When the only plan you have left is to have no plan at all

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I have always been a planner. Up until a few years ago my life was displayed as a series of dot points listed on one of those shopping list magnets that you find on the fridge. It read something  like this:  get a part time job tick, finish year 12 tick, get into the course I wanted at uni tick, find a teaching job tick, gain a permanent position tick, have kids by the time I was 30 tick etc, etc, etc.

I would say up until recently that things have pretty much worked out in the way I had planned on my little fridge magnet. I strongly believed that with hard work and persistence you could actually control the people and things around you and could purposefully steer your life towards the final destination you had picked out for yourself. But at aged 32, life jumped out with a stop sign or maybe just a slow- down sign, a sit back and take it easy sign. Life decided that it was time to throw the plan on its head. This week I’ve realised that the only plan you can ever truly have, is no plan at all.

Most of you know that at the beginning of the year my husband and I had decided to try for baby number 3. I had it all planned. Start trying in March pregnant by April (as was the case with baby 1 & 2) that way I could finish off my current school year and still qualify for some maternity leave. The timing would be perfect. Six months down the track, and clearly my senior citizen ovaries are still on a day trip to the bingo. Still no sign of our perfectly timed baby. Excuse me plan-where are you? How dare the plan have not worked! What happens to my list now? Will I have to rewrite it? My husband tells me to relax, that it takes most people a long time to fall pregnant and deep down I know he is right. He is the opposite of me – the ‘non-planner’. After a life time playing football professional football, he learnt at a young age to just take things as they come. He constantly reminds me not to plan too far ahead because you never know what’s around the corner, and of course he is right. I have no right being disappointed. I have two beautiful, healthy sons. I know nothing of the sadness in the hearts of couples who have been trying to fall pregnant for years and have nothing or no one to show for it. I had just not planned on it taking this long. So now my plan is to have no plan at all.

In my high school years I remember thinking how great it was that besides Narelle Maylin’s family, my family was one of the only one’s still intact. We were almost the weird ones. We were close, supportive and all living in the same house. Our house was the one people came to on a Friday night, we liked each other so much we didn’t see the need to leave. This may sound no biggie, but at Parafield Gardens High School it was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I hadn’t planned for a time when this wasn’t the case. In fact I could never have imagined back then that we would all be living in different places. If there was one thing I believed back then, it was that family was first. That there was never anything or anyone that could dissolve us. I planned for the day when my own kids were surrounded by my family, Christmas’s, birthdays, good times and bad times.  I hadn’t planned to be here alone.  Now my plan is to have no plan at all.

We had planned to be in a bigger house by now. Our three bedroom townhouse with no yard seems to be closing in on us by the second, as two young boys burn past my feet on their scooters while I’m cooking the dinner. Our tiny dwelling seems to be giving birth to toys. I swear every day that I wake up the toys have multiplied- soon they will swallow us up. Last night I had to remove a matchbox truck, a minion and ninja turtle mask from my bottom before I could get to sleep. We keep waiting and looking. I hadn’t planned on still being here, so now the plan is to have no plan at all.

I had also not planned for a world without my mum in it. A few weeks ago I received a phone call telling me my 54 year old mum had had a heart attack. It felt like a joke.  Are you f&%$# serious was my exact response. Many scenes in our lives come as no surprise, we have usually played out pertinent events in our heads, even rehearsed our responses, but this one I wasn’t prepared for. I hadn’t prepared for the possibility of having already had the last hug from my mum without knowing it, and without having had the opportunity to hold on a few minutes longer. The opportunity to tell her the things a mum should know every day, not just on her last day. I haven’t prepared for a time when I can’t ring her and ask her what to put down in my tax return. I haven’t planned for the time when I go home to Adelaide and she is not there anymore. I haven’t planned for the time when I can’t call her crying and know she will be by my side as soon as she can. Luckily, and despite the poorness of her current mental and physical health, she is still here, alive and kicking with her achy, tingly, smelly diabetic feet. I now have the opportunity to make my last hug count. The day after her heart attack, after a long day at the hospital I returned home to her house for a sleep. We opened the door and looked around at the lounge room left as it was the moment she was put in an ambulance. Her clothes over the back of the chair, her makeup all over the bathroom and her little black shoes beneath her place on the couch. This could’ve been all that was left, and thank God that the image of her little black shoes won’t be the last thing I see of her. I hadn’t planned on ever losing mum, so now the plan is to have no plan at all. Every hug will be the last one.

It is funny how life changes. How what you had planned on never seems to go according to schedule. I am sure my husband is right. It is time to relax, take it easy and take it as it comes. And just hope I am ready for the next detour.