Sometimes family life is all about grabbing the little moments where you can, in amongst the busyness of life, and the overwhelm that always seems to be come at some point in the run-up to Christmas. This month has been a tough one in so many ways. We’ve found the second lockdown harder than the first in many ways and, of course, the run-up to Christmas is a tough time anyway without Jessica without having to also cope with the feelings of isolation and anxiety that come with living through a pandemic.
As the festive season gets closer, my to-do list seems to grow more and more by the day and I find myself juggling too many balls. Sometimes it takes a little moment to stop me in my tracks and question how many of those tasks on that list are really necessary. Last week, Sophie pulled me up short at bedtime when she said “I wish you would sit and play with me more, Mummy, and do crafts with me. You’re always too busy now.”
It made me realise that there have been a lot of times lately when I’ve said “later” or “in a minute” and that “later” hasn’t actually become “now”. So now I’m trying to make an effort to stop for a while, to push that to-do list to one side for a while and make the time to sit at the table and colour decorations together, or to call everyone upstairs for a pillow fight. Little moments that mean the world to my children – and we all feel happier when we take that time to grab them.
Being over-busy sometimes also means that I don’t make time for Jessica either, or for the space I still need to allow myself to feel the sadness of life without her, to focus on my memories and to just miss her. I’m reminded of something that a friend told me a while back – that Jessica still needs my attention, just like Sophie and Thomas do, and like them if I don’t give her that time and attention, she’ll keep calling more and more loudly. When I don’t give Jessica her time too, that underlying grief that is always there builds up until it becomes overwhelming. There have certainly been days this month when grief has hit hard and I feel like I’m suddenly drowning in my grief. I know there will always be days like this and that the storms of grief come and go. But when I make time for Jessica, those storms often feel much easier to navigate.
This month has been all about learning to stop and breathe. To take the time to enjoy family life. To step off the treadmill, push aside the to-do list and focus on what really matters. Even if it is just grabbing a few moments here and there to make magical memories together.