I’ve been thinking. I see a change in what I write here, I know that is because I am distracted toiling on the book but also…it’s something else. Many blogs, mine included, concentrate on daily life, the comings and goings of family and associated preoccupations. Over time this has been regular fodder and if I look back I see the detail I shared about my kids and their lives. So last week, my daughter turned 15 and this felt like it amplified the feeling I have had for a while, which is that it is not fair to share stuff about her here. It’s not my place to. This is interesting as clearly there are many, many ‘mummy bloggers’ who do just this and to some degree we are shown the intimacies of a child’s life to the point of extremes. I do wonder what will happen when these children grow up and learn that their lives were documented to the world and kinda without their consent?! This has started to play on my mind as although I have always written about motherhood and my perception of it, I have tried not to plunder what my children are feeling about things; if they want to do that they can write a blog themselves.
I think parents live in and consume the online world in the same way as our kids do and whilst many lecture on the risks of this environment, we have to be mindful too of the way we use/abuse it. So in short, this has been in my thoughts. There’s lots I could write about the joys and challenges of parenting a teenage daughter and near-teenage son and I will continue to make comments on this whole journey, but I shall remain reticent about what I share!
Fifteen years is fifteen years – no matter how many times I try to reconcile that I have a fifteen year old daughter, it still sounds nuts to me. My husband and I looked at each other wryly on her birthday as if to say ‘wtf? how did that happen?!!’ Like everything in parenthood, it’s bittersweet. I feel acutely that we enter a different phase now; our children are 11 and 15 and I think the difference comes from the fact that they are so aware. Their initial experience of life is pretty much formed, I mean I can recall exactly what I did and felt like at 11 and 15; I had arrived. To think that they have arrived is a sobering concept! But equally it feels amazing and they are the best company ever. Although they may drive me to distraction, both particularly trying in their ways, I love spending time with them. I am the lioness.
I am trying not to let this phase go to my head though, whilst I feel old and wise, I am not in many ways. I still consider myself a young mother (I had my daughter when I was in my mid twenties) and I have contemporaries now who are still having babies at 42, a thought which terrifies me!
I see that I have been self-editing for a long time, not here necessarily, where I am remarkably honest considering the unknown audience, but in my real life. Writing the book has been a fascinating exercise in getting to the bottom of how I feel about things. It is so cathartic and has come out so differently to what I imagined. But I see a theme; I have been tempering myself all along. Trying to fit in, wondering about life choices, really analysing what the decisions of the last few years really meant.
By this I mean, why I gave up my job. Because I couldn’t manage it all anymore and my body was telling me in no uncertain terms to stop. I didn’t want to be that woman. Why we spent over two years and all our money renovating our house. Because it was a labour of love. Why I am quite as involved in my children’s lives? Because having been that ‘other’ woman, the one who worked and felt guilty and tired all the time, I had some making up to do. Why our weekends completely revolve around sport. Because I see now that sport and being in a team and making a commitment and using your body are all so so crucial to children, it has come to define what we are all about as a family. Why I wear variations of the same mother wardrobe every day and then wonder why I get so bored? Because I thought if I wore palm tree prints and had flamingoes on my shoes that I might get judged. Why I come away from coffee mornings and think: am I the only one who has an opinion? Because no one is saying what they really think. It’s a veneer.
So I make these evaluations and I’ve written a book that encompasses many of these themes and I am just going to sit with it for a while. See how it settles.
And wear my palm tree prints and be happy.