Thursday, 5 September 2013

Slipping through my fingers.....

They say that life is like a toilet roll – the further you get into it, the faster it disappears! It certainly seems that way. Is it me or is there more to fit into 24 hours than there used to be? Seriously, one day merges with the next and one week with another and I’m still not sure what I managed to achieve sometimes. Well maybe I just achieved survival but that’s kind of a minimum expectation and I don’t know about you but I don’t want to just survive – I want to thrive!

The year has flown by, the snow giving way to a late Spring and finally a glorious Summer. Yet before we know what’s what here we are marching relentlessly into a new school / college year, blackberries bursting in the hedgerows and the cool early morning watercolour sunrise meeting a low lying mist, giving the game away that Autumn cannot be delayed much longer.

And I love Autumn. I love the changing of the seasons. I love cold frosty mornings and a warm fire and good company. But seasons change, and the seasons of life change, time moves on and I am no longer the young dad I once was – the mirror mockingly tells me so every time I try to outstare it. (Note to self: remove all mirrors)

But sometimes I want to put everything on hold, press the pause button, stop to look around. If you were born anytime before the 70’s you might remember a song called Slipping through my fingers by Abba: “sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture, and save it from the funny tricks of time, slipping through my fingers all the time, I try to capture every minute….”. Even before having children I was aware of the poignancy of the lyrics, which were matched with a melancholy melody. And I have tried to capture every minute of all my children growing up but sometimes it’s just so all-consuming just surviving the days, weeks and months that you forget to celebrate the beauty that exists even in the most difficult of days. But there are many who would gladly swap with us.

This year Matt has been to Afghanistan, Laura has become engaged (hurrah) and Emily has had her long awaited 21st birthday (with a fantastic party which I’ll tell you about another time). Those beautiful babies I once held have grown up…..yet I feel like I’m only just beginning to understand what being a parent is all about.

Remember the good days and not just the challenging ones

Am I waffling? I think I’m waffling. So I’ll cut to the chase. My encouragement to you is this. Enjoy your children, despite the difficulties that there will inevitably be. Remember the good days and not just the challenging ones. Use your camera to capture moments that you will otherwise forget. Allow your senses to touch, hear, see, smell and taste every moment of every day. Enjoy your children. Allow them to bring out the very best in you even when you feel at your worst. Parents of children with learning disabilities often feel like we’re not good enough, like we’ve failed, like we’re not being the best we can be for our children. But there’s nobody quite like you and there’s nobody quite like me (thank goodness I hear you say!) – and there’s nobody quite like each of our beautiful children.

I see many parents who often look worn out. It’s no surprise because there are so many battles to fight and we only have strength for so much. That’s when we need to rely upon each other. Get alongside someone who will help practically and someone else who will offer words of life and encouragement. We need one another and the family of online parents is amazing, supportive and the very best of humanity even amongst people we may never meet. You were born for a purpose. You were created to prosper, flourish and thrive so give yourself a break!

I’ll leave with this. 21 years ago Emily was born, we didn’t know anything about Down’s syndrome, we didn’t know much about parenting, we didn’t have a clue how we would get through. But we did. “She might not be able to speak”, we were told. Well today the phone rang – again. It’s been ringing a lot recently since we put an advert in the paper to sell a piece of furniture. “Hello” said Emily, “no I’m sorry we don’t want any today - bye!” And with that Emily terminated the call and put the phone down!!! “Who was it?” asked Sheron. “Oh, just someone selling something” said Emily. She was articulate, confident and quite certain that then caller was another sales call. (a few minutes later Sheron answered the phone to a bewildered caller who was asking about the advert but had just received a good dose of Emily at 21…..)

Then as I got in from work Emily proudly showed me her certificates from college which had arrived in the post this morning. With that she shouted, “Hey Dad, I stripped my bed when I got up this morning…….I know,  I could get a certificate for changing bed skills”.

Despite us being told all about the things Emily wouldn’t be able to do, she has already done so much more and has not just survived – she has thrived! She’s amazing!

Now where did I put that Abba CD?..........


Emily in Northumberland 2013


  1. A post all parents should read. Thank you Paul, from all the parents walking behind you on this road.
    I used that Abba song on a video post I did recently. I was made to think of it as I put some of Natty's outgrown clothes in the loft....

  2. Thanks Hayley, that's very appreciated. Yes the song is so poignant and helps us not to miss the beauty in each day, especially the one's where nothing significant or memorable happens. x