Finding Where We Fit
Here’s a list of five of my skills.
1. Mother - there are SO many sub groups here, lets not go there.
2. Womenswear buyer - although I haven't been paid for this since 2002, I still like to do it.
3. Advice giver - I’m pretty good at this I think, I’m more emotionally intelligent than I look.
4. Listener - whilst its fair to say I like to talk, I enjoy listening more.
5. Singer -as bathroom singers go, I’d definitely make the x-factor judges houses, I can harmonise too, can someone tell Ed, we could collab maybe?
So, some skills more useful than others!
I’m 43 at the end of this month, FORTY THREE! Don’t get me wrong, I am happy with the age thing, comfortable in my own skin, I am OK with me. What I am less ok with, is that all of a sudden I am missing the ‘Slinky Malinki and Stickybeak Syd were a troublesome pair do you know what they did?’ stage; where everything could be made better with a Percy Pig and a hug (this kind of still works now) but with my big boy coming up to fourteen, I’m feeling all melancholy, and just questioning a teeny bit, where I fit exactly.
When I was vomming into the bin at work and sleeping past my tube stop home, Will and I came to the decision together that for me to continue my career in retail would be challenging to combine as a parent and my salary would cover the child care costs and not a fat lot else. At the time Will was a full-time rugby professional , he was away so much of the time, weekends, evenings, it wasn’t even like it would a 50/50 parenting split. It was the right decision for us. I appreciate how lucky we were to have been in the position to make this choice, every single day.
I threw myself into parenthood, no insta, no parenting guides. Just shit loads of judgement, (from myself to myself mostly) and no-one to make me feel better about it. That said, I lucked out, in that I was part of the Southfields massive, I managed to hook up with an awesome crew of brilliant women. We started off meeting for baby massage classes on a Tuesday. Are they still a thing?! It then continued for the next 5 years into ‘house wrecking Tuesday’. We supported each other, babysat for each other, had countless more babies, which we celebrated together.
We moved out of London when Rocco was a day old, yep, 24 little hours. My VJJ was still bucket sized, I had a five year old who didn’t want to move because ‘there was no dinosaur tree at the new house’ and a three year old, who wanted the baby to be pushed back up the aforementioned nethers and stay there forever. It was like being in a leaky, pooey mist. But I absolutely knew my purpose, I felt strongly I knew my path, my mind, my worth.
Fast forward another few years and we were given a steady trickle of diagnoses for Matilda, we knew she was different from about the age of three. By around five or six, these were coming in thick and fast. Her issues are not the purpose of this piece, but suffice to say, I felt I owed it to her, to find out as much as humanely, about all she had. Knowledge is power and I felt (and still do) that it’s all just part of being a good parent. So I threw myself into it, going to every seminar, reading every book, whilst remaining mindful that I had two boys to raise also. Nothing new there.
My point here, if you’re still with me! Is that, my children clearly still need me, I’m not putting myself out to pasture yet! But what I think is maybe a commonality for some, is finding where they fit after a substantial length of time doing one thing, it doesn’t have to be parenting. You could have been out of work for a decade plus, by choice or not. Finding a career that you can combine with parenthood is a challenge, whatever age your kids are. Or being brave enough to do something about changing your current ‘life course’ is really bloody hard.
So why do I feel like this now? I’m still an utterly devoted parent. It's not that they aren’t enough or I want ‘more’ so to speak. But I think after being Archie, Matilda and Rocco’s Mummy for so long, maybe what I need is a slightly different ID. Not my old one, a nuance of my current one, using the skills I have accumulated over the past decade or so. This is NOT a midlife crisis, fear not, I've no plans to run off with the personal trainer (I don’t actually have one btw!) or start using the term ‘me time’. I’m not overly fond of that phrase actually. Nor do I want to have my cake and scoff it. I live an exceptionally fulfilled and happy life for the most part. But there has been a very real ‘life shift’ of late and I’m just trying to figure this out.
I guess Its about finding a good mental state, a comfortable place. I don’t believe we should expect to be happy at all times, happiness and sadness are all part of life, what we strive for is the middle ground. The middle ground at middle age, jeez now theres a line! If the pre school years are phase 1, the primary years are phase 2, we are in the murky new waters of phase 3, with only one primary aged child left and what that’s done is left a very small pause for me to go, right CJG, time to dust off a few skills you've learnt along the way.
Here's the thing. There are no ‘York notes’ to tell us how we are truly going to feel when we plunge into parenthood, (although I am reliably informed the Pukka’s book is a great crib!) Whether it’s marriage, career changing… if you are sitting around waiting for the ‘I’ll know when I am ready’ epiphany; stop. The catalyst you’re waiting for, may never happen.
Life evolves around us, we can either metamorphose or face the inevitable life discontent.
My believe is, It's not that the fit wasn’t right before, it was. It was bang on, don't look for fault where there is none. It’s just that the jigsaw puzzle has changed, so we, ‘the jigsaw piece’, no longer fit into the previous jigsaw. So evolve, write down the new game plan and see where you slot. We have to reinvent ourselves way more than Madonna if we want to find life equilibrium and whats more, if you’re a parent. It’s great for our kids to see this.
This new journey I am on is just that, my own journey. I am attempting to combine all of my skills and everything that I love to do, to find some kind of middle ground continuum. I have to keep telling myself, it’s ok to have limited communication from the teen, he knows I am here for him when he needs me. Matilda- well Boo’s her own bible! I’ll have to micro manage her for a while longer. Rocco - the other two have made his life way easier, I’ve kind of got this parenting thing down, ish.
I’ve accepted my organisational skills need and will continue to always need work. That I will feel daily guilt for something, anything. That I will worry about my children at every stage, but (inserting small advice snap) I have realised that they are far more equipped for their life journey than we think. Our kid's take life in their stride because we are good at what we do. We have provided this steely undersurface for them and whatever path they choose, we, the humans that know them better than anyone else in the world, will instinctively know how to guide them. We will be ready, because, guess what, we’re always ready! That is the key.
When I started this platform I had a plan, kind of. Even that’s evolved a little now. Its a positive, I’m going with it. At work we banded a phrase around daily. JFDI - Just Fucking Do It. I’m going to go with this for now.
Seriously though, anyone know Ed….?