgotten to brush my teeth. If someone with super magical powers had asked me in that moment, I would have given a kidney to fast-forward through the day to the moment when the kids were asleep and I could crawl into bed.
I sat there stewing in a puddle of self-pity while I listened to the radio and a girl’s voice cut through all the bullshit in my mind. She must have been about 8 years old. She looked after her mum. She did all the housework, she cooked the meals and the only thing she truly looked forward to was volunteering at the local community farm. She was appealing to us to donate to Children in Need so that the community farm could continue to run.
I mean really? This girl, who was already at the age of eight, looking after her mum was appealing to us to give money to a farm so that she could continue to volunteer there. She didn’t want us to send her stuff, or fund a carer for her mum, or send her to Disneyland…she wanted to be able to have the chance to keep helping out at the farm. Yes, she loved stroking the ducklings and all that shit but essentially, all this girl knew how to do was give. She had a mama who couldn’t wash her clothes for her, or throw her around tickling her until she couldn’t breathe from giggling. Her mama can’t run her around various playgroups or even cook her fish fingers for tea. Despite all this, she just wants to keep on helping other people.
It made me feel momentarily a bit shit about my current state of selfish mind. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw my girls – both healthy (touch that wood), both happy, both completely unencumbered by any sense of responsibility. That’s a a good thing, I know, but perhaps they need to start thinking about how lucky they are. Not every little girl gets what they get…not that they should feel bad about it, but they should at least start to learn to appreciate it.
Come to think of it…so should I and, in fact, so should you. If I’d stopped to think about what I have, perhaps I wouldn’t have been such an arse that morning. So, if you’re healthy and your kids are healthy take a minute to stop and decide whether the small stuff is worth sweating.
Here’s a heads up, it probably isn’t.