“It will get easier,” they said. Once he gets past the ‘two year old functioning as a new-born’ phase and into the ‘five year old functioning as a one year old’ phase it will be more rewarding, less thankless, more fun. Of course, there’s no guarantee he ever will move on from his present stage of development. He may stay like this for his lifetime. He may regress. But it got me thinking: When will it start to get easier? How will I know when I’ve passed the hardest point?
It’s hard to sit on a cold chair in a dark MRI suite and be told your unborn baby will never walk, talk or feed himself.
It’s hard to leave your baby girl with her grandparents while you thrash out with your partner whether to keep that baby.
It’s hard to sit in a special needs group with him and realise he is the least able child in the room.
It’s hard to hold him late into the night, coughing and coughing, struggling to breathe, vomiting.
It’s hard to hold his writhing little body down until a general anaesthetic takes effect.
It’s hard to cry down the phone at the DWP for delaying your carer’s allowance yet again.
It’s hard to watch all your mum friends move on and go back to work.
It’s hard to see your little girl sitting colouring pictures in A&E when she should be at her swimming lesson.
It’s hard. But the same friends who said “it will get easier” also said “try to enjoy him now.” There’s no point wishing these days away, waiting for some hypothetical time when it gets easier, and missing all the enjoyment to be had between the hard times. Because:
It’s easy to be with him.
It’s beautiful to cuddle him.
It’s inspiring to be part of a community of parents and carers – local and further afield.
It’s exhilarating to try carve out a new career niche for myself that fits both my work aspirations and parenting commitments.
It’s comforting to see his big sister take his hand.
It’s enchanting to watch him smile at a sunbeam coming through the window that no-one else has noticed.
So I scoop him up and dance around the kitchen to Radio 2, just because I like the song they are playing and I know he likes to dance (and there is no one to see). And I realise, life is just a series of moments like this. Hard moments and easy moments. Fun moments and melancholic moments. Moments we’d rather forget and moments we’ll treasure forever. Incomparable moments. How will I know when I’ve passed the hardest point? I won’t, so I just have to try and enjoy the journey.