Losing fitness, losing time, losing family and what matters most.
In the midst of squeezing life into a coat that is a bit tight, it’s easy to forget what really matters. I’ve not written here for over a year because I’ve tried to fit too much in and something had to give — which has been writing here, and as my running times show, in latter months it’s been my fitness too.
I always knew that this status quo was temporary and took comfort in that fact. Visualising that after my day-job contract was over (which should have been some time this coming September) I’d be able to re-focus and re-gain my fitness. But what if that opportunity never arose? I’ve been trying to be all the people: the mum, the wife, the colleague, the boss, the writer, the friend, the school liaison, the homework tutor. And so on. And all it’s resulted in is a shouty person who I don’t particularly like!
Then my cousin died.
I’m nowhere near first in line for grief, love him though I might in my own (slightly competitive) way. My heart is with Ben’s parents, wife, daughters and siblings — in no particular order since I’m acutely aware of the differentials of grief.
But I feel his loss keenly, even though we drifted in and out of each others company over the years. As the first born of two sisters, the link between us would exist for better or worse throughout our lifetimes and continues exponentially. We debated music together, smoked together, drank together. We both bore three girls. We both wept at musicals. We both ran. And ran and ran and ran.
It’s made me think about what defines a cousin.
Cousins are people who are forced together by genetics — ONLY OCCASIONALLY. Where a sibling is yours, always, for better or worse, a cousin skips in and out of your life while demanding some level of consistent relationship purely by virtue of heritage. It’s a bit odd really. But despite the weirdness, you love each other.
So what does this all mean? Why does it matter? It matters because Ben has formed me. He’s made me a better human and a better mum. His delight in his children and ability to put them above all else has enlightened me. It’s inspired and shamed me.
I’ve been working this extra job to try to get more: more stuff, more bricks & mortar, more bits & and pieces, more odds & ends. Feeling the stretch, I raged against Thatcher’s government; how it has laid the foundations of a world where both parents must continually slog at the grindstone and how this has ultimately caused my loss of fitness. Where it is impossible for an individual parent to be allowed the time to focus on their children’s growth, development and wellbeing.
Then my cousin died, and I realised that it’s up to us.
So next week, I stop the office work. I leave two months early from the job that thinks it is my gravity. I say NO to ‘earning potential’, to ‘luxury extras’, to ‘career progression’. Because Ben has made me see that the real world exists beyond these things. My children exist beyond these things. They want me. Not the stuff. Being present is so very much more important than providing more Smiggle paraphernalia. So this is what I’ll do. Be present.
To my dear cousin: the story doesn’t end here. You DID stuff. You MATTERED. You’re a total dude, always. X