Perspective — by Gina

Today is a gorgeous day; blue skies, sunny, 61 degrees – quite a welcome departure from the snow and storms we’ve had so recently. You wouldn’t think that just this past weekend was a storm that took down power lines and trees every few blocks in the northeast. I can even hear the sound of spring – kids happily playing outside after a long winter indoors.

But despite the bright weather, today is also a dark day. Today I heard the news that a friend’s child is losing his battle with cancer.

My eyes teared up as chills ran down my spine. I wondered how the parents are going to get through it, and how frightened and utterly devastated they all must be. I said a silent prayer for them. But what can you really say or do at a time like this – when someone’s world is crashing down around them, when their heart is surely breaking into a million pieces?

For me, this is one of those moments that “puts it all in perspective”… in a big way.

I’d been having a rough week with my daughter, Gianna. Between racing around to get to my full time job on time, nursing her through her most recent cold, chasing her around the house with Tylenol and nose spray, dealing with her tantrums and the worst part, hardly getting any sleep all week. She has been scared of sleeping alone in her room, and has been finding her way out of bed and downstairs asking for.. well.. you name it -another cup of water, some company, the option to sleep with me and my husband in our bed. This week, my patience has been worn thin and my energy even thinner. While I was at work one day, Gianna discovered my permanent markers and decided to decorate her arms, hands and knees with them. A trying week, that is, until you are reminded of what a trying week truly is… and someone helps you to put your own trivial complaints into perspective.

So tonight I will give my daughter a big hug, and probably kiss her so much she wipes her face, sneering, “Ugh! I don’t like kisses!”

Today, my heart goes out to all the parents out there facing the truly unfaceable. It is not until I became a mom that I understood what my sister, herself a mother, meant when she told me, “Congratulations. Now your heart exists outside your body.” I have never felt such incredible emotions in my life until having a child… the highs and lows of pure love, true joy, fierce strength, and utter sorrow. Your heart is literally out of your control. No wonder we parents are always exhausted. It is not just the physical and the day-to-day errands, school, etc. – I’m convinced it is the emotional exhaustion that wears us out. Loving someone so totally and completely with all your heart is a risky business, despite all we get in return.

“Later moms” face the unique challenge of dealing with the fear that we may not be around for our kids due to our advanced age, and hand in hand with that fear comes regret for not having become parents earlier in our lives. Again, for me, hearing today’s sad news puts the “later mom remorse” smack into its rightful place. The back of my mind, way far back so I can focus on the important stuff: loving and caring for my child today, not worrying so much about what in our lives is “not right”, living in the present, and being incredibly grateful for the messy playroom, the runny nose I’ve wiped what seems like fifty times today, and yes, even the misdirected permanent marker.