One full year. That’s where we’re at now, plus another few days given it’s taken me a bit to get back here. The 14th of January saw us celebrating the very first anniversary since Tuck’s accident and it has felt pretty significant. Our days lately have been filled with many things but mostly this has been a time for remembering and honouring. We tipped out our Dad Jar which is definitely stuffed full and those strips of paper, those memories, are something each of us will forever hold dear. Perhaps we will continue our dinner ritual with writing those memories and maybe Evie will continue to draw a corresponding picture? Or perhaps we will simply treasure the jar as it is now and that will be enough... I'll let my kids direct that one.
I’ve had a bit to 'process' which is why I have been away from here but there’s nothing heavy nor melancholy in that processing, more just a bewilderment over how far this little family of mine have come since that mid-January night last year. How far I have come. The three of us agree that time over the past year has felt completely contradictory. Those twelve months have past so quickly yet it feels like a life-time. For me personally, there has been immense inner growth, so much in fact that it seems baffling to have journeyed so far in only one year! This anniversary has been an occasion to celebrate rather than mourn. An opportunity to truly celebrate the life of an incredible man, husband and father. Celebrate ourselves and our strength and courage, and for me, well… I gave myself the biggest high-five of all time coupled with a hearty pat on the back. I made it! I got there, through the “Year of Firsts” and everything that that has entailed without completely losing my sh*t.
Reaching this one year anniversary has felt like it’s offered me a sense of closure. I’m not going to be able to explain that because it resides within me as a subtle sense rather than anything more concrete and therefore, any attempt to put words to that sense is going to wind up being a garbled three page essay. With the closure though, has come relief and reassurance. Relief that the first year is over, and reassurance that we got through it. We did it, we are doing it, we can do it and we will do it. We are healing and getting stronger, I am getting use to things. I am learning to identify more quickly, the areas where new strategies need to be in place and then I am making the necessary adjustments. And you know what else? That last bit about the new strategies and making adjustments, that’s not necessarily a grief and healing thing, that’s a parenting thing and a life-learning thing. Don’t each and every one of us have to flow with all kinds of change and identify those areas which need tweaking? And don't any of us who are parents have to continually reassess our responses to our children when those once trusted methods no longer work or apply?
My kids are on the cusp of six and eight years of age which, in terms of a child’s physical and emotional development, are significant turning points. For Noah, there are new boundaries being explored and tested. He is stepping out of his “baby” years and integrating a fresh level of independence. He is discovering his own “person” and learning about what that means for himself and for those around him. It’s endearing and beautiful to observe him doing this, but it’s certainly not without it’s challenges for I also have to integrate a new approach when responding to his needs. Evie is getting ready to coast for a little while, she’s found a level of understanding within herself and thrives with the independence she has gained. It’s usually around the age of ten that another new shift in development occurs* so with her I’m going to enjoy a deep, cleansing breath. So often I forget about these subtle developmental milestones and get stuck in the worry of what it all means. Then I read a little, chat with a few trusted friends and advisers who are far more knowledgeable on such matters, and then I remember to breathe and relax. I recognise their behaviour and their choices as a part of who they are and who they are becoming in a much broader sense and get so much reassurance when I learn that it is all quite “normal” and not necessarily a “grief” thing or a “growing up without a Dad” thing or a “response to trauma” thing. Yes, they are two kids who have had to experience a loss that no child should have to bare, but it is me who has to ‘take a load off’ and realise that not every change within them is a result of that loss. They’re kids and much of their processes are a natural part of being a kid and growing up. That doesn’t mean I dismiss or ignore the challenges when they arise, but more a realisation that losing their Dad is not the catalyst for every stage they go through.
So going back to “new strategies"... over the past few months I have become increasingly aware of my need for a paid babysitter. In the past, Tuck and I have only ever relied upon our parents for any childcare arrangements and over the last year, I have continued to depend solely upon these grandparents. Things are different now, my kids are getting older and everyone leads a busy life. Recently, a few other factors have arisen which have led me to consider alternative options**. To cut a long story short, I was put in touch with a lovely young girl who is a Uni student and earns herself a little extra money through babysitting. Reaching out to her has been such a good decision and after arranging a 'meet and greet' I wasted no time in grabbing my calendar and scheduling in some dates. It couldn’t be easier and she couldn’t be a more perfect fit for us. I can’t believe it has taken me so long to take this step but I know already that it is a game-changer and I am so excited to have her join our little circle.
So, there are more good things ahead for 2016, folks. And, I really am going to talk about my Alice Top next! I know, I know... I think I've been saying that for the last three blog posts.... xo
* These developmental insights are based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner
** The “other factors” are not my stories to share xo