LIMITLESS. It’s a word I keep toying with, in fact I recently changed my Instagram handle to include it. As a mum with secondary breast cancer and coming to terms with an uncertain future I feel a raging fire in my belly when it comes to living the biggest, boldest and most expansive life I can, for however long I can.
It’s taken me comfortably into my forties and three ‘yes, it’s cancer’ bombshells to find a level of confidence that finally has me saying ‘yes’ more than ‘no’ to life and all the wonders it has to offer. Having spent what feels like a lifetime shying away from opportunities and feeling almost afraid of being happy, I feel liberated and incredibly excited by the knowledge that I can now, despite less than ideal circumstances, do my best to shape my life in a direction that works for me.
But what about my kids? I’m having a shift around them as well and it’s probably long overdue. I’m a mum of nine year old triplets and a teenager. I’ve spent considerable chunks of the last decade being a ‘mum with cancer’. Add in the fact that for the first five years of the triplets life I was a single mum and you might understand why my approach to parenting has been strongly shaped and defined by my own experiences. My own struggle to survive. I’m the first to admit that I’ve spent most of the last decade winging it, stumbling through. My delicious trio and their big brother have been fed, clothed, cherished and adored but often left to their own devices. Long, boring rainy Sundays with no satisfactory answer to the dreaded “what are we doing today, Mum?’ question because I was simply physically not up to it or emotionally too drained, depressed and depleted to do the ‘right’ thing and get them all outside for brisk walks, muddy puddles and FUN. Oh, the pressure, the immense pressure to create magical memories, the kind we see as we scroll endlessly on our phones. It was and still is, at times, exhausting.
It goes without saying that I want my four to feel that the world is their oyster, that they can create for themselves happy and fulfilling lives. I want them to connect with their own individuality and blossom in ways that are unique to them. Academically? To be honest, that’s not my main focus. I’m never going to be the Tiger Mum. Financing more than the occasional after school club or ‘must-do’ activity has never really been an option and although I worry that Ella hasn’t had the
chance to find out if her destiny is to be the next Darcy Bussell or whether Theo really is the next big thing in Tai-Kwon-Do, somewhere, I trust that they’ll find their way and their natural talents and abilities and passions will emerge.
‘Whats for you won’t pass you by’ they say and hopefully, that’s true. But, what I do feel passionately and Tiger Mum-ish about is that they absolutely believe in their own capabilities. That they feel powerful and strong. That they step into adulthood unafraid to take up their own space with a rooted knowledge that life is theirs for the taking and that their potential is, yep, you’ve guessed it – limitless. They’ve had life experiences that I wish I could have protected them from. Their mum is sick and I can’t begin to imagine how that must feel for them at such a tender age. Their biological dad is absent and although they now have a wonderful step father and home life is stable, it’s still not a set of circumstances I imagined for us all.
As I write these last few lines (a good few weeks later than when I started) I’m recovering from lung surgery. A partial lobectomy to be precise. Physically, I’m bouncing back pretty damn well – my body, once more, rising to the challenge of major surgery, morphine and the like. Emotionally? If you really want to know, I’m a bit knocked for six. Feeling less Limitless and more Limited than I care to admit. I’m pretty sure it’s only temporary but I’ve currently forgotten that feeling of ‘YES’! and am floundering around somewhere in the middle of ‘Ugh’ and ‘Meh’ with quite a few blubbery tears thrown in.
I’ll get my mojo back though. I’m going to make sure of it. For me and for my four. To show them that Mum can keep rising up despite the knocks and that they certainly can too. That whatever life throws at them, they’ll not only survive, but thrive and that wobbles here and then are absolutely, most definitely allowed.