I turned 40 today, and while my children slept, and the house was gloriously quiet, I decided to spend a bit of my birthday thinking about what my life has taught me so far. Here are the first 40 things that came to mind.
- Growing old is a privilege that we should never stop appreciating no matter how many wrinkles we see in the mirror.
- Happiness is a choice that we make each morning, it is not something that will be delivered to your door gift wrapped. Happy people aren’t luckier than you, they just choose to define their lives by the good things in it.
- Forgive your family, your friends and the people you meet at different points in your life for not being perfect. We all make mistakes, none of us want to be defined by them. Remember instead all the times they got it right and judge them on those terms.
- Hear people’s intentions rather than their words.
- You cannot expect other people to have had the same life experience that you do – don’t get angry if someone doesn’t ‘get it’, educate them.
- Our children are our best teachers. They remind us what it is to be part of the world and ground us to what is important, that is until we educate it out of them. We should never become so sure of our superiority that we forget to listen to them.
- You can make a big difference to someone by doing the the smallest of things.
- There is not always smoke without fire.
- Since the very beginning humanity has always shaped its understanding of the world through the telling and sharing of stories. Never be afraid to become the story teller and help shape the future .
- There is beauty in the smallest thing, you just have to learn to see it.
- Life should not be measured in how many times you’re knocked down, but by how many times you’ve dusted yourself off and carried on.
- Good people can make bad decisions.
- Feeling sorry for yourself never changes your situation for the better or changes the events of the past, you just give the situation permission to carry on making you miserable into the future.
- One person can make a big difference.
- Showing other people kindness makes you feel just as good as the person you’ve helped.
- Don’t make anyone else responsible for your own happiness. Almost anyone that has tried one would say escape rooms are fun. Part adventure, part intriguing storyline, and an assemblage of puzzles and riddles you and/or your team need to solve to make your escape, learn more about escape rooms in Dallas, TX and try one today!
- There is no such thing as luck. Luck is nothing more than an opportunity that is seized. Be brave and take opportunities wherever you see them. Shoot your hand up and volunteer for every opportunity that life throws at you, without hesitating to be nervous, unsure or afraid.
- Life is about learning, we should never lose sight of that and never stop challenging ourselves to be better.
- True friends are people who challenge, inspire, support and cherish you. They are precious.
- You can get used to anything, no matter how alien it may feel at first.
- The internet is a powerful tool, but must be treated with caution. Prioritize privacy on the internet.
- Pick your battles.
- It is not ok for people to refer to you as ‘mum’ when they a) have not come into your life as a result of agonising hours in labour b) are perfectly capable of asking you how you would like them to refer to you c) are relying on your expertise to help them do their job and d) you have made the effort to address them by their name rather than their job title.
- You are always stronger than you think you are.
- As a parent, a sense of humour is your best defence mechanism against everything that life might throw at you.
- There are certain situations were it is ok to talk about poo while you are eating dinner, especially when a poo is something to celebrate in your family.
- Asking for help can be the hardest hurdle to overcome when you are a parent of a child with special needs.
- Uniqueness is something to be celebrated. Whilst every parent wishes for a ‘healthy’ child, I am thankful that life finds a way of giving us diversity despite our fear of it.
- Being a lateral thinker has helped me more than any skill I learnt in school. Fostering children’s ability to see a problem not as a barrier, but as a puzzle that needs solving is key to giving them independence, resilience and optimism.
- Just because something isn’t recorded in a medical book or a medical journal, doesn’t mean that the child in front of you isn’t going to do it anyway. Complex children don’t read the medical books.
- Facebook lies. Those happy family photos that your friends are posting do not tell the story of the argument over the computer game that morning, the weetabix that was scraped out of the hair before the photo was taken, and the stink given off by a nappy that desperately needed to be changed while the children were being told to ‘smile for the camera’.
- You can get an interesting rainbow effect in a gastric drainage bag if you feed your child skittles or tutti frooties.
- The parenting community is one of the best resources for the latest research and novel techniques for dealing with issues faced by special needs children and children with complex health needs. The parents are more motivated and better communicators than most doctors and they have learnt to respect the wealth of expertise that exists amongst their peers.
- Accepting life as a parent of a special needs child is a process. Parents often feed off posts which bemoan our lot in life and vilify other people for not ‘getting it’. Don’t let the sense of belonging that is found in shared misery define your view of your family for you though. Your energy is better spent connecting with people that will help you see the amazing journey you are taking, and help you take one step at a time. You also run the risk of making well intentioned people too scared of offending you to take the time to get to know you.
- Telling people what they are doing wrong is the fastest way to get them to stop listening to you.
- Adversity is good for you. How can you appreciate how wonderful things are if you have nothing to compare it with?
- Competitive parenting is never a great way of trying to celebrate your child’s successes, especially as it usually says more about the parents than it does the child.
- Competitive parenting in the special needs world is a bizarre sport of one-upmanship over who has the most problematic child and shittiest life. It can be toxic enough to destroy entire communities. If you find yourself in a conversation where you are feel the need to emphasise just how much help your child needs, or worse, how lucky another parent is, pause to ask yourself what you are hoping to achieve and why it matters to you to be seen in that way.
- Pain, suffering, hardship, joy, happiness, appreciation, beauty is all relative. We have no right to judge other people for how they are feeling. Someone’s fear over their child spending the night in hospital for croup is just as valid as someone’s fear for their child who is about to undergo major surgery. We owe it to each other to respect that.
- Your life is what you choose it to be, not the cards you have been dealt. Choose to celebrate this complex, amazing and ridiculous life you’ve been given with all the gusto it deserves.
To celebrate 40 years Renata is raising money for SWAN UK and Post Pals. If you’ve enjoyed this post please consider making a donation to two great charities by clicking here
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Eloquent as ever & given me a few moments of “Hmnnn, yes I need to remember that” as well as more than the odd chortle happy birthday again Renata
Thanks Lisa x
Can I add a 41st?! Time is whizzing by and things can be all-consuming; but can we make a pledge to see a bit more of each other in the future? 🙂
Absolutely Jo x
Wonderful words x
What a brilliant post! Thank you for those forty things. Wishing you a belated Happy Birthday xx
Not belated at all! It’s my birthday today ?
I’m a little ahead of you in years so need to challenge myself to find 6 more things ? maybe when my young man is in bed?!!
Do tell me when you think of them Sarah x
Beautiful and thought provoking as ever. My eyes are leaking and the screens gone blurry, interspersed with some giggles. Like Lisa some things I must remember. Happy birthday Renata x
Thank you Emma, I thought you might be able to identify with a few of them at least x
Well said, I like the bit about luck, I hadn’t thought of it like that! And happy birthday x
First of all Happy Birthday. Secondly, thank you for writing this when I needed it most. It’s as though you were reading my mind. X
Thank you Emma, hope things are ok?
Omg your post is amazing please tell me you will write a book one day. You really do have such talent when it comes to words and could inspire anyone. Very in awe at the min. Hope you had a fab birthday. Take care xxxx
First aim is to try and find the time to start writing again Sarah x
Sorry just read an earlier post. Happy birthday for today xxxxxx
No 7 & no 27 …. that’s what made me think… and I hope it does to others who are always ‘too busy’
Happy 40th birthday Renata …. may life be kind as you are. x
Thank you Mel x
Brilliant writing …. everyone should read this
Thanks Denise x
40 great points from a woman with so much wisdom in her young, beautiful head.
Welcome to being in your forties. I look forward (I hope) to reading the extra ones you come up with when you’re fifty!
Happy birthday, dear friend.
Renata, I love you. I know you and trust you as a friend. I admire you as a parent, follow your lead as an ‘SEN’ parent. This post is perfection. My lip was wobbling through the teens but by 34 you had me bawling. Happy 40th dear privileged friend. x
Great list! Growing old is good… getting wiser and better. Wish we could do something about the wrinkles though.
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