We've recently returned from a wonderful family Easter break in Cornwall.
The beautiful surroundings, the child and pet-friendly accommodation and several meaningful encounters will be stored in my memory for a long time to come.
A trip to a renowned Padstow restaurant for posh fish and chips took a little sidestep due to an extraordinary exchange between myself and a fellow mum and her family.
My husband initiated a conversation with a family that we shared a table with. It's more often the other way around - who'd of thought? - but I am grateful that he did.
We opened our chat with familiar, comfortable parenting conversation and then we moved to her son.
Her beautiful boy is experiencing complications with his immune system and as I learnt from our exchange, she fights daily to find the correct diagnosis for him.
I was aware that it is a very heavy load to bear as a parent.
I locked eyes with the little boy's father, who was such a deeply kind and genuine man and he explained that it has taken a long time to come to terms with the difficulties they have had to face.
In theory, when sharing a table at a sought-after restaurant, our social manual encourages us to talk around the tricky stuff, snapping away on our mobile phones and naturally sharing our proud moments on social media, but I couldn't quieten the voice that wants to acknowledge their plight.
"It must be very hard for you all."
The mother's beautifully open-hearted eyes glistened and filled with tears.
I could see that she was relieved that someone acknowledged this pain and we moved towards one another and hugged (for a very long time.)
Hugging her had no element of awkwardness - quite the reverse.
It's deeply uplifting to share such a personal struggle with a perfect stranger.
In fact, it gave me real hope.
We have this great ability as humans to connect deeply and so often we get swayed by the voice inside - adhering to the social ethics of keeping our physical distance just in case we overstep our boundaries or create an awkward discomfort by the very thing we are all privately seeking.
It is fair to say, that our meeting had touched me deeply. For days, I thought about her.
And as we journeyed onto the final phase of our holiday, my husband and I reminisced about our favourite Cornish stop-offs.
"Padstow" I said with fierce certainty.
He knew that it is precisely because of this wonderful encounter, this new person that I have now taken into my heart.
A new friend, a fellow mother with a strong spirit, who will continue to fight for answers, and will keep on fighting until she gets them.
We never give up fighting for our children.
Whatever their needs are, we inherently find the steely determination to carve out the best future for them. It's what we all feel earns us the title of 'parent'.
It's what makes us incredible and full of inexhaustible resources.
And I'm reminded of this, at this critical time of year when results for secondary and primary schools are revealed. An all-too-familiar memory for our family.
We were one of those statistics that didn't get their local school. At the time, I was flooded with thoughts of "why us?"
And then, consoled by my fellow pre-school parents, it could have laid a painful path towards total victimhood.
I vividly remember the days I would enter the nursery, piercing my nails into my skin to halt the tears of upset and failure (as I perceived it at the time.)
But I soon understood that it was fight or fall.
And fall it would not be.
My mission to find my daughter the best school became a military operation. Armed with my co-pilot (my mother) systematically visiting schools, greeting heads of schools, which reached into double figures, my only goal was to find the best school for my daughter.
The following quote often spurred me on at the time.
"The determination to win is the better part of winning." Daisaku Ikeda
What I know is that luck, grit, and sheer determination play a big part in securing a place at school, but in my mind, the fight to get there, or not, is the most valuable and beneficial aspect of all.
Our daughter finally secured a fantastic school that on every level, I can't begin to describe. My daily routine is that I drive, I wait at a railway crossing some days, the children fight in the back, there's a struggle to strap my youngest into her car seat and it is not our local walkable school.
But I wouldn't change a single part of the journey.
In fact, if I can pass on to my children that to fight is to win, then I really have won as a parent.Suggest a correction