Fire has long served as a symbol of creation, destruction and rebirth.
T’s latest song obsession is “Iconic,” from Madonna’s 2015 album “Rebel Heart.”
Every August 16, M’s birthday, we listen to her songs. This triphop autotune-laced song appeals to T, because he thinks a robot is singing.
If you try and fail, get up again.
Destiny will choose you in the end.
If you don’t make the choice,
And you don’t use your voice,
Someone else will speak for you instead.
What you want is just within your reach.
But you gotta practice what you preach.
You pay with sweat and tears,
And overcome your fears,
Never let the fire inside you leave.”– “Iconic“
This song resonates with me, because I’ve long admired and been inspired by M’s work ethic.
Forty years into her career and past her commercial peak, she still pushes herself, against misogynistic comments about her age, experimenting with new sounds and touring techniques, instead of resting on her laurels.
What lights your flame and keeps it burning?
I think back to my 20s. I felt that my inner fire was like a set of fireworks. Huge shortlived bursts of energy, reaching for the skies, then flaming out until the next explosion.
At 21, I took a 10-hour overnight bus to New York City, from Canada, and walked into the office of a literary agency, without an appointment, and asked to speak to an agent so I could drop off my manuscript with them.
Nothing happened with it, because it was frankly not very good. I sometimes think and cringe to myself, who was that bold little kid?!
I turned 40 this year. I feel like my inner flame is now more like a tall thick candle – more reserved, silent, but nonetheless lighting a way forward for those around me.
The best thing about getting older – note that I did not say about being old! – is you know yourself better.
I know who I am and who I’m not. I’m happy and thankful for who I’ve become and the list of things that motivate me to keep trying to do better everyday is more focused and narrow.
As a parent, my inner flame also burns so that I can help ignite the spark within my child’s spirit.
The reality of special needs parenting is that it is mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually draining.
This is not a complaint, because being T’s Papa is the most rewarding role in my life. This is just me telling it like it is; it is very damn challenging.
While I have many things in my life that take up my time and energy, T is at the nucleus.
My flame flickers, so that I can help him find his way in his life and shine in his beautiful own way. I hope that my flame can light the spark and give him the skills and resiliency to burn brightly despite the obstacles he may face.
“I can’t. Icon. Two letter apart.
One step away from being lost in the dark.
Just shine your light like a beautiful star.
Show the world who you are.”– “Iconic”
In the early days of parenting, the hubby and I often had conversations – and I’ve always reflected to myself – that although T is now the centre of our lives, I do not want to lose myself in the process of being a parent.
I still have my own goals and dreams, even though most of them are now deeply integrated with my hopes and dreams for T.
While I reprioritized my own goals around T, I was always mindful to not lose sight of myself.
To be able to light a way forward for T, I have to keep my own flame burning.
This is why the pandemic was so brutally hard.
Like other special needs families around the world, we were on survival mode. There was no time or energy for anything else.
Not a flame, but just a dimly flickering light bulb in a persistent brownout state.
“Tell me I’m no good and I’ll be great.
Say I have to fight and I can’t wait.”– “Iconic”
But fire is about rebirth.
This summer has been a blessing for our family.
With daycares reopened to offer daily reprieve from T to our summer roadtrip, I do feel rejuvenated and reenergized.
I previously wrote about the importance of nurturing mental well-being. Another important aspect of my self care, one of my most important personal goals, is physical well-being.
One big blessing is the reopening of gyms.
With careful attention to safety precautions, I go two evenings and Sundays every week.
Thirty minutes of cardio on the elliptical followed by weights – plus three additional evenings of swim time with T – I am finally getting the physical activity I’ve missed so much.
I’ve also focused more attention into my diet, something that went out the window during the early days of the pandemic.
Smaller portions, cut out pop and juice, and stopped eating snacks in the evenings.
I started herbal alternatives to my daily second cup of coffee, alternating between bittermelon green tea and turmeric ginger “golden milk,” the latter (pictured below) of which is soothing and gives me a great night of sleep!
This past Thursday was our final evening visit to the outdoor pool for this summer, because it closes this Labour Day weekend.
It was a cool evening, you could feel autumn in the air, so T wanted to leave after just 15 minutes in the pool.
During the drive home, I remarked how quickly the summer flew by.
During a red traffic light stop, I glanced at our little boy, from the rear view mirror. He was still little, but not so little at the same time.
He is always in his element in the water, full of fiery confidence and joy.
I so wish for that flame to help him sparkle and shine in all other areas of his life.
I know and fully expect that the upcoming school year, entering grade one, is going to be a huge test for T and for us as his parents.
I’m filled with both hope and anxiety.
But all we can do is take it one day at a time.
The song “Iconic” was playing on repeat in the car and it arrived at the bridge (middle part) of the song and T sang along loudly with it.
“Born to be a superstar,
that’s exactly what you are.”
I thought to myself at that moment about how much I wish for him to internalize that message and to let it be a fuel that keeps his flame burning brightly.