Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Jack & Jill Foundation
I GIVE OUT.  I give out a lot.  I could say, “Doesn’t everyone?” and throw in, “so do a lot of mother’s,” but I am not using my “position” as a parent to get out of this one.

I try to see the good in every situation, in every day and in people.  It’s not always easy. Sometimes it’s downright difficult if a tad impossible. 

But I try. 

At the back of it all, however, I am always aware of one thing; I’ve got four fine, healthy, hale and hearty boys.

Countless people, those older and wiser than me, have often commented whenever I complained about my boys wrecking the house or running riot somewhere they shouldn’t.

“Wouldn’t it be worse if they weren’t able to?” they say.

Yes, it would.  It would be unimaginable.  I cannot imagine it.

Yet there are parents out there who are not imagining it but living it.  Their kids are not so hale, not so hearty.

Their kids are sick.  Perhaps terminally so. 

My hale and hearty kids have never known an honest days illness in their lives.

For this I am eternally, absolutely grateful.

During the summer I entered a competition in conjunction with the RTE Guide and Poolbeg Publishing House inviting parents to submit a 500 word original story.  Twenty of which were to be selected and compiled in a children’s book entitled Once Upon a Bedtime with all proceeds from sales going towards The Jack & Jill Foundation.

I was delighted to learn that my story, Declan the Fire Breathing Dragon, was one of the winning entries.

I was always aware of The Jack & Jill Foundation but on a peripheral level only.   Thanks to my healthy kids.  Parents at the school gates mentioned how they would have been lost without the respite they received.  The care and support offered to and provided for those children with severe neurological and developmental issues.

That’s the medical bit.  But there’s more. CEO Jonathan Irwin highlighted how truly heart-breaking illness can be for families on a radio talk show recently.

“It’s a desperate world.  You cannot be in it.  You’re exhausted, you’re traumatised, you get no sleep.  An awful lot of partnerships and marriages that might have had a little crack in them break up.  It completely destroys the childhood of the siblings, and it doesn’t stop there; it ripples into the grandparents, the uncles, aunts, friends.  Everything.  It is a most negative influence all for this little person who means you no harm at all.”

And still I did not fully grasp the extent of their reach. The medical support provided is vital for the families of sick children.  But there is also the emotional side of it.   Most of us expect and take for granted the fact that we can escape every so often.  Even if it is only a quick catch up at the school gate.  What happens when you can’t even snatch those few minutes to yourself? 

The last few minutes of the interview brought it home for me.

“We [The Jack & Jill Foundation] bring the gift of time to get your hair done, to go to the supermarket, to take the children to a match or to a pantomime or on holiday because without it [time] I don’t know how people survive.”

Neither do I.

Once Upon a Bedtime is on sale now in bookshops nationwide RRP €14.99