I’m raising a white flag. I give up.
Let me explain!
My husband and I were married and expecting a child within the first five months of our relationship. We had known each other aged 5, but the reaquaintence and subsequent whirlwind romance certainly wasn’t long winded. On our first official date, my husband told me he was going to marry me, we were the kind of couple that had previously made me sick. We’d found our kindred spirits within each other, my heart had discovered its counterpart, the lifetime scars in our souls fit like a jigsaw puzzle. Trust me when I say there is no way I can describe the way we got together without making you sick..! Ahh the gloriously idyllic Summer of 2013!
Outside of our hideously romantic bubble, people were no doubt assuming that our surprise pregnancy was the catalyst to getting hitched, and the crueller of them were maybe even taking bets on how long we might last before our film-esque view of life bubble was burst. Even though I’m pretty much sure that no-one really cared, I felt like I needed to prove that even though it wasn’t a planned pregnancy, I would be a good Mother, a good Wife, a grown up enough grown up to be doing these roles.
It made me quite defensive, literally for three years. My pregnancy hormones made me feel like a violently protective Mama bear, of my babies and my marriage. I was constantly on guard on survival mode, on the look out for some slur or some passive aggressive slight on my ability to be a Mum. After all, I my mid twenties, I was told I would be unlikely to be able to conceive and safely carry children on my own so I already felt like a fraud.
We’ve been planning a wedding for the last few years and have recently booked it. I was asked why we were doing it again and my answer was simple; I spent most of our ‘legal’ wedding day throwing up (morning sickness was not kind to me in my first pregnancy!), I don’t remember much of it at all (epilepsy was also not kind to me during either pregnancy!) and at that point, although we were certain of spending forever together, we hadn’t yet built a life together. Three years later? I can spend a day without throwing up (what an achievement!), I can remember my day to day (mostly!) and we have a wonderful life together. Our family is complete with our two little girls, and we have built a business together, a home together, a life together. Most of which wasn’t around when we became man and wife.
Soon after Holly turned 1, I could almost feel the pregnancy hormones physically leaving. My babies are safe and well, we got through the pregnancies, we’ve stumbled our way through learning how to be parents (I mean…we’re winging it, but it turns out that’s the big secret!) and things are now established enough that I feel like I can relax my shoulders. I don’t need to be 100% on my guard.
And it’s a lovely feeling. Over the last few weeks, I’ve really chilled out, like I’ve been playing roles that I didn’t think anyone thought I belonged in, and I’ve only just realised that not only are they definitely my roles, but the only approval I need is my own.
I think we all feel that there are roles in life that we’re not good enough for, or qualified enough for, or that we deserve them. And for some reason, in this celebrity obsessed, reality TV led society, everyone’s personal choices are suddenly up for public discussion. Cheryl Cole recently had a baby and almost every weekly celebrity magazine had her on the cover with different angles as their ‘story’, talking about whether her relationship was strong enough, whether the age difference was appropriate, bring up clips of their first meeting to be commented on. And that kind of societal thinking spills no ‘real life’. In reality, their first child is nobodies business but Cheryl and Liam’s, their first meeting, their ages (as long as legal and consensual), and whether she has help, doesn’t have help, breastfeeds, or frankly, even if she bathes in unicorn tears and Horlicks for the health of her baby. IT’S NONE OF OUR BUSINESS! Likewise, when I was worrying that people would think we were rushing things, whether we should have/shouldn’t have get married when we did, whether we’re raising our kids right. I care about the opinion of my husbands and my own. I will happily listen to well meaning friends and family because I’m certainly not arrogant enough to think I have all the answers. But if they disagree with what I’m doing, but it’s what I believe in, I’m going to follow my own path with my head held high. And if I fall flat on my face, so be it, at least I stayed true to what I thought was best. And if anyone laughs at my fall, they are presumably a) perfect themselves and b) a bit of a dick. And that’s more their problem than mine!
So as I’ve let go of the pregnancy hormones, I’ve also let go of the tension I was carrying around like a hunchback. I’m REALLY excited to continue organising our wedding day, a day we’re hosting to celebrate our life together with a humanist blessing to more accurately represent our life views. (In the same way that we’re not religious, we also don’t really value the old legality of a non religious wedding so the government necessities weren’t really very us).
And some people will think it’s overly theatrical, some people will wonder why we’re bothering as we’re already technically married. And that’s fine, my advice would be for them to have a less dramatic day if they choose to get married, and to only do it once if that’s what works for them. I can’t stop them thinking we’re doing things wrong, so I’m finally letting go of the defensiveness I felt!
I AM a Mother, I AM a Wife, I’m not necessarily any good at either role..! But I’m doing them to the best of my ability, and that’s all I can ask of myself and of anyone else. The political scene has also brought about a slightly more hostile community feel. All of a sudden, with such big changes happening and the country so divided, neighbours are suddenly turning on each other based on the colour of the poster in their windows. Family meals are exploding into dispute because of passionate thoughts from all sides. Politically, it’s been much longer than just a Winter of discontent, and never before has it been more openly discussed, which is a double edged sword, especially when the recent local elections were so poorly attended. ANYWAY, my point is, I surrender. So with my white flags, I also hold aloft my personal flags, this is who I am, what I believe, but that doesn’t put me at odds with anyone who feels differently. I personally feel like a lot of us could do with an unclenching, to respect each others life choices and views. Gone are the days where there were two streets to choose between when setting up home, the days where you went into a profession based on what you were born into, and the days gone by when your parents and circumstances dictated your life. We now have literally millions of options for all things. And so it’s understandable that we all also now have millions of variables when it comes to the opinions we hold and the beliefs we live by and nurture. But it’s ok to be different, it’s how all those different roles get filled! And what other people think about your choices are none of your business and therefore nothing to spend time worrying about.
I have always been the kind of person to walk my own path, since being young. Even at primary school I insisted on being allowed to play football and was then the first girl to do so, but somewhere in my twenties I lost the confidence in doing so, I started trying to fit in. and so when I started back on my own path, I forgot to do so with my head held high, I somehow did so but felt like I needed to justify my every move.
It’s not lent, but I’m giving up on it. I’m tuning in instead to the feisty little girl who was told that football was for boys and decided that she was bloody well going to be allowed to play! SHE didn’t care if anyone thought it wasn’t becoming of a girl to run round on a football field, SHE didn’t get if anyone was talking about her being different or wrong, SHE just looked at what she wanted to do, what her heart told her to do and she went from it. My apologies to that little girl, she would’ve have been very disappointed in me over the last few years, and I now have two little mini me’s watching how I behave and how I judge myself and others, and that’s motivation enough for me!