My boy walked me to hospital this week.
I say this not because it started out as anything special, in fact I suppose it was rather normal. Just another appointment, a check up that had been timed quite awkwardly in line with the school run and there was no other option than to take him with me. As we walked along and I held his hand I realised that I felt different somehow. Different to all of the other times that I had made that same walk over the past few months – this time I felt stronger.
It had been a funny old week.
The highs of the Race for Life, the emotion, and the overwhelming pride, all rounded right back to a fairly normal ‘run of the mill’ week. The old familiarity of the school and work routine began in earnest once more. The fact that my boy woke me first thing the day after the race and said that he wished that we could do it all again made me smile – albeit a tired smile. “It might take a while for me to recover from that one, but I would love to do it again – maybe next year you could run it with me?”
Don’t get me wrong I was fully expecting the slow start to the week, I knew that I had overdone it but I did not care. All of a sudden the end of the week seemed far off with a hospital appointment looming, followed by a birthday. I knew that the first thing to deal with would be that appointment with the boy in tow.
With all the rushing after school we had forgotten his water bottle and so our first job upon our arrival was to buy some water from the gift shop. As I was choosing his drink, he eyed the chocolate stand and looked sheepishly at me asking if he could have his favourite bar. “Please mummy?” he asked, unsure of what my answer might be. I agreed as I realised that this time we had together, although not ideal, was a rarity for both of us. We don’t often have the luxury of spending time together just the two of us and so I also bought him a magazine to try to keep him occupied.
We wandered to the waiting room, hand in hand and he chatted away asking me questions and telling me about his day at school. The room was full and it soon became apparent that they were running very late. I instantly began to regret taking my six year old into a situation where he would have to sit still for well over an hour. He read his magazine telling me in great detail about each player, then he sorted out his football cards that had come free with it. After a while, I suggested that he go over to look at the fish in the tall fish tank on the other side of the room. He stood there for a long time counting them and making faces at me through the glass which made me laugh. Eventually he returned and we sat drawing in the notebook from my handbag. Adamant that we needed to remember which level we had parked on he drew our car with the number on it and then he went on to draw the weather and our favourite thing… a rainbow.
Just then, right there in that moment, I had a swell of pride.
I realised that I am so proud of him and the boy he is growing up to be. He flashed me a giant smile as he chomped on his chocolate bar as he continued with his drawing and chattering. In his own little way he was managing to distract me and I found myself focusing my attention on him, and not the rest of the room. Before I knew it the appointment was over and it left me wondering why I had not ever taken him with me before? On that day he was my comfort. Of course I know why I had never taken him before, because I have tried to shield him from the realities of hospital and illness wherever I can. Perhaps he is becoming old enough to understand now I thought to myself as we walked back to our car. Of course we found it straight away, thanks to his perfect memory (another thing that I cannot always claim to have).
The next day was to be my birthday. In the waiting room we had drawn a birthday cake, and Noah pointed out that he could not fit anymore candles on it (!) I am not a typical birthday person, but I played along to the children’s excitement as they almost burst trying not to tell me of their surprises and plans. This year, more than most I am mindful that birthdays and family celebrations are something to be treasured. Instead of not wanting to get older, I am thankful that I reached another birthday and I am grateful to be lucky enough to share it with those who care about me. Age is a privilege.
‘Do not regret growing older, it is a privilege denied to many’ ~ Mark Twain