My son turned 20 last week. It seems a significant milestone, similar to 21 in many ways I guess. Not that 21 actually means much these days really. I saw him for a brief time on the day however on Saturday we had a family celebration. As I often do on birthday occasions I asked him what he wanted for dinner, I said a roast would be good and he said beef please. We stopped at Elite Meats in Hamilton. It is a specialist South African butchery in Hamilton, https://www.facebook.com/elitemeats.hamilton?fref=ts. They have great beef there and I love the Biltong. Luck was in they had a special on Biltong, I looked at the roasts, none were big enough we were feeding 12 and my teenage boys know how to eat these days,so I asked them for a bigger piece. No trouble, soon they were back, 2.3 kgs of prime topside, not too much external fat, but a lovely marbling through the meat. Thirty eight dollars for the Biltong and the roast. I estimate the total cost of the birthday dinner was around $60.00, divide by, 12 $5.00 per head, not too expensive really.
I was reflecting on the fact that it was good to celebrate milestones and thought about how much I had spent and realised that there have been weeks when that was the sum total of the money I had to spend on groceries. I don’t regret spending the money for an instant. A good time was had by all. My next oldest son is exploring joining the military, at this stage he is a bit gung ho and we talk about the realities of military life including active service and the fact that even today so people lose their lives on active service. That if he joins the military he may never come home alive. A somewhat sobering thought, however death lurks everywhere. He is keen on farming, possibly more dangerous than being in the army on current rates.
The reality is that we do our best to protect our children yet there is no way we can completely protect them. At times I am rather glad that I don’t know some of the things my children get up to. I have faced death and injury over the years, from electrocution to violent offenders. For a while it seems to sharpen your existence, set a bit of urgency in your world and a determination to live a different life. I am not sure that the reality of that is so in my life. But this I know, should something happen to my children in the near future, will I regret spending $60.00 on a family celebration? Not likely.
Right now I feel as though I am on a treadmill journey of an indeterminable length, condemned to living vicariously through the lives of my children. Time I guess will tell on that matter. I do know that I have never felt as worn out emotionally and physically as I do right now. I don’t think I am particularly unfit (although I can do better) I managed a 28 k trail ride the other day with not too much effort. It is just that everything seems to bloody ache, my joints, my back, and above all else my brain. I am indeed in need of a holiday!
Some things will change in the next few weeks that may alleviate some of that. Full time sole- parenting is a busy job and I am 51 and I know I need to get back to the gym. So although I feel often trapped, and not seeming to have a life of my own (voice in the back ground daaaad) (louder voice, will you leave me alone I am on the toilet!). I could be worse much worse. I have five fantastic children, two who live with me, a fantastic nephew who also lives with me. Three independent children, and three cool grand-children. I am privileged to have some other cool kids in my life right now as well. They keep me young and real.
I had a job interview the other day and one of the questions I was asked was do I have a sense of humour? Fortunately I am able to laugh at myself (most of the time), not take myself too seriously (most of the time) and generally have hope. Hope is a little short in supply right now but laughter seems plentiful. Sometimes we have to be thankful for what we have, not that which we lack, I am thankful right now, for my children, for my true friends and family. Family is not determined by blood. It is those people who know and love you in the truth of your existence, good and not so good.
Live well, laugh often and love freely.