The Soothing of One’s Kids Being in a “Good Place”By Emma Pearson
February 27, 2024
12 February 2024
Over the past few days, I have had opportunities to catch up with my alive kids, Ben and Megan. At risk of tempting fate by writing what I am about to write, because it feels so special, I find I don’t want to pass up on the feelings of relief, peace and gratitude – not to mention pride – that go with it. And so I write about it.
In short, they are both in a good place. (I still shudder when I write the word “both” in relation to my kids. “Both” is for two kids. “All” is for three kids plus. It was always “all” when Julia was alive. And of course, I could simply drop the pronoun (is it a pronoun?) and write “They are in a good place” – which works for any number of kids).
Ben is post-Masters, getting work experience working with sex offenders, and learning a lot from generous and qualified mentors. Megan is working on her final undergrad year project at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. I’ve seen and heard snippets of her work which is rich, creative and interesting. She’s also reaching out to young artists, asking for mentorship. Perhaps a red thread here (at least for me) is their looking for and finding suitable mentors. People who are a few steps ahead in their lives and work, who are courageous, bold and inspiring, as well as supportive and generous. May they have wise mentors throughout their lives. Mentors have been so important to me.
And of course I can never reflect much on Ben and Megan without bringing Julia into the picture. It occurs to me that, much as I wish she had not made the decision she did, she too is in a good place. I tell myself that story so often, I have come to believe it. It doesn’t take away the grief and pain. It sits alongside it. But it offers an invitation for greater spaciousness, deeper breathing, around the edges of her absence.
So I am indeed soothed as I feel into the sense of all of my kids being in a good place.
It’s precious. It’s a gift. I know it’s not a given.
My dad, for as long as I remember, at least back to my adolescent years and into my 20s, always had a sense that we were “too lucky” as a family. I remember him acknowledging how unusual it was to have five healthy kids, seemingly happy, good enough at school, getting through formal education, later on, employed, being in relationships that were apparently good, able to have kids. So much good fortune! I remember discussing with him how lucky we were. And whereas I felt, “Yes – we are lucky, aren’t we?” (now I realise this is classic Enneagram Type 7), my dad had this sense of foreboding, of doom, and that it would all come crashing down. That, inevitably, something would go wrong.
And yes, a lot did crash down. A lot has “gone wrong”. One of their five children died. Another child is widowed and then on top of that, also lost a child. Another child has divorced. And the others’ lives are not always smooth sailing.
Did this crashing “have to happen” because we all had so many years of good fortune? No. Of course not.
Are we somehow “paying” for all the ease we had for decades? No.
Could these years have been easier, and could my parents have gone to their graves without losing a child and a grandchild? Yes – the norm would suggest that most parents don’t lose a child and a grandchild, however long they live. At least in “developed” Western societies.
But many do. I don’t believe that it’s about good luck or bad luck. I don’t believe in pay-back and balancing out of good and bad luck within a lifetime – even if a growing part of me believes in Karma over multiple lifetimes. I am simply grateful that we all had it good as long as we did. That gratitude did a lot for building resilience for being with what came along. (And more may yet come – I know that).
And so I remain grateful. It’s not Pollyanna-ish optimism. It’s real, deep, heartfelt gratitude.
I am so grateful to have had good and loving parents who are still alive, so many siblings who taught me and taunted me in equal measure, a wonderful life partner, and three stunningly capable children. True – I don’t have all of them breathing with me today, and even if I sometimes freeze in sheer horror of the prospect of losing another child – or Medjool – I can still (usually) find my way into a place of spacious gratitude and rest in it for a while.
I am grateful that Ben and Megan are in a good place.
I am grateful that Julia too is in a good place.
I, too, am in a good place. And for that I am so grateful. I know that it’s not a given.