Saturday, 29 May 2010

The Story of My Life

I can hear the collective groan throughout the blogosphere but don’t worry, I won’t bore you with the story of my life. It’s too long and convoluted and dull in so many ways. But I’ve been thinking about the days and the years of my life lately, analyzing them, and combing through their pesky and, sometimes painful, snarls with a fine-toothed comb. And you know what? I’m okay with the place that I’m in right now. Maybe I have a set of crampons and a gigantic pick-axe to grind or maybe I’m just trying to make sense of my place in this world. Who knows why I need to figure out if this is the 'right' life for me. I’ve struggled and I’ve felt conflicted and I’ve wondered if my university education is being wasted by staying home to raise my children. Have I become a June Cleaver housewife, a woman of no substance, a Stepford wife? I wasn’t that to begin with so why should I be that person now just because I made a choice to raise my own children?

Yes, I’m a stay at home mother. There, I’ve said it. Actually, I shouted it but you couldn’t hear it because you’re reading words on paper. There’s something else I want to say. I’m a writer. I’m not published but, by gum, I write. No, I’m not soaring upwards and crashing through the glass ceiling in a fancy office. That doesn’t make me a loser and it doesn't make me a hero. My life is not that black and white, it’s a lovely soft shade of grey, so flattering in these Northern Lights. The person I am today is about the choices I have made along the way. Is there really a good choice versus a bad choice? I don’t really think so. Sometimes it's about making your choices right.

You know how people are always asking that question: What if? What if I could change something about my life, what would it be? If I went down that road and wished that I could change something, go down a different path, where would I begin? What if I had pursued my passion and gone into a creative field, something that involved writing, when I graduated from university? What if I had published a book when I was 22 years old? Did I have anything to say when I was 22, before I really lived and experienced the pain and the pleasure, the clock-stalling tedium and the extraordinary? That book would have gone straight to the charity shop racks. What if I had stayed in New York and never accepted that transfer to London? And never gotten drunk on raspberry martinis in a bar with the man who later met me at the altar after I walked down the aisle to the strains of ‘Moon River’? How dismal would my life be if I didn’t have my fabulous, eccentric, cheeky Scrumptious or my gorgeous, brilliant Truly? What if I said ‘no’ when my lovely husband expressed a desire to relocate to Tokyo because I wanted to stay in London and pursue a career? And missed out on an opportunity to gorge myself on sushi and meet a beautiful, soul-mate friend, and give my daughters the experience of a lifetime?

So you know what I think about that What If game? I think it’s ludicrous and I think it’s self-absorbed rubbish. It’s like tossing a stone into a river and expecting that you can control the ripples, that each of the circles will return to you, as if you can forcibly change their direction or limit their reach, and that they won’t affect anything or anyone else unless you say so.

Hopefully, there will be a lot more chapters in the story of my life. As Truly said to me this evening, 'You still have time to become an English Lit professor or take an art class or write your book.' And she's right. I can choose to do those things or not. It's my choice. And that's why it's so much better to be a human being than to be a head of broccoli or a firefly.

I’m in reasonably sound mind, despite what my detractors might say, so the decisions I’ve made in my life have all been mine. I take responsibility for them, I embrace them like a familiar lover, and sometimes I curse them. Sometimes I wrap my arms around my knees, rock back and forth, and keel in misery. Other times, I jump up and down on my pogo stick and feel that I can just about touch the clouds with the tips of my fingers. At times I am quirky and corny and wrapped up in daydreams. I live in the clouds, I conjure up spirit worlds, I am often out of step with the parade. But it’s my parade and I’m high-stepping my way through a rousing rendition of a La Cage Aux Folles show tune, wielding a sparkly baton, and for some reason imagining that I look like Sienna Miller playing Edie Sedgwick in ‘The Factory Girl.’ It is, after all, my parade. And by golly, ‘I Am What I Am.’ And we all know that needs no excuses. I might be a stay at home mother but it doesn't mean that my life is small or that I have subjected myself to a life of servitude or that my life is in any way demeaning.

This is what I have figured out. Someday, when the days are long and the years are short, and I pray to the pagans and gods and anyone who will listen that it’s many years from now, I will look back and say ‘This is the Story of My Life.’ And I will remember the joy and the pain, the times when I patched things up with a Dora the Explorer plaster, and the sheer exhilaration that goes with living a life well, to the fullest, without making excuses for who I am and why I am not like everyone else. And, gods and pagans willing, when I’m drooling into my supper will I be proud of the story of my life? Hell, yes. Because it's my story and I'm sticking to it.


  1. I'm constantly asking myself 'what if' and all it does is confuse the issue. Life is not 'Sliding Doors', it's about the choices you make along the way. And I'm happy with where I've ended up so far. I hope the rest of the story of your life is this interesting - at least you know it's well-written!

  2. Another great thought provoking post. Love the way you write. I'm not quite where you are - I do often wonder 'what if?'. I'm proud of being a SAHM don't get me wrong, or even a WAHM, but I sometimes wonder how it could have gone.

  3. I don't know if you've been following the news about the dismal state of higher education funding (both here and abroad) but perhaps you might wish to reconsider that gig as an English Lit professor... ;-)

  4. You most certainly are a writer, a sensational one at that. This may sound odd - I swapped degree courses at the end of my first year - I went from French & Classics to French & Italian. I loved my degree and had a ball travelling and living abroad but always sort of longed for my first love - Classics. Guess where I am going to be two evenings a week come September ! I'm terrified !

    I don't believe that staying at home and looking after your children is any way less credible than working - each family makes the right choice for them as a unit - the perception that being an SAHM is in any way inferior is in my mind quite wrong. I have a feeling you're just getting started.... xx

  5. life in a pink fibro, oh, I love the film 'Sliding Doors.' It is about the choices we make along the way.

    deer baby, I think the What If is very natural but I'm giving it up because, for me, it was too conflicting. I felt like it was getting in the way of me living my life, the reality of my life today.

    NFAH, hmm, maybe I'll have to re-think the professor route:)

    Belgravia wife, that's wonderful. I admire you for pursuing your passion. I can't wait to hear all about it.

  6. My daughter asked me once 'how will I know when I'm successful?' And I said 'when you're happy.' And I knew right then it was my job to show her how to find happiness in the small as well as the big things, to appreciate the moment, the love the time spent slowly and to aim for a life where she can share love and happiness with others. CORNY!!!! I know, I know. But its all true!

    I dont want my daughter to focus on the most promotions or the biggest bank account, i also dont want her to focus on the richest guy. I want her to have a solid sense of worth in herself and just look for jobs she will enjoy, and look for good, fun people to enjoy her life with.

    And as far as being a SAHM, I love staying at home and I just see it as a phase in my life. We are lucky to live in a time that accepts career changes--especially for women and its very liberating to know we can have several careers in our lives--one is a SAHM.

    Sorry... Ive gone on a rambling blah blah blah now havent I?! I wont edit, Im sure you'll find something sensible in my comment (somewhere) ;)

  7. Michelloui, you're a wonderful role model and I love the advice you give your daughter, 'when you're happy.' She's very lucky to have a mom like you. I love corny. And you're right--we are very lucky that we've been able to choose this life of a SAHM.

  8. Just found your blog through some other blogs and I love it! Thanks for all you write.

    Also, I'm currently reading "Committed" by Elizabeth Gilbert - she asks herself a lot of the same questions you do! You might enjoy it - I certainly am.