I hate cancer and what it's taken from me, but it's also given me something quite special
It’s that time of year when posts about how sad it is that summer is over, and how much parents will miss their children, pop up on social media.
I used to think those parents were a bit odd. I used to read their posts and think, “Ha, I won’t miss my kids, I'm counting down the days till they go back to school”. I mean, who wants to listen to the bickering? How many times can you find a new activity for a bored, whiny child? Nothing gets done, the house looks like a bomb site and the gin stock runs dangerously low – yup, I used to count down the days.
We’re told not to wish time away, that we get 18 precious summers with our kids. You think I’m going to disagree here – well, I’m not, I’m going to tell you all those people that say children grow up too fast are right.
I look at my 11-year-old son Joseph and 9-year-old daughter Abigail and it feels like only yesterday I had a toddler and a baby. How is it even possible my teeny tiny baby girl is so full of sass and attitude? How did my cute little boy end up wearing bigger shoes than mine?
There is one thing I will disagree with: I don’t think we get as many as 18 precious summers with our kids.
Joseph is about to start secondary school at The Bishop's Stortford High School, and I'm already seeing signs that our summers together may be a thing of the past. I see much less of him than his little sister. OK, he's still in the house most of the time, but he really isn't interested in coming out and doing things with me. No, he would much rather stay home and talk to his mates on the Xbox. How long will it be before he is out with his mates and I see him only when he has run out of cash or needs something?
Then there's the fact that we don’t actually know how many summers we will get anyway. Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, and I have cancer hanging over my head, threatening to steal my summers away. So in reality we probably get around 12 to 14 precious summers with our kids before they have better things to do than spend theirs with us – and that's if we're lucky enough to see all 12 to 14 of those summers ourselves.
This summer I've been making the most of the fact that Abigail is now sharing my hobby of horse riding (thank you, Free Rein, a ridiculous Netflix series about kids with ponies that every 9-year-old girl I know loves).
We're lucky enough to have our own ponies so we've been able to spend the long sunny summer days at Pony Club, or just riding down the road together enjoying the local countryside. I've loved every second of watching Abigail learn to ride: her first canter, her first jump – for me, it’s as special as those first steps they take as toddlers. I didn’t enjoy her first fall and her first broken bone so much, but hey, it comes with the territory!
I feel like I haven’t done enough with Joseph – I really need to learn to play football or Fortnite! I've tried Fortnite. It resulted in Joseph laughing at me a lot and removing the Xbox controller from my clutches while shaking his head.
We may not have a common hobby, and I might not be cool enough for him to want to spend all summer with me, but I do enjoy his company as he has grown into a kind young man with a great sense of humour. I treasure the times he chooses to sit and chat to me, even if it does mean he's gently teasing me and testing out his witty retorts on his not-so-sharp-these-days mother.
I don’t spend the summer counting down the days until my kids return to school any more. Instead, I sit here in disbelief that it's 'back to school' time already, that I won’t have my two little companions around the house to frustrate me and warm my heart in equal measure.
I'm sad the summer is over, I'll miss my children when they're back in school. I don’t know if I'll get next summer with my babies, but I do know that life is too short to wish any time away and that every day is precious, not just the summers.
I’m just sorry it took cancer to make me sit back and truly appreciate what I have, but at the same time I'm grateful for the new light in which I see my life and my family.
I hate cancer and what it has taken from me, but I cannot deny that it has also given me something quite special: a new appreciation of life and those I love.