Protecting my Path…

Standard

 

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!

 

   

 

A Rejoiceful Return…

Standard

Dear Comrades, 

My apologies for being absent in weeks of late. A quick explanation summary before I continue. I caught a kidney infection which managed to spread to a lymph node and the large intestine. I was hospitalised for a little while to let antibiotics try and clear it and in the meantime I’m due to have further tests to try and sort out my kidney function as they are…well put it this way, they wouldn’t win any awards for efficiency! 

I haven’t been doing any writing and was written off work for quite some time while I recovered. My husband suddenly had the role of Mum, Dad, bread winner, bread baker, bread cleaner upper, had to take on my role in the business, look after me, whilst also trying to keep on top of everything else with 50% less the people usually involved. As a couple whose lives are very busy and chaotic, I am unendingly grateful for the incredible job he’s done keeping everything together.

IMG_8457_2

When ill, I am quite the disappear-er, I try and be a lot to many, and often want things to be completed or achieved ‘right now’. This pace of life is difficult to keep up with when healthy so when I break, I tend to retreat completely. It’s a flaw, I am not proud of it. I worry so much about letting people down when I’m not on full pace, I feel so guilty if I can’t be 100% involved. It’s a ridiculous standard to try and hold myself to and I have often in the past got to a point of burn out because of it. Becoming a parent only made it clear to me that I did so. I tried to continue to say yes to a number of nights out in London for friends birthdays even though being a Mum now meant that realistically, nights like that would be fewer and further between and 99% of people understand that when you have a little one your life adjusts; the 1% that didn’t understand that was population me! So I tried to remain in all the roles I held before also adding ‘Mother’ to the list and consequently I have learnt that 1) I am ridiculous and 2) Re-arranging life to fit does not make me a terrible friend/co-worker/wife/mother, it makes me sensible. As anyone who knows me will tell you though, being sensible is not my strong point! 

So I missed out on going zip wiring with friends a couple of weeks ago and reluctantly handed over my ticket to my brother, but I’d imagine zip wiring won’t be outlawed in the next year! I avoided going family events because I felt I wasn’t ‘presentable’ enough or that I’d be a disappointment, despite the fact that as they are too all living life, they know and understand that being a working Mother isn’t easy and I won’t necessarily always be in perfect makeup with a Stepford wife house!

For many years, as a teenager, I wanted to portray a perfect life that I was 100% on top of, I never admitted to my parents when I was having a hard time or would try and hide any mistakes I’d made because I always had some pathological fear of getting into trouble. The result of this is I ended up with bigger mistakes beyond my control and I look back on my teenage years and cringe. You’d have thought I would have learnt! The fact remains that I still have a pathological fear of letting people down and disappointing anyone, over the last few years I have tried to get better at it all, but my knee jerk reaction is always to say yes if someone asks something of me. I hate to think I can’t please them or help them. (Even if it then means that I end up letting them down worse by taking on too much and not being able to help properly, that’s when I would end up burning the candle at both ends trying to sort everything!)

What’s changed is that I am now not the most important person in my life. Scarlett came into my life and I realised that she needed to be my priority and I realised how important it would be for me to learn to say no. Not an easy lesson to learn. My core urge is still to be as involved and as helpful to everyone as possible, I still assume that if I’m not able to do certain things, people won’t want me involved. A lifetime of being an organiser I suppose, you start to wonder that if you weren’t organising things would people still want you in their life. And realistically for some people, no they wouldn’t. And that’s fine. As you get older you start to realise very quickly that it’s much more important to have quality friends rather than a high quantity of friends, especially as when you get older, you barely have time to catch up properly with everyone you’d dearly like to, let alone give time to people who probably aren’t that fussed about you in the first place. And in family and friends, we are blessed. We recently attended two of my closest friends wedding and I caught up with friends I hadn’t seen in ages; that old adage is quite right you don’t have to see people all the time to maintain meaningful friendships. We’re all busy and have lots going on in life and on those occasions you get to catch up, it’s magic! That’s not to say I still don’t convince myself when I’m not 100% that moon thinks I’m not a good enough Wife/daughter/Mother/friend etc etc etc! Such is life, none of us are really ever ready to adult! And just when we think we’ve got it down, something will happen to rock our self image or confidence. 

If you think similar to me I urge you not to follow celebrities! I have nothing against them and certainly don’t envy them their lifestyles but the media presents us with these perfect people with perfect bodies/careers and make followers look forward to when they can be criticised. How many magazines have you seen with one celebrities perfect beach body diet on the same cover as someone with a circle of shame round a ‘disgusting’ imperfection. Any woman who eats a burger can be expect to be asked if they’re pregnant, any man who hugs a woman will be instantly scrutinised and accused of sleeping with her. It is cut throat and it is horrible. Sadly with the advent of social media, our own lives are now under almost as much scrutiny, “ooh did you see that post Jane put up yesterday, something tells me there’s trouble in paradise.” And in a perverse way, as we’re all trying to find our way in the world and we all want to believe that we’ve made the best choices for us, instead of communities working better together; we look for reasons that we’ve at least made better decision than the person to our left. My husband and I ashamedly sat smugly in a cafe a couple of weeks ago while this little boy was screaming and acting up, we smiled at ourselves as if we were so above that. HAH! Scarlett’s still troubled with her teeth and she’s a BABY, therefore, if she’s in pain, she cries, she doesn’t care about our public appearance. And that is sometimes such a refreshing reminder!! There’s such a pressure to always be on top, to be ‘winning’ as if anyone ever really ‘wins’ at life! As a teenager, I used to compare myself to others and I would think, ‘oh god they’re so good at guitar/they’re so much slimmer than me/they can do their makeup so much better.’ Now I realise that ok they could play the guitar but I could learn if I really wanted/I may always have a little extra round my bum but that’s got nothing to do with health and my husband loves the junk in my trunk(!)/I still can’t do makeup like a celebrity, I’m more likely to be doing stage makeup and the natural look is much easier to maintain! 

My little girl has brown curly hair and big green eyes, and I GUARANTEE at some point she’ll come home and cry because she wants straight blonde hair, or she doesn’t like having an unusual colour eyes and I will sit her down, wipe her tears and tell her that whilst she’s jealous of those things, other people will be envying her. It does not matter what we all have, it’s human nature to seek out those things we don’t have, which is equal parts ridiculous and self damaging. 

Those of us doing slightly left field careers, or making any decisions that are slightly different to the ‘norm’ HAVE to develop a thicker skin because, as if trying to follow the crowd doesn’t invite enough criticism, choosing a different path is bound to attract criticism from, often well meaning people who don’t understand your choices. It makes you stick out, if you’re doing things differently, you almost have to justify why you’re breaking the mould. I have ALWAYS broken the mould, for someone who is a people pleaser, I’ve managed to do almost every big life event in a slightly off the wall different way. A-Levels? I did them through home learning, same with my degrees. Career? (I’m referring to the Forensic Psychology side of my career) I spent a decade learning and forging my way in sometimes experimental trials (not in a take an unknown pill type of way, in a taking risks and travelling with companies who sometimes didn’t make it!) to get where I am today. For years I even just didn’t talk about my qualifications, I somehow thought it was really braggy to ‘big myself up’ by talking about it, I played the idiot so people didn’t feel threatened. Don’t misunderstand me, I wasn’t doing work on assassinations or anything actually threatening, I literally just thought people would think I was full of myself if I ‘showed off’ my qualifications and that turned into not even talking about the interesting things I was working on. My husband and I upset people with our original wedding plans so we changed them. And any parent will know that here’s no such thing as an un-judged parenting decision, there will always be SOMEONE who disagrees with you! And we have certainly made some decisions that people have questioned, we stayed travelling out and about in Scarlett’s first year and she spent a lot of nap times in theatres whilst techs were going on around her (as she lay there asleep completely oblivious!). Luckily, we have a beautiful healthy, happy little girl and that’s reason enough for us to carry on confidently in who we’re raising her! But it’s a running joke in my family that if there’s a roundabout route to do something I will find it and do it with my very own ‘weird’ flair! 

The two main things i’ve spoken about are linked, it’s not just (as it may seem!) an antibiotic led ramble (well not totally anyway!). At primary school I was equally determined to do things my own way and also terrified of ever getting into any trouble. It still makes me feel sick to my stomach if I think someone’s mad at me, a fear so bad I would be more likely to walk away than face them if I thought I’d upset them I’d always assume they’d rather I just weren’t in their life anymore! However, there’s something inside me that has always been a bit different, and it’s always led to awesome things. And believe me in my early twenties I tried to live ‘normally’, it doesn’t suit me, at all! The only times I’ve done things traditionally, are the only times I haven’t really succeeded or been happy with what I’m doing. But as you can tell, being worried about upsetting people and taking the roads unwritten is not necessarily the most comfortable combination!!

My main aims are to learn to say no, and to learn that I can’t live up to my own expectations. And the other aim is to learn that first aim significantly enough to be able to pass on a confidence to my daughter who I certainly don’t want to inherit this strange form of self doubt; it’s more important to me that she choose her own path (whatever that may be) and if I don’t understand all her decisions, I want to make sure she can argue with me without worrying she won’t have my approval. 

These past few weeks have been really tough for our little family, we don’t really have space in our life for being ill! Although that’s probably a lesson in itself. So over the next couple of weeks; we are going to get on top of the email backlog, try and get on top of sorting through some of our stuff at home (oh yes side note, we’re looking to buy a house at the moment!), as well as making sure a very busy upcoming period goes well (which will be much easier now there’s two of us in action!). It will take a little time for me to get back to full speed, but honestly, this last month has been a huge and worthwhile learning curve. 

I’ve learnt that my husband is someone I can rely on and lean on when I’m not feeling my best, I don’t have to try and deal with things on my own to try and ease other people’s stress. I’ve learnt that actually when you admit to people that you’re not invincible, a) they’re not surprised and b) they don’t actually expect you to be. I’ve learnt that things won’t fall to the ground if you take a rest and I’ve learnt that although sometimes I feel like it’s mainly admin I usually spend all my time doing, the spaces left without me filling them, were valued and important spaces. However, I have definitely learnt that I’m not a very good patient, I get restless and frustrated and feel useless and I miss being able to play with my little girl! 

I’ve also missed blogging but have found it difficult to get any writing done when I was feeling so ill, so I’m pleased to be back, as it’s a sign for myself that I’m getting back on track. I’m by no means back to my best and it’ll be a real test for me to prove to myself that I won’t start trying running before I’m properly back on my Bambi legs! To be honest if I try to get back to full speed too quickly, I’m going to end up taking one step forward and falling four steps back so to a certain extent I’ll be helped out by my own current limitations. One things for sure, I want my daughter to grow up in a (albeit it slightly weird and different way of life) but confident, happy, healthy and doing a variety of different things before being able to make her own decisions on what path she wishes to travel on. I want her to not look at other people and see what they have with envy, but instead with interest and support. Since my teenage years I’ve learnt that being critical of other people or envious of where they’re headed is pointless. I find life much more rewarding to admire others, only use friends as inspiration and it’s much easier to do that when you’re carving your own way and are happy with your choices. Scarlett will no doubt have many times where she questions whether she’s making the right choices for her, and she’s bound to make mistakes along the way; but I hope that with our support and examples, she will be able to admire blonde hair without hating her brown hair, or smile at others achievements instead of comparing them to her own. Life is not a race, none of us get out alive. Sometimes we will be ahead of the game, sometimes we’ll be behind, but as long as you’re enjoying the journey as much as you can, the rest is one massive learning curve.

I’m hugely grateful for the support I’ve received in the past few weeks, I’d felt like since being pregnant with Scarlett, I’d had quite a few bouts of low health which has bugged me, but thankfully we now have a better idea of the root cause we can hopefully avoid future periods of illness! My apologies for being away for so long, I hope you are all well and here’s to a happy healthy autumn for us all!

Much Love,

Danielle

1272156

List on life…

Standard

A couple of recent discussions with friends has lead to a list being made (pause for excitement…) ok…read on!

5 things you can’t or don’t predict when choosing a life partner.

1) How you & you’re partner vote. Politics is kind of boring and kind of important. Voting is a right many fought for & we all have our own opinions. The majority of us however, in a normal week, don’t go round talking about who we vote for. We may discuss how the potholes are becoming a disgrace or how NHS waiting times are just not good enough, but we don’t do so wearing a political sash. When elections come round, all of a sudden people are passionately discussing it. A quick look on my facebook news feed & I can see the political stance of a large portion of my friends and (thanks to online debates) their friends voting plans. I have never started a relationship and asked what party they vote for as a deal breaker. I personally enjoy a good debate over social, political, religious and moral issues but I wouldn’t cut friends out of my life over a difference of opinion (someone who makes it clear they’re voting for the ‘death to all’ party I might give a wide berth to but as a general rule..!).
My husband and I have discussed it and voted the same way. We come from very similar backgrounds and work in similar fields so it’s not a huge surprise but it’s something we hadn’t really spoken about beforehand. Having witnessed a couple have a blazing row about their political stances (one Green Party, one considering UKIP..!) it made me realise that it’s the type of thing you don’t necessarily cover at the audition stages of a relationship. You’d assume some people with really strong views might but in general, I don’t think we really do. And likewise your views can change, mine have, I’m voting differently than I did five years ago, as is my husband. We now live in a different constituency which of course can make a difference but it’s interesting to think whether it would cause friction if we chose different. I’d like to think not, but after sitting behind the unhappy Green/UKIP coalition couple, it certainly makes one wonder!
2) How to bring up children. When entering a relationship, you discuss whether or not you want children. A lot of people do it quite early on as it is make or break situation. It’s not a decision that can easily be compromised on (ok dear we won’t have children but as a compromise I want us to do more paper mâché and watch CBeebies..!). 
What you don’t necessarily go into depth with are the details. What type of school do you want your child at? Do you believe in harsh discipline or a softer approach? Even simple things, what hobbies will you encourage? No first time parent comes equipped with any experience. We’re all learning as we go and it’s a steep old learning curve. Almost every day you have to make choices and if you’re at odds with your parenting comrade, you have to debate it out before making a choice and it won’t always be the choice you would rather. 
My husband and I have avoided any major clashes but we don’t agree on everything. Im a bit more gung ho whereas my husband can sometimes err a bit more on the side of caution! That statement stands for most things in our life really, he’s always happy to get dragged along with me but I think sometimes he probably wishes I’d think about things a bit more before jumping headlong! Anyway, I recently read an article about a couple who paid for a legal go between as they had reached an issue that they simply couldn’t come to an agreement on. The Father wanted their son to attend boarding school (the one he had attended), the Mother, who knew he’d attended boarding school but had no idea he was adamant his children would follow, wanted their son to attend the local comprehensive. In a quote, “I’d homeschool before I sent my child to boarding school.” Before that sticking point, they may well have been the happiest couple on the planet! But on your fifth date when you’re considering this person as a potential long term partner, you’re not likely to discuss the schooling options of your metaphorical children! 
“I’m having a lovely time, this is a great little Italian place. So picture the scene, Sid’s passed the 11+…”
“Sorry whose Sid?”
“Sorry yes, our future son Sid, he must be named after my Grandfather. And I want him to go to boarding school. I also think that I prefer the idea of baby led weaning. Oh and by the way if you vote Lib Dem I’m leaving now.”
3) How you’ll deal with an emergency or crisis. Fingers crossed, when you meet a new partner, you’re not immediately delved into a massive crisis. You’d at least hope they’d wait for the third date to drag you into a big drama anyway! However, at some point in your relationship, one or both of you will go through something really difficult. What you don’t know going in is how one or both of you will deal with it and how (and if) you’ll be able to get through it together. 
When I was pregnant with Scarlett, my epilepsy (a condition I hadn’t really been bothered by for a number of years) reared its head. I was on medication that could potentially affect our precious cargo. My kidneys then started malfunctioning enough to hospitalise me because of the different medication I was on, and I have a bicornuate uterus which brings with it its own exciting complications! It was scary, it was upsetting, it was our first set of emergencys. In a way, it was lucky we were near the beginning of our relationship because we were able to see, yes, good, we’re both level headed, calm and deal with things like this. This will put us in good stead for the future! I know some people who are married twenty years when they suddenly are faced with a trauma that they have to deal with together. And it’s not something you can prepare for. You don’t draw up a list of emergency procedures with a list of ways you should deal with hundreds and thousands of potential situations! You can’t guess what situation you may suddenly be faced with. Life just happens to you and in the same way you can’t know for sure what’s round the corner, until something like that happens, you can’t know for sure how you’re going to deal with it as a couple.
4) Looks. I know that sounds stupid, unless you go on a blind date and then get forced to marry that person without looking at them, the majority of us can absolutely and do consider looks when choosing a partner. My Nan always used to tell me that if a boy was going to sucker me in with looks, to make sure it was the eyes and the smile that really got me as those were the only two things that would look the same at 80! 
People change, they age, they put on weight/lose weight/change their hair/change their style. Their overall look develops and changes. The oldest most tattoo’d Grandmother that has been on TV a few times started getting tattoos quite late on, her secondary school picture shows a totally different person! Health affects us, lifestyle affects us. From a physical and aesthetic point of view, chances are, we’ll look significantly different at 80 than we did at 21 (the exception is of course Jennifer Aniston who has looked that good since her early twenties and shows no signs of looking her actual age anytime soon, down to I can only assume the genes of a magical beauty unicorn!). Since we’ve been together my husband’s look has already quite dramatically changed. And so my Nan is so right, because clean shaven with a Tony Stark haircut or bearded and moustached with the long hair and ruggedness of Aragorn, the way those eyes shine when he smiles at me stays exactly the same!
5) Who we are. When I was 17, I had spent a lot of time in hospitals and really admired the hugely intelligent doctors and nurses who helped me through a difficult time when my epilepsy was in full swing. I decided I wanted to be a surgeon. When I was 6 I told my Mum I wanted to be a bus driver because I liked to travel and meet new people! For a lot of my youth and early twenties I swung between wanting to be an actress and wanting to save the world. In amongst it all I got a criminology degree, and a psychology degree because I wanted to be Poirot! Throughout everything I’ve always written, so without knowing it, I’ve always been a writer, it’s only the last couple of years I’ve actually got paid to do so. And that just covers a small array of career plans. That doesn’t touch the vast journey of my ideals, hopes and dreams. 
In your teens and early twenties, they change almost daily. By thirty you’re supposed to have worked it out but the worst kept secret is that nobody really ever does. As individuals we are constantly changing and developing and growing. We have different friends at different stages of life (as well as some precious lifelong friends who stick with us even for that few months you decided you were only going to eat grass and wanted everyone to call you Sister Nature). And it’s healthy for our goals and ideals to adjust and develop.
There is no guarantee that your partner will grow and develop on the same path as you or in a compatible way. I’ve had some brilliant past relationships where we started as ‘soul mates’ because we were both from the same school, or liked the same band or could down the same number of Jägerbombs on a night out. As they start to end, a lot of the time you realise it’s not necessarily that something’s gone wrong, you’re just not right together anymore, it’s time to disembark from the Jäger train! The chances of this happening decrease as you get older, but we also as people tend to connect with people on a deeper level, for example whether you have the same morals, similar life goals. Taste in music is still important but aged thirty you’re much less likely to decide to marry someone just because you love their Nirvana tattoo..! This of course is a generalisation. There are some teenagers who absolutely have their crap together and know exactly what they want and there are most likely some thirty year olds who decide that it’s enough that their Tamagotchis have the same name to build a life together! The point is, you can’t make a decision on a life partner based on who you will become, only who you are. And if and when that changes, it may change things. 
This may seem like a list to try and make the point that no-one should ever decide to get married because at some point, one of the above points will prove that your relationship is doomed..! NOT SO! If I had to say I was making a point, it would be that you don’t have all the answers, and won’t even necessarily recognise if you’re considering the right questions. And that’s ok. It’s kind of why life is so great. If you’ve just found out that you’re house is about to be repossessed, your husband has dyed his hair green and wants to take the kids to a cult he’s just joined on the way back from voting Tory whilst you decide actually maybe you’re now a vegetarian who wants to train to be a lawyer instead of a midwife, it’s all ok. Give yourself (and your husband) a break. It may seem like a lot, it may seem that everything you felt so sure of on your wedding day is now a sham. Not so. Life is happening to you. Firstly, cults aren’t generally safe do maybe do put your foot down on that one..! He maybe Tory and you Labour but is that important enough to make you forget how much he makes you laugh? His hair may now be a green you don’t like but maybe it brings out the hazel in his eyes? And if you want to be vegetarian and a lawyer then why the hell not! Give it a go, change your mind back and get in a double pack of bacon! 
Obviously I’m not suggesting that dramatic changes every five minutes are a sensible idea but now and then, it’s ok for things to be slightly out of your control and just see where life takes you. You can try and learn every little detail about your chosen life partner but however much you try you’ll every so often be thrown a curveball. And for some people the above causes rifts, or an individual changing is too much for the other and the relationship breaks down. And that’s really sad for all
involved but again, it’s not your fault. 
Luck has a huge role to play (as does fate if you believe in that kind of thing!) I was incredibly lucky to find my husband and I look forward to any and all of life’s curveballs for us to dance around and mould into part of our story. I hope to pass on these thoughts to Scarlett and any other children we may have in the future. 
I guess my point is, above are five things you don’t or can’t consider until they happen in a relationship. And if you can’t plan for those things, why worry about them. After all, you’re left with everything else. Does that person make your heart swell, do they feel like home, do you want to choose them as your family? My sensible advise to my children would always be to choose a life partner based on life morales and outlooks on what you want your future to look like; but just as important is that feeling. The one we can’t explain, the one that makes someone feel like family. 
So comrades, whomever you choose to spend your life with, hold on tight when the rollercoaster give us bumps and drops and let yourself adapt without worry. And wherever your journey in life takes you, hold your head up high, slap on a smile, and enjoy!

Paving your path…

Standard

IMG_7643

When you work in a ‘normal job’ you have annual leave, you have pension funds, you have a certain amount of security and you can take breaks. You even mostly get a designated two days off a week. If you work freelance you have no designated time off so you have to choose the time off, great if you’re not bothered about earning money, but if you’re a hardworking conscientious freelancer, it means you can’t ever really relax; there’ll be emails to respond to, invoices to write, tax returns to muddle through. Want me to be honest? 90% of the time, I LOVE it, I love the unpredictability, I love the variety, I love being in different towns, working with different people. Sometimes we can barely breathe for being so busy, and other times we look at the week ahead and have four days off. As with everything, there are pros and cons to each lifestyle but the one we’ve chosen can be a high maintenance one and therefore it doesn’t appeal to some.

When it comes to parenting, there’s no pension scheme, there’s no annual leave, you get very little sleep and sometimes you can’t think for how busy it is and sometimes you get quieter days and easier weeks. Seeing a slight parallel?! We keep reading articles and books which tell us about the ridiculous shock to the system parenting is, and I’m not disputing that. You’re suddenly given this little creature who is 100% dependant on you, with no handbook, and no real way of knowing what the right way to proceed is. And the self employed life doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with the baby life BUT, whilst trying to be a parent there are certain skills you need to develop, certain skills that our lifestyle has already developed. Now please don’t mistake my meaning, I am by NO way insinuating that this means we’re better parents or ahead of the game. However, for example, since being a teenager, I’ve spent many hours up in the middle of the night, admittedly it switched from writing essays to feeding a baby but still, I feel comfortable, I know how this feels. We get jobs through at last minute, and with my husband being a fight director, we’re already used to packing up the car and having lots of bags, only now it’s not swords, it’s a steriliser and a travel cot! It doesn’t put us ahead of the game, it doesn’t make us better parents but certainly it’s given us a sense of calm. We still don’t know what we’re doing but we’re used to living day by day with new things being thrown at us so it at least doesn’t really phase us! 

We often stay with friends and family when we travel around and it often gives us glimpses of what ’normal’ life looks like. Being able to commit to regular events because they know where they’ll be from week to week (and day to day!), having a full fridge instead of shopping day by day because they know they’re going to be at home to eat it; regular things, regular lives! Are we sometimes jealous of that way of life? Yes sometimes, especially when we’re eating a service station sandwich instead of a roast dinner on a Sunday because we’re on our way to or from a job. Or when we’ve finished work at 2am but know we’ll still be up early with Scarlett the next morning. And after a busy time, there is no better feeling than coming home to our own place, and getting into our own bed! And that’s what makes up the remaining 10%; but to be honest, only 10% of slight envy I’d say is pretty good going.

When Scarlett turns 4, she will be going to school and that’s when the real shock will come for us, when we are more tied to a more regular lifestyle! She is our priority and so we will have to travel a lot less as a family. We’re lucky really, we’ve already started to bring some of our stuff more local, my husband most regularly at the RSC as he is an Associate Practitioner there which is just 35 minutes down the road, and we’ve set up a more central company to expand the work we do nearby. But it will be an adjustment, that’s the thing about parenting, and life in general; sometimes you’ll be prepared, sometimes your choices will put you slightly ahead of the game, or at least let you be able to understand the game, but in the blink of an eye you’ll be in a situation that’s beyond your strengths; your highs will turn into your lows, your ‘ahead of the game’ will inevitably turn into ‘please can I stop playing..’! The phrase ‘life is a roller coaster’ is such a popular cliche because it’s so true. Apparently things like anxiety and depression have increased since social media has really taken off, and I can totally understand why; we all put our highlights online, a memoir of happiness to look back on. You don’t have a backstage pass to other people’s lives, everyone is fighting their own battles and therefore although obviously some people go through the mill more than is fair, we’re all in this big mixing pot together! So although there are some people who seem to try and feed off how other people are living their lives, it’s because they’re trying to get through their own issues.

I’ve found, when you get married, have a baby and continue working, you don’t really have time to focus on anything else and not comparing my life to anybody else’s has lead me to being the happiest I’ve ever been. Frankly it get’s tiring worrying about if you’ve made the right choices anyway! I think it’s why when you reach your 30’s, you become so much more self assured, in hindsight spending so much of my twenties worried about what type of person I wanted to be, and what type of lifestyle I wanted to live was a waste of time that thousands of people in their twenties do! But once you just start being and doing, you get a lot less headaches and enjoy what you’re doing so much more! This is wisdom that I will try and pass onto Scarlett but that doesn’t mean she won’t still go through the awkward teenage years and the messy twenties! If we’re lucky, she’ll be as confident and independent as possible but no-one gets through that time completely unscathed! The best we can do is continue to live our lives to the fullest, be true to ourselves and prove to Scarlett that whatever she chooses in life and whoever she chooses to be, we will love her unconditionally and be there for her. 

So we don’t have annual leave, we don’t have a pension scheme so we’re putting some money aside to save one up for ourselves, and day by day our schedules are wildly different. There are alternatives, we’re in for a slight lifestyle change when she goes to school, but in the meantime, we’re having a blast. None of us get a handbook for our life choices, and if we’re lucky we have fabulous friends and family who accept us for who we are (in which department, we are extremely lucky). So if Scarlett wants to get covered in tattoos, shave her head and live in a monastery, we won’t necessarily understand her choices but as her mother I will fight to the end for her right to make those choices (and try and ensure she at least chooses a sanitary tattoo parlour!).  

A lot of my fellow bloggers have lives that are slightly sideways of ‘normal’, in that they don’t work 9-5pm Monday to Friday, and I love reading what choices they’ve made. One of my main problems in my twenties is that I wasn’t sure which choice to make, there are hundreds of options and all worth exploring, but at some point you have to have the confidence to say THIS, this is what I’m doing. It’s not to say you can’t look into the other options and keep a few other contenders as hobbies, but decisions do need to be made. Whether you’re in your twenties and struggling, or lucky enough to have already discovered your calling (I always envied those with such a clear idea early on) know that there is no correct answer, and therefore no wrong answer. Life is short (wow I’m full of the cliches today hey!) and nobody else gets to walk your path so if you want to have trees lining the path or high fences up around it, you plant those trees, you build that fence. The path only has to be attractive to you, other people can visit you on it but nobody else will be living there (have I bled the path analogy sufficiently enough yet?) It’s taken me years to decide on my path, and mines filled with cups of tea in ornate tea sets, everyone who visits gets to wear a cape, everyone gets their dream theatre role and there’s an abundance of thai food! So whatever path you choose, forget everything you think you have to worry about (a good piece of advice I had once was to think about whether the ‘disaster’ you were facing would still be a disaster in five years time) and concentrate on making your path as perfect for you as possible. Every flavour of ice-cream has its fans (a little mix up of metaphors there to brighten the post…you’re welcome!) and why would you stop eating coconut if it’s your favourite just because more people think strawberry is the best? It makes no sense, only you lose out. It’s like anger, holding onto it is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die (now I’ve started with the analogies, they won’t stop so strap in people!) doing things because you think it’s the most socially acceptable is like putting yourself in solitary confinement and expecting other people to be bored (that one doesn’t work so well but I didn’t get the best nights sleep last night so cut me some slack). 

Anyway, what I’ve spent far too long saying is that the variety of life is what makes it so amazing. Live yours, visit others and enjoy the change and experiences visiting them bring, don’t judge others on their choices just because it’s not necessarily what you’d do. And if you do all that you may just surprise yourself and how much free-er you feel, the time you spend worrying you can swap for time spent enjoying your life! I turn 30 in a  couple of weeks and I have no worries about entering a new decade; getting older is not something that scares me, I enjoy looking back, I reminisce a lot, but these days I’m much more secure in my future and now I’ve decorated my path to my tastes, I’m thoroughly enjoying being here!