amber rahim

Chronic illness: the parts we don't talk about

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Happy Mandalas and broken hands

I love colouring. I always joined in when F was little and probably did more colouring than she did. I definitely do more than S.

Recenty my sister in law bought me a Mandala colouring book and I’m hooked. I have thin pens and thick pens and have reserved a couple of pages for the girls to colour (because of course if I am colouring, they want to).

i love using the thin pens the most. It takes more concentration and the colours just seem to be more sharp, jewel like.

its very soothing and this daily practice has been like a kind of meditation for me: it builds my reserves of resilience.

But today as I colour I feel restless. Some words need to be spoken. Yet I feel that my life while be forever changed and I’m not sure I am ready for that. But I don’t the know how much longer I can hold them in.

But these words I can say: we took S to the hospital today. She fell and hurt her hand. No amounts of bruises and scrapes stop her, and she reminds me of my sister Y, fearless and ever on an adventure. But today she cried so. She fell asleep in my arms and on waking, cried some more.

It was a quick visit and it looks like she bruised it. No broken bones they said. Let’s hope that’s true.

I caught myself comparing this visit to all our other visits with F. Those visits are always so complex but today I don’t want to compare. I am going to try and enjoy that whole process took under an hour, including the 20 min drive each way.

It was a breeze. So thank you God for the ease and speed today.

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End of the world?

Enders Game has been made into a film (Ender’s Game (2013) – IMDband I am not sure that I should go and see it.

I have read the book more than 30 times.  There is something about the tragic irony that keeps me coming back to visit.

I love the book, I know it well and I have a vision of what the characters look like, how they talk, who they are.

So, like all other lovers of books, I ask myself do I want to see someone else’s interpretation of it?

My expectations will never be met. I can’t even articulate all the things I would want there to be in the film to make it “right”.

Yet I am curious to see what they did with it. What did they leave out? Did they change the end? Will they get into the deep issues? Or will I be disappointed when it turns out to be a hyped up “he’s the ONE” film like The Matrix?

Whatever happens when I watch the film, there are two themes of the book that are particularly close to heart at this point in my life:

  1. Expectations for the future
  2. Controlling behaviour – how to influence and get the behaviour you want from people.  Sometimes, especially at bedtime, I wish I could control people, especially my kids.


Growing up I had a vision of what my life would be like. Based on the wonderful example of my parents, I knew that my kids would be great: cheeky but obedient; responding to my brilliant parenting style; disciplined yet fun and loving.

The reality is nothing like this. Yes the elements are all there: I am loving, we have fun and use humour in a positive way and yes, there is discipline. Yet the shape and form of my life, how I am as a parent and what my children do… well, it’s not like the vision I had. The pictures don’t match.

For a start, when it comes to parenting, my husband and I don’t agree on everything (ok, this excellent opportunity for make up “activities” is not restricted to parenting. We disagree about a lot of things, but that’s for another day).

This is another way that the pictures don’t match:

Controlling behaviour

My children have a different interpretation of my parenting which I call “wilful misunderstanding”. They do not respond in the way I expect or hope for; they will not be controlled. They even dare to make their own choices and develop their own personalities. They do not listen to my wisdom and obey!

For example at bed time, my side of the conversation often goes like this:

“ok, another 5 minutes and then it’s time for bed” (yes super nanny, I listened to you and give them that time to adjust)

“come on then, brush your teeth and put your pyjamas on.” (imagine my firm and authoritative voice. Thank you mum, you showed me how that is done. That should work).

“Yes now!

good, you’ve brushed your teeth.

now get changed

Come on, get on with it!

…and without all that prancing about half naked!”

Quite some time later…… kids are in bed, books read, cuddles given.

“Ok, stop talking now.  It’s time to sleep”.


Mum, where did I go wrong? Wasn’t I always a wonderful child that did as I was told? (ok, don’t answer that).

My expectation of parenting did not come true but it is sweeter than I ever imagined it to be. I did not know that the same face that could make my blood boil in an instant could also melt my heart two seconds later.

I still dream that my parenting will be brilliant; that my kids will grow up to be happy and able to look after themselves and others. I dream that I am helping save the future of mankind.

So ok, maybe this film will not melt my heart and I expect some changes to the story will boil my blood, but it is just a film. It is only someone else’s interpretation of a book and it will not meet my expectations. But maybe I will like it anyway. If I don’t?  It’s ok, it’s not the end of the world.