Adventures in Parenthood
A word of warning: there's not a whole lot of MS in this blog.
When I was first diagnosed, one of our first questions was about children. We were engaged to be married and we were getting to that stage of life when it becomes one of those conversations that couples can have - "biological clocks" and all that.
Our daughter is just coming up on her 3rd birthday now. When my wife was expecting I knew that she would make a great parent - but me? I wasn't so sure. And not just because of my health.
People told me that nothing can prepare you for the love that you will feel for your child. And they were so right. She's been a joy (pretty much!) since she was born. I surprised myself with the amount I could do in the early days on only a couple of hours sleep. And I loved the fact that I realized that life wasn't all about me anymore.
Which is why it was so galling that my last relapse coincided with her first birthday. This relapse robbed me of all the confidence I had – aside from the fact that I pretty much missed her birthday, when I began to regain my health I didn’t even feel able to take her for a walk to the corner shop.
None of these things happened and I’m almost embarrassed to write them down, because they sound so ridiculous from where I am now.
My wife is our daughter’s full-time caregiver (and, to an extent, mine too) – I’m lucky that we live near to my work so I get to see my daughter more than most working parents. But she does love doing STUFF with her daddy.
So, in the time since my last relapse, aside from silly little walks, we’ve regularly been swimming together (hilariously, the first time we went on our own, I somehow managed to forget her inflatable armbands – THAT was a stressful half-hour’s swim, I can tell you).
This last weekend we went to a puppet show together (honestly, the show was pretty rough and the whole thing was barely-controlled chaos but she loved it). And then we went home and had a nap together on the sofa.
So what has all this got to do with my MS?
The truth is NOTHING (apart from maybe the nap...).
And if you flip that, you’ll find that the reverse is true – my MS does not have SOMETHING to do with EVERY SINGLE part of my life. Sometimes it’s just not an issue.
I know that I’m lucky in this and it won’t the case for everybody in this particularly leaky boat of ours. And sometimes my MS does rear its head and stamp on our plans.
But if anyone reading this has been diagnosed recently, I would want to urge them to not be preoccupied with thinking about what might happen to them in the months and years ahead.
Yes, there might be unscheduled naps and necessary adaptations and altered plans and compromises and stumbles along the way.
But we’ve all still got a good amount of living to do. And I’ll be damned if I’ll ever again let my health stop me from being the best dad I can.
Who can relate? "Just because I could do something last year, last month, last week or yesterday doesn’t mean I can do it today. Also, it doesn’t mean I can’t."