July 11, 2012

The nest egg.

I watched the family of this poor boy try to find words to convey their trauma and sadness on TV this morning. I watched the camera pan to his siblings sitting to the left of their bewildered parents and I wondered where would they go from here. Not in the years to come but today. Where would you turn if you lost one of your lights? The news reports explained that Thomas was out on his first night to popular area of Sydney, the CCTV footage showed him walking hand in hand with his girlfriend and then he steps out of camera. The power of knowing what happens next makes you want to press pause and rewind over and over again almost trying to keep him in view, keep him safe.

I can clearly remember sitting with a family a few years back in counselling. I had already been working for a few years with people living with life altering traumas – no two stories were the same, they all showed different traits of resilience, of strength. The family and I were talking about the grief of losing a child – replaying over and over the events that led to the sadness, the rawness of approaching anniversaries and that impending doom that nothing would ever be the same ever again. It was an uncomfortable place for me to be sitting too – I was heavily pregnant with my first child and trying my hardest to be supportive and engaging while my own baby squirmed inside of me. I remember as we catalogued the pain they were experiencing – both physical and emotional – that it was like a nest egg. Parenting is like having a nest egg – a giant fund that you contribute to for years and years only for to find yourself one day looking in and realising that it had all vanished in the blink of an eye. That all those years of juggling, of working hard and of hoping for that day that you could sit back and reap the rewards, were stolen from you. I cant imagine walking along one path for so long and then the world throw you a giant detour.

If you take a moment to read the blogs, the magazines, the news sites about parenting you find that the elusive work life balance gets thrown around on a daily basis. We wish away the early years full of sleep deprivation and tantrums, we struggle through the primary school years where it feels like the bell rings almost 5 minutes after school starts  and then we hold our breath as kids reach the years where they dip their toes in the world of independence.

There is no way of holding them back, of keeping them wrapped up at home because like many of us; we went out at night, we found ourselves in precarious situations and many are still here to tell the story. The randomness of it all means that there can be no preparation for it. No amount of counselling or supportive words changes what has happened. So sad.

How do you juggle the need for kids to assert their independence with your fear of what could happen to them?


Join the conversation! 11 Comments

  1. Standing and applauding. This is SUCH a powerful and invaluable post for people to absorb.

    I find myself wondering if more people had the *true* knowledge of that nest egg being whipped away from them – great analogy, by the way – would they be so petty? Would they be so flippant? Would they wish away so many annoyances of the early years (and beyond)? I know much of it is said in jest and, hey, I get swept up in it myself. It’s a bit of a tender trap; part and parcel of being a parent means that some days, when you really need it, you can complain and you will hear resounding “I hear you”s. But honestly, I don’t think 50% of us truly get what agony it is to walk through life with one of the lights – your lights – snuffed out.

    How do I juggle it? We have somehow raised a very independent free-thinking girl, despite my desperation (which I still get) over worrying if she’s still breathing. She is identical (even now) to the sister she never met and when her face is relaxed in sleep, it’s when it hits me hard. How very similar they are. How very tenuous everyone’s life is. As she gets older, I know it will get so much harder. I’m not sure how I will cope, but cope I will. Because I already know: Love is not enough to keep them here if it’s their time to go, whether they were never born breathing, or 4 weeks old, or 14 years old, or 44 years old. And that in itself takes so much fear out of it (for me).

    • You would know all too well what this all means K. How no matter what you dont you dont have control over what happens – surrendering to it and knowing you cant find it shows how insightful you are. Love x

  2. Such a fabulous and important post…

    I gave up on the BS of ‘balance’ long ago… I can’t balance anything because my entire being is so heavily weighted towards those I love. And I certainly can’t balance my constant fear and worry with letting those I love live their lives. I want so much to wrap them in cotton wool and never let them leave the house, but I know that would not be loving them… so I stuff all the worry and fear deep down and try to sit on it as best I can. I try to rationalise with it and tell it that I can do is love them now, here, in this moment, the way they are… and let whatever will be… be…. but man I hate it.

    • I like your line Kate about how impossible it is to balance when the bias is always going to lean towards your babies. Im looking for a solution to all the stuff Ive shoved down – one day its going to bubble back up

  3. What an amazingly conveyed post. I don’t know this all intimately but I’ve always been hyper aware of how quickly each phase will pass with my children. It was the one thing my Mum used to tell us growing up, that she wanted us (& her) to enjoy each part of our life for what it was, not wishing we were older or bigger. I’ve found that fairly “easy” to think of with my two. I have found the balance of independence vs protectiveness more difficult though. I’m a born worrier. Mr though is happy to let the “leash” a little looser than me so I like to think we have a good balance. I sometimes have to stop myself being over protective of my boys, especially with physical things thatched attempt. I am however, super happy to encourage independent thought! We have rather robust discussions at ours even though our oldest isn’t quite 4.

  4. I’ve often wondered about how difficult it will be to let go, after having given this generation the most over-protected childhood ever, now my daughter is 15 I am entering into that era where I have to take a deep breath and hope luck, fate whatever you call it is in our side. Yet I watch the completely senseless tragedy on my tv and my heart aches for the parents having to bury their son, and the young man who should be here partying, studying, working, loving and growing up.

    • Its so true Janine. We talk about the need to not hover, to not over-involve ourselves, but when random things happen over-involving seems like the logical solution. Thanks for commenting x

  5. right now, I am watching my first little egg stand on the edge of our nest and preparing to fly. Every bone in my body wants to hold him down, keep him with me, keep him ‘safe’. I know in my saner moments that he needs to find his own way but the fact is, faced with my first childs flight of independence, I just desperately want to stop time and keep us exactly where we are… the future and the big bad world is so scary and unknown and he is tender and young and unworldy. I do not have balance, I do not have confidence. All I have right now is fear and the unshakable feeling that I have not prepared him well for adulthood.

    • oh Lisa. Thats exactly what I was trying to convey with the post. There is no space for me between stepping back and letting go, I have no tips, no wisdom, no words that will help. I think that your insight shows that you have probably prepared him more than you realise. Thanks for visiting x

  6. Sarah, I love this post so much. And I can relate to it so much too. The randomness of tragedy is something I’m still coming to terms with. When it comes to our children – you’ve expressed the agonizing helplessness of wanting to protect them.


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Loss, Parenting