posted on: Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Maybe...somewhere, there is another me. One of my most precious friends Emma, said she was in the Royal Albert Hall the other night and saw someone just like me. Mannerisms and everything. This leads me to believe that in the city of London there is a version of me whooping up the city life. Instead of rural dog walks, she strides Bond Street. Instead of playing lego with a six year old, she sips lattes and reads the city pages, wondering which fabulous place to frequent for dinner tonight. Instead of doing circuit training with the mummies, she does Ayurveda yoga in an urban bolt-hole. Instead of kissing her 10 year old girl goodnight, she contemplates whether or not having a baby would enhance her life. I hope she's channelling her Alexa Chung and wearing brogues and a satchel, complete with 1980's throw-back irony.

via atlantic pacific
I do wonder sometimes how the life choices I have made have been pre-ordained? As if some cosmic force has kept me in my hometown, married to the boy next door. My children will tread the same steps as I did in my youth and I like that. There is something complete about it. But there will always be a part of me that wonders...what would it have been like if I had taken a different path?

This clearly represents the root of my mid-life crisis; a distinct sense that decisions have been made and now it's down to me to live them. I am completely and entirely comfortable with my life decisions; but the idea that there could be another me, somewhere else, is mind-bending. I hope she's having as nice a time as me!  ;-)

photograph by stephanie rausser

Mother work...

posted on: Monday, 2 April 2012

I've spent some time considering the plight of the working mother. This is a topic I often land on, having spent the best part of ten years juggling a corporate job and a family. But recently I have observed my sister in law enter the fray as she has returned to work after her maternity leave. I've been wondering: what are my words of wisdom to her? I have this overwhelming urge to warn and protect her from the tougher elements of being a working mother as if it is a battle zone that she is entering. Of course it isn't. Many women can work and have children and it all goes swimmingly.

I wonder why for all the years that I have worked, after having children, I drove myself so hard, not content to let anything slip. To the extent that I became slightly unhinged. My hinges are back on now, but the fact remains: why can't it be easier to have a job and a family?

...beautiful Jackie...via pretty stuff
In practical terms, I stood by my methods which over the years oiled the wheels, ensuring our life stayed on track. I religiously got our weekly food shopping on a Monday and planned what we would eat so there was always food in the house. Not having adequate or nutritious food was a surefire way to feel I was failing. Likewise, I ran a laundry system where I devised a cupboard dedicated to laundry sorting; a whites shelf, a coloured shelf, a darks shelf. All meaning that laundry was ready to be scooped and moved into the process, already colour coded. This made me feel in control. If no member of your family has clean clothes, you feel like you're failing.

I'd plan weekend social engagements three to four months in advance, so at least my husband and I felt were seeing friends and living life. Being a social recluse makes you feel like you're failing.

I'd fantasise about sorting my entire house so that every item had its own place. In my mind this was the key to not feeling like you're failing.

And all the time, with these measures I would be in control and there would be no variables. But in reality, life does throw variables our way and so I would get sick or the kids would. Or there would be a school trip or an event that I had not catered for in my planning. Or I would simply forget who was meant to be where and when.

In short, it required military levels of organisation and discipline to make it work. Constantly thinking ahead. Not to mention normal life stuff like dentist visits and haircuts and school projects and weekends away. Family lunches and friends' birthdays and thank you cards.

via pretty stuff
And now of course I can see that these rigorous demands, all self-imposed, were my undoing. For years, so staunchly did I defend this way of life. And now, when I observe it in myself I see that fundamentally, something had to give.

And so it has given. A shift of seismic proportions in my little life. And now I contemplate the future and wonder...where do I want to take it?

via pretty stuff