My 18 year old daughter sat griping at me today, complaining that I shouldn’t talk when she’s watching a movie. I said, “Babe, movies can be paused, you can’t pause life.”
This week I’m talking about families and living in the moment. The four beautiful girls above are my children and over the past 26 years we have been to heaven, hell and every place in between – emotionally. It was indeed a ride worth taking and there is nothing I would change about them or the past.
Of course it’s impossible to rewind life. We all know this and yet a lot of the time we live as if it is possible. If only we’d all inherited the skill Tim Lake had in ‘About Time’ being able to go back in time and relive or alter the past. Alas, even he eventually recognised the importance of simply living each day as if it were his last. Obviously let’s be realistic, it’s not like we can blow all our cash, tell people we dislike to ‘go procreate’ and head off to the Caribbean, we have responsibilities. I’m talking about the little things, the little moments that, looking back, we realise were the big moments. Hindsight is a great thing.
Now far be it for me to lay any claim to being the worlds best parent. I don’t know all the answers, as I frequently told my eldest child Rose, I may occasionally make a mess of things, you’re the first 12, 16, 18 year old I’ve ever had.
This, I learned, was one of the best lessons I could have taught my girls, that we are all fallible, and actually by owning this we created an environment where it was ok to mess up once in a while.
But we did try to be good parents and that turned out to be a fairly decent job in the end. Of this we are incredibly proud.
We did our best to live in the moment.
We always ate dinner together at the dining table or breakfast table and dinner times became a time when we sat and talked, learned to take turns – or shout the loudest to be heard, we listened – or debated, we laughed – and occasionally cried, we chastised, praised and ‘discussed’ the necessity for rules. We played hangman on the whiteboard in the kitchen whilst waiting for the slowest eater to finish. We practised times tables and spellings, told jokes, shared riddles, discussed ideas and dreams and friends and enemies. But mostly we laughed – a lot. We never allowed phones at the table, which was much easier several years ago, but even then we let the answering machine pick up at mealtime, and as the years passed we banned mobiles at the dinner table, (this rule still applies, even with our two older girls when they come home to visit, and they are happy to keep up traditions).
Dinner time is family time.
A few years back, I was teaching a class of Year 1 children, that’s 5 and 6 year olds. During our little introduction to the lesson I asked them to raise their hand if they had a dinner table at home. Out of a class of 30 children 2 had a dinner table at home. I was flabbergasted to say the least. This meant that 28 out of 30 children regularly ate their dinner in front of the TV every night. This made me very sad indeed. If you have a choice between watching TV and talking to your children, how can there be choice? It’s got to be a no-brainer right?
If we live by the rule that if it can be paused or rewound then it can wait, life would suddenly become so much more meaningful. Life cannot wait, people are real, our children are real, they are ours for such a short time and they’re a long time grown.
(Our fridge at home with many photos from theme parks – collected over many years – don’t zoom in, there are some really embarrassing but funny ones in there!)
We weren’t particularly wealthy but we were rich in so many other ways. We went without holidays when we couldn’t afford them, and one summer I suggested my husband take his holiday in a different way. I suggested that he take every Thursday and Friday off over the 6 week summer holiday. We had days out every week, using supermarket vouchers to purchase theme park tickets, we went swimming at the local baths, and went to the park with our dog. The school holidays flew by and we spent so much quality time together. It turned out to be a very memorable summer indeed. Over the years we had many days out at theme parks.
Don’t get me wrong, we watched TV.
We all have days when Teletubbies or similar are a godsend when you’re tired, but we tried not to make it the norm. If we watched TV we watched together. For a long time Friday nights were movie nights, (my girls would often moan when I tried to sneak my book in and craftily read instead).
We all became avid Disney fans. It’s funny how each of our girls had a favourite movie for their age. With Rose it was Beauty and the Beast, Holly’s was The Lion King.
It was hilarious as she went through a phase where we had to lift her up like a little lion cub every time the movie started whilst ‘The Circle of Life’ blasted out. Meg’s was Hercules (in fact Meg got her name as we said Rose could pick one and she also loved Hercules and chose Meghara, we tweaked it to be Megan), and Beth’s was Monsters Inc, and for many years she was called ‘Boo’.
We would go to the park with our various dogs and play or feed the ducks and geese. I remember one time when Beth was about 3 and a half, we were feeding the Canadian Geese when they all decided to come up on the river bank. One gave me a gentle peck on my leg telling me to hurry up and hand over the bread, I suddenly realised that these birds were as tall as Beth and turned to tell her to run back a little only to find that she’d already taken off and was halfway down the path – not bothering to look back -leaving me to be eaten alive by the crazy and somewhat overzealous geese . Another time Meg, whilst feeding the ducks, didn’t notice the ground ended and stepped into the lake . It was a fairly cold day, but her daddy took off his socks and let her have them while he walked back with boots and no socks.
Birthday parties were a hoot – and were bloody exhausting for me! We had no production line ball pit parties, no, ours lasted many hours, with bouncy castles and face painting (by me) with bubble blowing machines in the garden and ham sandwiches, jelly, home made birthday cakes and bucket loads of fun.
We lived and learned and grew and throughout it all we tried to seize the day, carpe diem, savouring the time we have with our girls.
My girls at Thorpe Park last year
We all work so hard, like salmon swimming upstream, yet if we slowed down and learned to flow, learned to savour each day, hour, minute, moment, knowing that once it’s passed it can never be relived, we might just realise that the things in our lives that can actually be paused should be. For no amount of TV watching , Playstation gaming, or internet browsing can ever replace the feel of the sun on your skin, or wind in your hair, the joy of laughter, or the fun of talking, singing, dancing together. We live on this incredible Mother Earth, and are given so many free gifts in nature.
Each day is precious and sadly there is no rewind button for our lives, so live it to the best of your ability on the first take, savouring every moment you can.
Thank you for reading my ramblings, now go outside and play!
Peace & light to you all ૐ )0(