Life Is A Circus

Generally I try to get by without thinking too much about my MS. Although it’s not easy to ignore something that is forever present I try my best for fear of otherwise drowning in the misery of it. You see, in my head I don’t actually have MS. The trouble with this of course is that I DO have MS and my body is not inclined to let me forget it. Being a parent is usually one of the biggest obstacles that my MS faces. I can often work around my limitations with the use of a wheelchair / stick / seat / bed / someone else taking over etc This Easter holiday, however, saw me faced with one of the biggest challenges I have so far had to face as a parent with MS… Circus Tots – A harmless enough activity designed to keep the rugrats entertained for a full 90 minutes by teaching them basic circus skills, thus enabling their parents to kick back in the sidelines and relax. But, wait a minute.. what?! NO! Just moments after our arrival into the ‘arena’ all the children were asked to make a circle with their unwitting parents in tow. A feeling of dread washed over me as I fumbled to remove my shoes. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fun mum; I love this kind of thing – if only my MS felt the same.

And so, shoes successfully removed we were all told to stand (I sat) in a circle and introduce ourselves while doing a ‘fun’ action (I flexed my muscles, obvs). So far so good. Next up kids form a line and run through hoops, roll across a crash mat and balance a plate on their head. Great, I can just kneel here with the other parents towering over me as we watch our cute little sprogs run and jump and skip around the room. Now adults stand in a line, legs apart to form a tunnel for the kids to crawl under. OK, I can do this, just don’t knock into me and I’ll be fine, but hurry up my legs are killing me! Brief sit down again while the kids were told to weave their way between some cones forming a snake. My 3 year old, last in line, took these instructions quite literally and proceeded to slither along the floor on her belly like an actual snake and falling way behind in the process. Right grown-ups, on your feet again – this is so exhausting! The kids were having a ball and I so badly didn’t want to let them down but my battery was beginning to flash low and with a quick glance at the time I knew I wasn’t going to last out. I just about managed the ‘Happy Cat – Angry Cat’ game* until I met defeat with the splits – I sat there unable to move as my MS-ravaged brain refused point-blank to play along. Next to me an elderly couple impressed their granddaughters with their acrobatic moves while I slowly and pathetically dragged my feet across the floor and away from all the action. Just in time – next on the agenda was The Human Pyramid.

I had a word with one of the ladies running the session hoping that she could take my place to allow my kids to join in but she looked bemused at the mention of ‘MS’ and continued to focus much of her attention on the rest of the group. My children were left looking dejected while all the other kids clambered on top of their grown-ups. This is the worst my MS has made me feel as a parent, I felt like I was letting my children down and somehow I can’t help thinking that this may well be the first of many similar experiences as they grow and get involved in more and more activities.

It turns out that there are times in life that you simply can’t ignore MS.

*Kneel on all fours – curve your back inwards to become Happy Cat and arch it out to become Angry Cat.

First published 5 April 2018

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