I see people around town; mothers from school whom I haven’t set eyes on since we broke up and they say they’ve had ‘the most amazing summer.’ My mind whirls back, trying to place the most amazing summer I have had. I struggle. Summers have been pretty good on occasion, but rarely do I use a word like ‘amazing’ to describe an entire season. I respond; ‘it’s been a funny old summer.’ That’s as close to the truth as I can get. Emergency dental surgery, one holiday laced with noro-virus, house move upon house move, more close-quartered family time than we know what to do with. Various logistical challenges. An impending sense of anxiety as September looms with my new life direction – a Masters degree. Not enough writing. A teenager and a ten year old. And did I mention the house moves?!
As an old, favourite colleague of mine once commented, when he admitted he had read my blog: ‘it doesn’t seem to be written with mass consumption in mind’. I suspect he was trying to match the ‘me’ he knew of the corporate world (high heels and the career-limiting but interesting questions I posed to company executives when they visited) to the deeply personal summaries I post here. And let me just say that what I post here is a watered down version of what is really going on in my head. I have no explanation. The blog remains a secret to most who know me; I don’t advertise it. I do get occasional pangs when I meet, say, a new, cool mother at school, and I imagine her scrolling through my ramblings and wondering: ‘who IS this strange woman?’. I imagine my daughter’s friends idly stalking my posts – in much the same way as they swipe through Instagram feeds and think that I am not like other mothers.
I write here according to my mood. And I am coming to the conclusion that my life is governed by my moods; completely and utterly. Never were words more lost on me than; ‘snap out of it.’ Impossible. Incapable of that. But I do listen and when the darker moods pass I go back and analyse them and see that everyone around me was saying snap out of it, unfailingly. That is all anyone knows to say. Anecdotally there is a period of quiet allowed (even for the gross, sad, dreadful things in life like betrayal or grief) but then the human spirit is expecting that we move on.
I am dubious about those who seem to have no down moods. I spoke once with a counsellor who told me that life is like radio waves; there is static and it’s wavy. No one has a straight line.
But I am lucky that any dark mood passes and I regard life with enthusiasm and interest again. I live everything in a short-term fashion; rarely do I plan for anything more than six month’s ahead, but there is generally a keenness in me to do the next thing.
There is much written at the moment about how we should understand low mood better and when it is prolonged and awful it gets a label like ‘depression’ that we should see it as a disease; an affliction that the sufferer can (or can’t) be cured of. I don’t know about that (thankfully); all I know is that my biggest life lesson right now is that time passes and I feel different. The mood changes. And most often for the good. Happiness prevails.
From writing this blog I have made a study of being grateful for the good in life. How many blogs do I read that revere the little things, the small things, the everyday ordinary-ness that is life?! And how, if we look closely enough at what we have, we can dampen down all doubting thoughts till there is only happiness and light. Being grateful is great. But…what I notice is that sometimes it becomes such an effort to be grateful that it gets old. Like anything else, monotony breeds discontent.
I like to look at it in this way. Gratefulness should be a habit. Getting on with things should be a habit. Seeing the good. Taking exercise often, keeping active. Seeing friends should be a habit. Laughing. Laughing at oneself. Making a delicious meal with fresh ingredients and knowing it is good for you. Keeping busy. Embracing the quiet when it comes. Not thinking too much. Not fretting about the future. Having faith. All these things should be habits. And if I cultivate them enough they may become second nature.
We are returning to old habits tomorrow and going back to Portugal, where we have been so many times before. So lucky to have a bolt hole. There I go with gratefulness again 😉 it’s the way forward.
I am in pensive mood – despite my imminent exit from the corporate world, longed for and life-appropriate, I still get moments of minor freak-out when I think: ‘…whaaat!! what am I doing??‘ I recognise this existential angst and know it will pass, but nevertheless it has the capacity to derail my thoughts, provoke a deep breath, even a little tear when I contemplate walking away. I am not that good at walking away – you might say I am a keeper. Same town, same childhood sweetheart, same hairdo. I stick at things. But I know with this, once a few weeks pass, I will come out the other side and wonder what all the hesitation was about.
|via patterson maker|
Most of all I am sure, with a wry and knowing nod, that every time I read an article about working mothers – either for or against – I will empathise. For so many years I fought that cause, no matter what, and now I look back and wonder why was I fighting so hard? A bit like a marriage that isn’t going to last the distance; should it really be that hard? There are many reasons why this is right for me now, but I hope that the lesson from it all will be that I work out when to quit something that has become too hard. Not because I am failing, but because there are always choices.
This warm weather gives a glimpse of what life would be like in a proper, warm country. The scope it gives to be outside and to live life differently amazes me. So many options when there is sun; the extent of the British deprivation of it now becomes clear! I am lured by the summer sales – this whiff of balmy weather makes me rush for a whole other wardrobe of rarely worn items. Those that lurk at the back of the wardrobe and only get outings when on holiday. I have to exercise some restraint from buying more as deep down I know: it may not last!
I had this strange sensation when I was away that I wanted to write, but had promised myself I wouldn’t as it was designed to be time away from everything normal. I noticed it has become ‘normal‘ to write now, which is notable, all things considered. In some ways I spent my time away thinking, but then in other ways I realised I made a concerted effort to think of nothing whatsoever.
I said there were some things afoot in our family. When we were away my husband got a job offer; the kind that has life-changing implications for us, so we spent days considering, pondering, reasoning, punctuated by swims in the pool and beach visits. I find sand between your toes helps in any decision-making process…
|the view from the end of my sun lounger…|
Meanwhile on other matters:
Every second morning I ran. Early, first thing, before the heat really took hold, I got up and went running, on a deserted farm track that hugged the golf course near where we stayed. Noticing olive, fig and citrus trees as I ran. Sometimes accompanied by stray Portuguese dogs (that made me run that little bit faster; fight or flight? Flight for me, all the way). So my husband and I ran alternate days; initially I beat his time running the same track, eventually he beat my time. I figured unfair: he has shorter legs! On those mornings when I returned and then swam in the pool, before everyone was up, I had moments of happiness that simply must be down to those exercise endorphins. I am not evangelical about many things but I have to say; running is the answer. It just makes you feel so good after. Not often during; but after.
The Boos were great fun. They excelled at late, balmy nights, ‘midnight’ swims, beach volley-ball at dusk, eclectic dinner menus (Piri-piri anyone?) and were altogether fantastic company. I realised, again and afresh, that babies grow into children who become the best people to chill with in my world. So many shared looks between their Daddy and I as we thought to ourselves ‘we made these cool people!’
Tropical warm climates are happy-making. No question. To wake to sunshine every day is a gift and I wonder now, as I come home to torrential rain and cloud – why do we live here? England is beautiful but really, would it hurt to be sunny just a little bit more often?
We lived like sloths. Well more importantly, I did. No cleaning, no laundry, no having to be anywhere at any time and I wondered – how can I hold on to this feeling of freedom? Normally, I am a slave to housework. My ‘part time’ job takes up too much of my time. The tyranny of the school run effects every day of life in term-time. What to do? How to maintain the holiday vibe? Suggestions on a postcard please…
I marvelled daily on how my girl, in particular, is growing up. Is that a nine year old thing? This child, who this summer learned to do backwards dives, can use her body in a way that I can only faintly recall when I was that age. She is just so clever and beautiful. A marvel indeed to me.
Is it wrong that I was back home for no more than a few hours before I started scanning the web for the next holiday? Live for holidays or live for life? Hmmm….
Back to the decision-making process; we mused the life-changes, we looked at every angle, and we decided yep let’s go for it. That was in the summer sun of Portugal.
Now we are home, events are actually unfolding in ways that we didn’t anticipate, so I am not sure whether it’s a stay or go situation afterall as the present employer has a card to play…will keep you posted.
So, now…what’s been happening with you?!