For five and a half years I had to leave my babies every other weekend, and drive (crying for them) for nearly three hours from Dublin to Belfast to care for my mum after her stroke. I would spend the next 36 hours confined in her bed-bound room, trying to converse with a woman who had loved me my whole life, but who could no longer speak to me. Then I would drive for nearly three hours home (crying for her). For five and a half years.
I’d had no choice.
My dad desperately needed support and a chance to get out of the house, and mum needed my love. My kids needed me, and my mum and dad needed me; my two families - the one I had created and one that had created me - needed me, and I was sandwiched between their care.
I felt trapped. I felt pulled. I felt choice-less.
And yet, now I know that even in that choice-less-ness, I was choosing.
I was making the choice to support my family. I was making the choice to care for mum the way she deserved. I was making the choice to give my girls all my attention when I was home, and to leave them in the capable care of their dad when I wasn’t.
We may feel we have no choice in life.
We may feel we have no choice in a relationship.
We may feel we have no choice in a job.
But what I've learned, is that doing nothing is still a choice. Or doing something that seems choiceness… it’s still a choice. So isn't it better to be in charge of your choices?
My mum was with me at Ruby’s birth. Four days later, she read my other girls Daisy and Poppy a bedtime story and gave them a cuddle. She rang me to say how much she couldn’t wait until I brought Ruby home the next day. She told me she loved me.
She never said my name again. She never told me she loved me again. She never cuddled my girls again. An hour after our call, she had a catastrophic stroke that left her permanently paralysed, brain damaged and in need of 24 hour care.
For five and a half years.
I had no choice over her state. But I had every choice over how I would respond to it.
I had no choice over my loss, but I had every choice over how that grief propelled me or held me back.
I had no choice over the needs of the people I loved, but I had every choice about how to address them.
It was the hardest 5 and a half years of my life. And although I felt trapped, and choiceness so many times, I know now, that I was always choosing.
I’ve come a long way since then. I went back to college to study psychology and coaching and now I choose to help women understand that they always have a choice.
Even if that choice hurts. Even if that choice is so fucking hard you feel you can’t keep going. And then you choose to keep going.
I hear so many women tell me they have no choice.
They’re too busy.
They’re too overwhelmed.
They’re not good enough. Not young enough. Not ready enough.
They may feel they have no choice. But that in itself is a choice.
What life would you choose, if you thought you had a choice?