my500words challenge : Day 6 – Dear Children

The challenge today is to “Write something that you wish someone would have told you 10 or 5 or even one year ago. 

Pay it forward. Share your best advice with the world. It can be for your children or just posterity in general.

So here it is.

Dear children

“If you are depressed,
you are living in the past.
If you are anxious,
you are living in the future.
If you are at peace,
you are living in the present.”
– Lao Tzu

I came across this quote yesterday. I think it’s a great quote and it’s stayed with me all day.

I wish I had read it before you were born because it might have showed me how to navigate our pregnancies and help me to become a calmer, less rigid parent.

*

What an experience becoming a Dad.

From the onset I was plunged into a world that I knew absolutely nothing about. In many ways it must be easier to be a prospective Dad these days because now we can Google this and Wikipedia that ; can’t we.

With the web we can learn absolutely all we need to know about almost anything.

Take morning sickness for example.

Mum and I could always close the well eared paperback book and take it or leave it, but nowadays there is always one more link to click, one more webpage to read, or one more site to discover.

Then, if you’re not careful, you can slip over into the dark side and read alarming theories of how it might not be normal morning sickness at all. Perhaps some sort of rare illness or the result of eating too much of this particular processed food or the hazards of ingesting dangerous food additives.

Suddenly, it’s a whole new set of worries that you hadn’t even contemplated and you keep on clicking, and clicking until you gasp for breath, while you stop to breathe, or distracted, scratch an itch and look away from the screen.

Then you realise that you are no longer even sure of what you had started to look for.

Yes it can get pretty worrying.

*

Then there was the ultrasound.

I remember turning it around and around to make some sort of sense from that small but precious black and white Polaroid image.

It was a magical object and drew me even nearer to you both but in all honesty it was more of an abstract black and white image that my eyes glanced over and squinted at, a bit like you do when you try and find the third dimension from a page of a Magic Eye Book.

I’ve seen the photo-images you get these days and they don’t leave a lot to the imagination do they? Such a lot to marvel over and such a lot to fret about.

Is the head too large, is that a frown, is that even a normal position the baby is in?

Beyond the magic of the image there’s a world of dark possibilities, if you allow yourself go there.

An ever growing mound of what-ifs and if-ever’s.

Such a lot to worry about.

These are just two examples, and I won’t list any more, otherwise it would take me too long to get to the point.

*

I wonder if Lao Tzu gave any thought to pregnancy while writing down his thoughts?

To my mind, most pregnancies are a whirlwind of the unknown, with little time to reflect on what happened last month, last week, or even yesterday.

Each day of  our pregnancy, because it had gradually embedded itself into the very core of our couple, arrived with a new set of challenges, accelerating, as it did, towards childbirth, with ever increasing velocity.

Hardly any time at all to reflect upon what might have been, or even to have many regrets, but secretly sure, and with a sense of grim foreboding, that these would probably surface later in those quiet moments, when doubts and regrets tend to creep out of the shadows.

Those I should-have and why didn’t-I moments.

*

Let’s not forget the wonderful times though, as I move on and wedge myself once again into that comfortable place between the past and the future.

My memory serves these moments as snapshots, which are, I suppose, the selfies of the past.

Me smiling like an idiot, with my ear pressed to your Mum’s baby bump, searching for your heartbeat.

My hand posed gently on the warmth of your Mum’s belly, waiting for you to kick back.

Me basking in Mum’s incredible glow, squeezing softly against her to get as close to you as our separate bodies allowed, so eager and excited for you to come and say hello.

*

These wonderful moments linger now, memories that will never fade, memories that I cherish.

I can tell you all you want about them, and more, if you wish, but if you don’t mind, I’ll keep them close to my heart.

They are mine to savour.

My own slices of heaven on earth.

The past transported by love to the present with no thoughts of tomorrow.

(766 words)

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