The word halcyon means “a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful.” Well looking back on my life as it was only five short years ago, it certainly seems like those were my halcyon days. I was taking off overseas pretty much once a year, had very few bills to pay and some of the hardest decisions I had to make involved which pub to go to every Friday and Saturday night.
Interestingly, as I drove across America with two of my closest mates back in 2013, the song that got played on Spotify the most was called ‘Halcyon’ by a young Aussie band. I had no idea what that word meant at the time and I absolutely had no idea how much my life would change over the coming five years. It feels as though those were the best days of my life, but the truth is that I’ve never been happier than I am today.
There is no doubt that life now with almost 2 year old Cecilia and 4 month year old Raph is more challenging than it was back in those days. As every parent knows, the thing that disappears fastest upon the arrival of kids is “me time”. Before I had kids I always thought parents were hamming it up when they would say that they weren’t even allowed to go to the bathroom in peace. Cecilia’s crying while banging on the bathroom door has taught me otherwise! Raph’s complex medical needs keep us constantly on our toes, and there’s always a machine to set up, a tube to change or a sad little boy to cheer up. On top of that I’m now working at a commercial law firm in Sydney, a job which can be very demanding at times. Life is now busy, busy, busy and it’s a rare moment that I get to sit and do not much. On the surface my life is much more stressful than ever before, but in other ways I’m far more relaxed and at peace than I was before life got crazy.
They say that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, and I think that certainly rings true here, but perhaps not in the way it usually does. Five years ago, when I had nothing but time on my hands, I never stopped and thought to myself “how good is this!” Each stage of life brings its own challenges, and while in hindsight they might seem insignificant compared to our struggles with Raph, life back in “the halcyon days” presented just as many challenges as life does today, and it is only the benefit of hindsight that puts those struggles in perspective.
It is easy to look back on the past and romanticise it such that your memory paints a far rosier picture than what was the reality of that time. Was I sublimely happy by virtue of a lack of responsibilities and an abundance of free time? Absolutely not.
Living only for oneself can be great fun at times, but there was never a stage where I sat back and thought “this is all I need.” Contrastingly, despite the many stressful moments experienced of late, there are plenty of times now where I can stop and look at my little family and think exactly that.
Each Friday afternoon as I walk to the bus stop from work, I inevitably feel a twinge of envy as I pass the throngs of people spilling out of pubs and bars, enjoying an end of week beer with their mates and co-workers. On paper, the carefree approach definitely looks more enticing than heading home, but the reality of my life today is that I get to come home to a beautiful wife with whom I’ll no doubt share a wine around the pool later on that evening, a smiling little girl screaming “Dada!!” when she sees me through the window, and the cutest little baby in the world who I know will love Amelia and I more than any other child ever could.
I love those rare nights when I get to catch up with my mates for a beer after work, but when this life comes to an end, it will undoubtedly be this new phase of my life that I will remember as my halcyon days.
To read our introduction and background story of our son and life with Down Syndrome, click here
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