My late Grandmother once told me that parenting is the easiest and the hardest job in the world.  At the time (pre-children), I thought she meant that it depended on whether your children were good or naughty, but in my experience with my own four children I’ve realised that she meant something else entirely. 

Parenthood is the ultimate dichotomous relationship.  The highs are so very high and the lows just as extreme.  Raising a child like Charlie has really brought this idea to the forefront of my mind.

Charlie is a font of pure, all-encompassing joy for us – and also the source of our grief and despair.

Anxiety is my constant companion where Charlie is concerned, and yet five quiet minutes in her exclusive company can bring peace to even the most agitated mind.

Frustration and acceptance are always at war in me.

I’m thankful for Charlie just the way she is, and bitter about all the missed milestones and the widening gap between her and her peers.

I’m desperate to know what the future holds, but equally glad that we haven’t received any truly awful prognoses.

I love feeling that she needs me (perhaps it replaces the “I love you”s that she can’t say), but I sometimes resent the weight of the responsibility.

I am terrified for her future and for ours every day, but in other ways I am the most fearless I have ever been.  She has given me the courage to recognise that most of the old worries are easily surmountable, or they don’t matter at all.

She forces me to be unselfish even when I don’t want to, but at the same time I’ve been a terribly lacklustre friend, wife, sister, mother, and daughter. I guard my limited ‘me time’ jealously.

She is the centre of our family and I can’t imagine what we’d look like without her, but I do sometimes long for simpler times when family participation was easier and every activity was accessible.

All of my children have given me similar feelings, but none so consistently as Charlie.

The easiest job in the world, and yet the hardest.  You were right, Nanna.

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