On Saturday afternoon I got dollied up and headed to The Langham to meet up with 29 other Instagrammers in a combined effort to support Starship for their annual Diamonds & Stars Tea Party. I was excited to have an afternoon out playing ladies, and excited to get pretty and to meet a bunch of other Mama’s who I ‘know’ online but have never met face to face. I was also excited to catch up with those that I know face to face again and chat more in depth.
The tickets were not cheap, but I justified it as a business expense and besides, it was all going to a good cause.
I was feeling pretty crappy thanks to a head cold which decided to intensify on Saturday morning and had I not paid such an extravagant ticket price, I would have surely crawled into bed and sought some slumber. Instead, on the way home from an 8.30am soccer game, I stopped in at the local pharmacy, purchased some Dimetapp Cold & Flu tablets and knocked two back quicker than you can say “boo”.
Every guest was dressed to the nines. There was a lot of botox and lip filler in the room, of that you can be sure. And watching the Live and Silent Auctions taking place all around us as the afternoon wore on, it was obvious there was also a lot of money in the room. At first glance it seemed like a rather superficial gathering. I’m not being judgmental, I was there too and I was willing to pay the money to be there to hob nob with other fancy ladies. What I hadn’t known was that when I left, I would be thinking a little differently about the world around me, about my moans and groans and my reality.
We were addressed by an incredible couple whose now-3 year old boy has undergone not one, not two or three, but FOUR rounds of open-heart surgery over the course of his short life. We listened to his mother’s emotional retelling of the past three years of their families life, the heartbreak, the struggles, the financial strain, the pain of being separated from her older child as she gave her all to her younger one who needed her, her appreciation for her mother who dropped everything to be there supporting them, the love and boosting from their community in the Hawke’s Bay, the fear of losing their home due to extended periods away and loss of income, the rollercoaster of emotions that came with each procedure, check up, appointment, doctor phone call concerning their precious little man. The reality of living in Starship. Being in PICU, seeing the pain and grief that consumes these hospital wards.
There was not a dry eye in that room. Every single person I glanced at as I rustled a tissue out of my clutch was wiping tears from their eyes. It hit us hard. I sat watching this incredible couple share their story. Her husband stood solidly by her side, rubbing her back when she struggled to keep her composure, a steady hand, asking if she needed him to carry on telling the story. I thought of the nights they have faced. Of the times when they must have just cried in each others arms, scared for their future, for the outcome of each surgery. The moments of silence they have shared, the challenges that must come with all of that emotion. The darkness of the wee small hours when their little man lay hooked up to every cable and tube imaginable. I thought of the strength of their love and their resolve to keep their family together during such challenging and harrowing times. I realised my own marriage has never been put in a pressure cooker like that. When we face a small ruffle in our lives, it’s usually something inconsequential like a semi-sleepless night when one of our kids had a bad cough or a tummy bug. I spent four nights in hospital with my middle child when he was 20 months old and it was hard, but it wasn’t a matter of life or death. When I feel like complaining about my disobedient child or the days when I am tired because I chose to stay up too late watching Netflix so that now I feel like it’s hard to operate with calm and order, I need to remind myself that I have no real clue how tough life can be. My children are healthy, my husband is healthy, I am healthy. And at the end of it all, having ones’ health truly is everything.
Listening to Rachael Bartle made me think about how much our world is filled with negativity, how much we love to complain about ridiculous things. How we magnify the insignificant and blow things out of proportion. How it seems that the harder we find life, or the more we complain about it, the more sympathy we receive, the more people can apparently relate to us. It seems so backwards. We seem to be living in a time when we are free and able to be ‘honest’ about our struggles – about the brutality of motherhood for example. And while I understand that on one level that is liberating because it means we can share our own struggles and it normalises it, really, is that what we should be doing? Should we be making issues and problems where they really aren’t? I bet that family standing up on that podium sharing their story of real heartache and pain would tell us to pull our heads in. How much we have to be thankful for. It’s not to say that our struggles aren’t real, it’s more a matter of how much do we want to focus on them?
After hearing the long and difficult road this family have travelled, that wee miracle child was bought into the room. We stood and applauded his little life, we clapped for the surgeon who has performed life-saving surgery on his tiny body time and again, and when he leaned into the microphone and said “Hi!” with the joy and enthusiasm of any regular 3 year old, the water-works hit again. How blessed am I that I have never had to go through that pain and heartache. How blessed are any of us that have our children healthy and well in our own homes each night to tuck in?
I couldn’t afford to bid on other items in the auction that day, but attending the event made me more resolute than ever that my $25 a month that I give to the Starship Foundation is money going to a very, very good cause.
Had I not been full of a head cold, I had planned to progress with other Mama’s who were hitting the town, and I would have been kicking up my heels and drinking a few cheeky glasses of champagne. Instead, I was home by 6.30pm, changed straight into my PJ’s and snuggled with my babies on the couch. I couldn’t have been happier right there. I kept thinking over and over “This is what it’s all about, there truly is no place I’d rather be right now” – which is funny given that earlier in the day I couldn’t wait to get out of there, to have some girly time and be just me, without any hangers-on! It sometimes helps to have life put into perspective. I know Saturday did that for me.
Have a great week friends and may your focus be on the good in your life.
* this post is in no way sponsored. I have simply shared my thoughts after attending this event.
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