featured post – “at odds” by all & sundry

I’m going to step outside out usual format and feature a post by a blogger not on the PAIL blogroll. (Although, the author being on the blogroll is definitely *not* a requirement to submit a post you would like to see featured. If you think it’s important, then it probably is!) In fact, this post is not even remotely about the ALI journey, but the topic discussed is certainly a common thread in the ALI community. So I’m going for it. (We are also going to leave comments here OPEN for discussion of *your* experiences with this sort of thing and hopefully help you find someone else who has been in your shoes. Of course, as always, we strongly encourage you to visit the original author of the post I am going to talk about and add your thoughts.)

Alright then.

Lately, my patience with my toddler is waifer thin. I have turned into Asshole Yelling Mum and it is not pretty. I find myself thinking that I need a newborn like I need a hole in the head several times a day. Which has absolutely nothing to do with being ungrateful and everything to do with being overwhelmed in the moment. Being completely bogged down in the minutia of day to day existence but also being paralyzed with fear at the amorphously defined prospect of life with two children under the age of two. It’s string theory, for Mums. (Hint: string theory tries to reconcile how subatomic particles work and how the ENTIRE universe works into one simple, unified theory. Chew on that for a while.)

I have written before about perspective using the humour of The Bloggess as a framework. In her post “At Odds“,  Linda from All & Sundry also recently tackled the notion of perspective as it relates to parenting. Her approach to the topic and laidback voice appealed to me very much and has kept me thinking about this post for a while. As a a quick backgrounder, she recounts a trip to a children’s hospital for the purpose of her son being involved in a clinical study:

Going to the children’s hospital, though … man. My heart started hammering around in my chest as we headed in and I could see kids here and there who weren’t so fine… and jesus, I felt like the world’s biggest asshole, welling up as I walked the halls with my perfectly healthy, chatty toddler.

She goes on to talk about being irritated with him for normal toddler stuff within the hour. But the point, of course, is that being exposed to something that your current self deems to be unbearable should grant you the perspective to be incredibly grateful for what your current self has. That it can make us feel like, well, assholes when we compare our current “easy” state of affairs to those of others. (Is “Just be grateful that…/At least you have…” an event at the Pain Olympics? I don’t know, but both are certainly at play both within the ALI community and in our interactions with others about ALI. )

When this post found its way to my inbox, I was something of a hot mess. After reading it, I became I hot mess for completely different reasons. My brother died of a “childhood” cancer. He was the bald kid with the shadowy eyes. But you know what? When my toddler is wailing because he has a fever and a stuffy nose, reminding myself that “At least he doesn’t have cancer!” does absolutely nothing to help me cope in that moment. That kind of perspective isn’t helpful. Just as “Why can’t you just be grateful that at least you have a baby now?” isn’t helpful when trying to come to terms with your ALI journey. It depends on your vantage point. Sometimes, objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.

… I was thinking about perspective lately, and how slippery it is to hold onto. I bitched and moaned mightily about how long this winter break from school has been, then I blinked back tears as Riley climbed on the bus this morning. Last night I couldn’t wait for the kids to go to bed, then I sat on the couch and read someone’s blog post about their children approaching the teen years and how hard things are getting, and I ran back into my boys’ bedrooms to kiss their confused, sleepy faces.

Yes. This. EXACTLY.

Perspective is in the eye of the beholder, and you can’t very well see it with your head down. Nor will you remember it very long when you have to turn away and get back to real life. I guess for me, perspective in terms of parenting really means just getting through the day with a loose plan for tomorrow. Eyes on the road. It reminds me of some lyrics from an Ani DiFranco song that I used to clutch to my chest pretty tightly:

“Cause when I look around
I think this, this is good enough
And I try to laugh
At whatever life brings
Cause when I look down
I just miss all the good stuff
When I look up
I just trip over things”

I find myself ending off much like Linda does… I don’t really know where I am going with this. It is a fine balance, to honour where you are without diminishing where you were.


What is your perspective on perspective?

Be sure to visit Linda’s post “At Odds” @ All & Sundry. It’s a good read.

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