(un)maternal instinct.

via Daily Prompt: Age

Having recently overcome (have I?) internal struggles with the decision not to have children I was wondering what I would be leaving behind in this world when it is my time to go. For most people it is their offspring and whatever personal fortune they have amassed, for a few it is something ground-breaking like the discovery of gravity or a lifetime spent fighting for a higher cause, for others it may be distinctive works of art, literature, music.  ‘What can I leave behind?’ I asked.  ‘Why do you need to leave anything?’ came the reply.  I don’t really know, but it feels like I should have something to commemorate my time on this planet, however long that may be.  Seeing as there won’t be any children or grandchildren with any fond sugar coated memories of me.  ‘I’d like to save an endangered species or something’, I mused.  A wry smile was the response to that one.  I know, highly unlikely given my career choices thus far and not having money to start over again, again.  But hopefully I do have time on my side, time enough to do SOMETHING.  To live a good life, to not just sit and rot inside and do nothing.

At almost 40 I feel like the time to have children has passed. I know plenty of people are having babies at exactly this age, or even older, but I don’t think it is for me.  My friends say you will never regret it, but you might regret not having one.  I’ve never really felt maternal, teaching hundreds of children didn’t make me want one of my own, I love my nieces but I like going home to my dog after visiting them.  I don’t particularly coo over babies.  I definitely don’t coo at them when they are older!  All I hear are people moaning about how tired they are, how their kids piss them off, ‘mum probs’ is a whole world on the internet… Of course they all say it’s worth it though, the love is overwhelming and I’m sure the bond is magical.  And I won’t have that, it’s my choice, but it’s not been an easy one.  Because you’re expected to reproduce, your friends start settling down mid-twenties and you can’t find ‘the one’.  They all have their families and lives, they get busy with school and Mum groups and play dates, and it can get pretty lonely out there on your own.  I have found someone I want to spend my days with now, but as I said, I think the time for having children, were I ever going to, has gone.  I don’t want to be 50 years old with a 10 year old trailing round with me, mistaken for being Grannie.  To be 60 with a child barely out of their teens.  ‘I think you can’t decide because you feel like you’re supposed to want one, that’s what you’re expected to do, and that’s what you’re struggling with’, he said.  He was right.  I often feel there must be something wrong with me because I just don’t have those urges, never have.  I want to live near the sea and have animals and a vegetable patch, I want to be creative, to have quiet to read my books, to not watch cbeebies for several years.  And yes I will be set apart from my friends because that’s what happens when they all have little ones and you don’t.  But that’s not a reason to have them.  To have a child to give you a purpose isn’t fair either.  I need to find my own purpose.  Perhaps it would in a way be easier to be told I can’t have them, then the decision is out of my hands, I can cry and it’s not my fault, it’s just the way it is and I can’t be judged for it.  Although why I should be bothered by other people’s judgments is another matter entirely.  I often think of the injustice though when there are so many wonderful people that desperately want children but can’t have them versus those that pop them out one after the other and don’t even take care of them properly.  Parenting is not a game, it’s hard work.  It’s all or nothing.  Perhaps more people should think or act more carefully before getting impregnated- do they want them, can they afford them (another big reason for me not to!), are they willing to do everything they can for them, will they teach them and make them into the best people they can?  If any of the answers are no, then perhaps use contraception!  Some people just don’t give a shit though and life is probably easier for them because they don’t give a shit.  Now who’s being judgey?!

The world is not a kind place, it is difficult and scary and confusing. It is expensive and competitive, it is dangerous, it is cruel in so many ways.  Conversely there is love, there is the sun shining over the sea on a clear day, there are friendships and laughter, many wonderful places to travel to and experience.  There cannot be bad without the good.  Is it enough to bring yet another person into this over-populated, supply dwindling, damaged planet though?  News articles are always telling us how difficult it is to be growing up these days, that the pressures are immense, that technology is ruining childhood and that we’re going into meltdown.  But maybe your child could be the one to save the world (or a facet of it)… Perhaps, unlikely though.  I just don’t feel the need to satisfy a primitive urge (that I seem to lack) to procreate.  Maybe the few of us that make this choice are natures way of trying to cut back the numbers.  Someone has to.

People keep telling me I’m not too old to have a child. Physically perhaps not.  Mentally definitely not!  I had a dream last night and in it I think I did have a kid.  Constant barrage of baby pictures on social media.  There’s really no escaping it.  Look what you’re not doing, look what you’re missing out on, how great is this…

A wise friend said once you make your choice and accept it, it becomes a lot easier and you just get on with living.  I guess I haven’t made the choice concrete enough.  I don’t even know if I could have a child.  Another worry to add to the long list would be the risks of being a ‘geriatric’ mother and implications it could have on the foetus.  Could be fine.  Like most things in life, you just never know.  And my thoughts spiral to think that because I’ve said I don’t want children, if I did end up having one would I be punished, would karma intervene and make the child ill or disabled to serve me right?  Melodramatic I know, such are the whirrings of my mind.  Probably shouldn’t over think things so much, over complicate things.  Should just do them.  Never know what’s going to happen blah blah blah.  Less thinking, more doing.  Bit like my ‘diet’ mantra, eat less, do more.  Keeping it simple.

I have a tendency to lean towards the blue end of the happiness scale. I’ve been better, in the last few years, but I know it is there.  I don’t want to inflict that on a mini me either.  Or risk tipping back into the blackness I’ve been known to visit because of the demands and tedium of being a parent, or simply because the hormones and chemicals in my brain send me that way.  (Not that having no family to look after doesn’t have its tedium or glum moments, it most certainly does- and both have joyous times too, I know, don’t be mad at me).

For me though, I know that no one greets you like your dog, spinning around and tail wagging furiously, toy in mouth, so happy to see you. Hello Mummy I missed you!  It is the best welcome and cannot fail to put a smile on your face.  My dog is just delicious, he’s the best thing in the world.  I used to think people were mental when they referred to themselves as Mums and Dads of dogs.  But I understand now, and maybe being a dog Mummy is all I will ever be and I completely love it.  And maybe that’s just what I am supposed to be, or do, and I’m happy with that.

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Conclusions of ruminations.

via Daily Prompt: Ruminate

I read an anecdote a little while ago about Eeyore and how his friends were accepting of him, never asking him to cheer up, not expecting him to be anything but himself- gloomy as he is, that they love him just the way he is.  This really resonated with me and reminded me of times in my past… however accurate this may or may not be in regards to Eeyore’s stories (I also read his friends were a bit shitty to him at times…), it still struck a chord. I distinctly remember being told I was hard work to be around, because I was unhappy and pessimistic (amongst other traits that I could’ve listed as the things I hate most about myself). Truth is, it was in all likelihood depression.  But ever since then, and this was about a decade ago, I have always felt more prominently than before that even if I feel like things are not going so great, or if I’m sad about something, that I have to hide these feelings and just plaster on a fake smile and summon all my dwindling energy to pretend life is going great guns.  So that they won’t think I’m a burden, or don’t want to be around me, or that I’m a ‘Debbie downer’.  Things are always ‘fine’ or ‘great’, even if they’re not.  Even now though I just cannot get on board with the constant, constant #blessed, #grateful epidemic.  I just can’t.  I AM grateful for a lot of things, I DO realise how lucky I am in so many ways.  But sometimes I AM sad, or angry, or anxious.  And I like to think that this is ok, because we are not built to be in a state of one constant emotion.  If you don’t experience pain how can you know what pleasure is?  And all those other antonyms.  I don’t think it is a bad thing to, if you need it, allow yourself to be sad for a while.  Or a little bit of any of those other ‘negative’ emotions.  Sometimes, life is like that, it is just a bit shit.  It just is, for whatever reason.  And there’s no amount of throwing glitter on it that’s going to dress it up to be a glamourous VIP event.  As long as we keep it all in perspective, we pick ourselves back up (hopefully with a little help from our friends, who won’t shun us for periods of melancholy) I don’t think we should feel like we have to hide it, or be ashamed of feeling this way.  Life isn’t all a contrived, curated facebook feed.  And if it’s MORE than just a period of sadness, if it is actual depression, illness, even more reason for them to be supportive and not so judgemental.

I myself am an ’overcarer’- I’m too bothered by things, which leads to anxiety. I know that mindful practises point you towards focussing on the positive and when there is a negative feeling creeping in you can use breathing and various techniques to block it and get back to the happy.  I’m on board with this, certainly.  I think it is more the shoving it in your face, look how brilliant everything is, I am NEVER unhappy, I am ALWAYS grateful for everything ever ever EVER facades that get on my wick.  Because I don’t believe it, I think it is a false projection of what you want people to see.  I guess that is social media all over though.  They’re just platforms, ones we weren’t used to; we used to just get on with it and not document every living second of our day, weren’t competing with 200+ odd ‘friends’ to show just how wonderful our lives are, or thrusting our opinions on a daily basis on such a large captive audience.  I sound old- ‘it wasn’t like that in my day… things were better in the good old days…’.  Perhaps they were though, simpler times.  Maybe, like most overhauls, some of the changes are great and some we might actually be better off without.

 

 

 

 

Daily mess.

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Feeling far from it.  The daily grind is wearing me down; I feel fairly isolated, angry, bored.  It’s been almost 2 years since I swapped teaching for office admin and it is slowly driving me bonkers.  I don’t know what it is I want, everything scares me and I have become ridiculously indecisive.  One minute I am ready to pack it all in and move away.  The next I am retreating and deciding maybe it’s better the devil you know…  and then the next moment I want to leave the country entirely!  Job is just a job, it’s not a career or a passion and at times it’s barely even a job, more like sitting at a desk for a prescribed number of hours trying to look busy.  I’m not sure how many other people have ‘occupations’ like this, and I’ve said before it sounds just brilliant (which it can be for a time) but it is actually soul destroying after several years!

I am angry.  Angry at the way the world is.  All the idiotic acts occurring every day- just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does.  Speaking of idiocy, you know ‘now is not the time to discuss gun laws’.  No, course it isn’t.  They don’t know why he did it, so until they know that…. they don’t have the facts and can’t be talking about changing laws in a knee jerk fashion…  FACT IS he could legally buy an arsenal of fecking weapons regardless of what the motive was!!  There’s your fecking fact.  But never mind.  They need guns to shoot the bad guys.  Except the bad guys will probably mow them all down first before they get to their ‘good guy’ guns.  I just do not understand the stupid obsession with having the right to own a bloody gun.  I hate guns.

It’s the Daily Mess.

 

Between savouring & shunning the Big Build Up

via Daily Prompt: Savor

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything.  I got busy, I guess.  And now one of the biggest events of my life is approaching at terminal velocity and I’m finally having a few minutes to actually think about it.  The Big Day is less than 2 weeks away, everything is ordered, dresses and suits are ready, hair trials completed, venues booked; there is nothing left to do but enjoy it.  Except I can’t.  Because I am a ball of anxiety.  Just waiting for something to go wrong.  Which it probably will, but not to the catastrophic scale that I am imagining.  What’s the worst that could happen?  His ex bursting in at the ‘does anybody object’ part, he doesn’t turn up, someone dying in the days before it happens… logically, the likelihood of anything like this occurring is extremely low.  Not impossible, but not likely.

I had my hair done yesterday, this is a rare treat for me.  Half of me was really enjoying it, while the other half was worrying about an adverse reaction to the products used and thinking my face would swell up and my body would shut down- really ridiculous, and any sane person would say just that- stop being ridiculous.  In fact, Husband-to-be took my phone off me when he saw me googling ‘reactions to hair dye’, despite me not having any reactions except a slight itch, probably a psychosomatic one at that.  I actually feel like I am going mad.

I’ve always been an anxious person, but I thought I was doing pretty well with it lately.  The last few years I’ve settled down and felt actually rather positive about life.  Just a few weeks ago I was positively brimming with confidence and feeling like a winner, like finally everything was just going great.  What’s burst the bubble?  I don’t know.  My dog was ill and I was instantly panicking about him, the joy turned to tears because I didn’t know what to do, visited an emergency vet and he said he would be fine.  I vaguely relaxed but spent the whole night listening to my poor hound pacing around not able to get comfortable.  The next day he actually was fine, it had been an upset tummy that’s all.  But that started a spiral of negative thoughts I suppose and imagining of terrible scenarios… I had been too upbeat, things were going too well, it was obviously time for that to change!  And yet, no, nothing has changed.  That was just a bump, everything is fine.  I just need to learn to control/switch off these calamitous thoughts and focus on reality.  I have a lot to look forward to, I’m very fortunate at the moment and I have supportive people that put up with my crazy and reign me back in when I start to float away with it.  So I should get back to savouring this time, not shunning it in a panic, and enjoy what will hopefully be a relaxed day filled with love!

See these headphones?…

Been sitting on my butt all morning, so I decided to go for a walk at lunchtime.  I’m in a small office by myself, so I largely talk to no one for most of the day other than via written methods.  I was, by lunchtime, not even in the mood to talk to anyone having various musings about boredom and frustration swirling round my brain, so I plugged my very visible headphones into my phone, placed them on my lugholes and set off listening to some old tunes.  What a ruse, I thought!  No one will approach me in the shops now, it is quite clear from my giant headphones that I do not want to be spoken to!  I thought this was remarkably clever and couldn’t believe I hadn’t tried it before… How wrong I was!  Perhaps I looked especially dodgy and overt, trying too hard to not be spoken to that the shopkeepers felt compelled to come over and ask me if I needed any help, despite not really being able to hear them so they had to come especially close (invasion of space- another pet hate!) in order for me to know that, yes, I’m talking to you whether you like it or not.  No, my music wasn’t ridiculously loud, I’m not trying to make myself deaf, they’re just good noise cancelling headphones.

We’re not in America here.  It’s not all ‘hi, how are you today?’ as soon as you step foot over the threshold.  If I wanted help, I’d ask for it!  And if I DID actually want help no doubt the assistants would be nowhere to be found, because that’s how it goes!  It’s one of those unwritten rules. Over attentive shop assistants eyeing you like you’re a thief just because you’re idly browsing should be banned.  Let me look in peace.  Look at the visual clues I’m providing that are screaming ‘leave me alone!’  I didn’t see them approaching anyone else in the shop, why pick the one person perusing un-obstructively by themselves?

Sure, some people like chatting.  Me, not so much.  Obviously I am an introvert, I’m uncomfortable often in big social situations.  I figured out the other day that my ideal number of people to be talking in a group to is 3, including me.  4 at a push.  Obviously 2 is great, but that’s not really a group.  Any more than 4 and I’m rendered practically silent, always missing the moment to interject with my relevant anecdotes/information/comments.  I’m not interested in being the loudest or shouting over others, to me more isn’t necessarily merrier- I prefer quality small group conversations.  So that’s out there now, that’s just how I am.  Rant over.

 

 

 

 

Waiting

My left eyelid is twitching furiously as I write this.  It’s been doing it for the last 3 days, intermittently.  Waiting for it to pass and hoping no one misconstrues my eye rubbing and winking to mean anything other than I’ve got an itchy, twitchy eye.  My whole head feels fuzzy at the moment, weighted with sadness and frustration and boredom.  I’ve not felt so down for some time, I just want to lie in bed and sleep.  I contemplated ringing in sick, but that’s just not me so I forced myself to get up and journey into work.  Part of the problem is that ‘work’ isn’t much of a distraction, I’ve hardly anything to do.  Sitting at a desk for 8 hours trying to fill in the time is in itself quite disheartening.  I know I’ve talked about it before, it sounds great doing nothing… but after a few days it’s really not.  I also know I can go from doing nothing to being crazy busy in the blink of an eye… blink…blink… no, not yet.

Apart from my professional slump and wondering what to do there are other, real, heart-breaking situations involving my dearest friends that are making me feel unhappy.  Because I can’t help and I can’t make things better for them and they’re some of the nicest people you would ever meet so why are these things happening to them?  One has cancer and her treatment isn’t working.  There are other options, but I know she is tired of all of it.  She has a 3 year old who is gorgeous and needs his Mummy.  I can only remain hopeful and try to be as positive and strong as she is herself and do anything I can to help get her through this.  Of the options, quitting is not one of them.

My oldest childhood friend who I’ve known for 34 years was recently pregnant, I was touching her bump just a few weeks ago, but there were complications and the baby was delivered at just shy of 6 months; she was born sleeping.  This was devastating news and I can’t even begin to imagine how they must all be feeling.  She has a little girl who was looking forward to being a big sister, they’re amazing parents; where is the justice in all this?

I continue to wait for some good news, this year has not delivered much of it.  It seems everyone has their own suffering and to most, you’d never even know.  I acknowledge that I currently have very little to moan about personally, I am grateful for all that I have, I just wish I could do more to help my friends, to help make their pain and sorrow go away.  Others tell me all I can do is be there for them, it just doesn’t feel like enough.

No more ‘the fear’.

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For the first time in a decade the first week of September has not induced “the fear” in me.  Going back to work after a week’s holiday did not result in sleepless nights, panicked and anxious about returning, fretting about the months ahead.  It was most welcome to feel ok and un-agitated about work.  In fact I had a rather pleasant first day back, donning my post-grad gowns and attending a graduation ceremony in Harry Potter-esque surroundings as a member of staff.  (Although I’m admin and not an academic, it was nice to be included!)

I managed to get up on Monday morning and leave home with a spring in my step and a twinkle in my eye.  People say ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’, but I tried that for 10 years and it was not doing me any favours.  I did do it, I worked really hard at it and quite frankly it was making me ill.  And I knew that change was needed.  For a long time, but perhaps I also feared change.  Teaching was what I did, it was what I knew, even if I didn’t enjoy it.  It seemed impossible to break away from it.  And I worried I would be going backwards, taking a step down… I was proud to be a teacher if nothing else, I thought it was something worthwhile.  I was caught in a bubble of benchmarking, was I a failure for leaving the profession?  Answer:no.

There are many paths to success and none of them have to be defined by your job title.  For some people it may well be wealth, prestige, a high flying career… for others it could be raising a family and caring for others… it could be finding love and getting that happy ever after!  Success doesn’t have to be identified by others expectations, I’d do well to remember that- although I think all the pressure came (still comes) internally from me in reality.  Yes I still have something in me that thinks I could/should be doing something more, but what that is, well I’ve no idea.  Because really, I’m much happier and in a far better place (emotionally, psychologically, generally) than I ever have been.  And to me that’s got to be counted as success!