Five Things I Learned This Week – You’re not always meant to see the bigger picture
Impromptu nights out are awesome
I used to think of it as ‘disorganised’ but now I like to think of life as ‘impromptu’. It makes it sound like I have more control than I sometimes do over the never-ending days of parenthood (and school holidays). Anyway I’m an impromptu person and sadly, most of my friends are not. (these friends remember to bake for the school bake sale, do not share 1 school swimming hat between 2 children and did not drop their son off with their Grandma with 2 coats but no trousers). Due to us all having complex personal lives and a variety of family set ups and high powered jobs, evenings together are often arranged well in advance (then cancelled then rescheduled).
On Friday I had just dropped the boys with their dad and was feeling a little blue – I miss them when they’re there. I went home wondering what my partner and I would do with the evening when one of my friends, who lives a couple of hours away posted on Facebook (what did we ever do without it?) that she was at the pub 4 MINUTES away from me. I swiftly left my partner to his own devices and headed out to the pub. What was even better was that via a friend of a friend, kids at the same school etc, my very best friend was there as part of the group. A fab night (and sore head) was had by all and it reminded me that whilst life can feel a mundane cycle of school runs, dropping kids with other parents, squeezing in work and chores (oh the endless cooking, cleaning, laundry cycle), it can also be spontaneous, fun and remind you that with the right tribe of people around you, it’s possible to achieve anything you want.
Sometimes life isn’t fair
One of my friends commented on my Facebook page that this parenting gig is hard and about the amount of times she wants to say ‘It’s not fair’. Couldn’t agree more. Parenting was hard when I was married, it’s just as hard as a single parent. There is no right answer/way etc, raising small people and trying to keep everyone happy is tough.
There are a lot of factors at play in our household and when decisions are made often one of us is left feeling that it’s unfair. This is made the more apparent when it’s a 4 year old screaming it 10cm from you face.
The truth is, you don’t have to be a parent to feel that life’s not going your way. There were many times in my pre-parenthood days where I felt that everything in the world was misaligned and I was suffering for it.
I don’t know why some days life feels cripplingly unfair and on others, not much has changed but everything feels a lot better. Maybe we have the tough times so we can really appreciate the good times. Or perhaps on the days that we feel better, we’ve had better sleep and everyone’s a bit kinder to each other.
Family comes first
This one seems really obvious doesn’t it? Or maybe it doesn’t. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 37 years it’s that everyone’s family structure is different and relationships with family members are often complex.
When I separated from my husband I went from us being a family of 4, to a family of 3. Life carried on well for a while then I met my partner and his lovely daughter and we’re now a family of 5. Being one of 5 children, I love that our family has grown and including my partner’s daughter’s pets, we now have 10 ‘souls’ (as they say in Titanic) in the house.
As great as everything is, there’s a lot of love, a lot of ‘he said, she said’ and a lot of animals to clean up after. All of us have different needs at different times and as parents and partners, it’s our job to meet those needs (or at least attempt to).
This week an old friend from my pre-partner days got in touch. We went for a drink and it was lovely to catch up. Following that I have had a lot of messages inviting me to events that just aren’t possible for me to attend because my family need me to be here and I need to be here with them. I’ve felt a little like I’m between a rock and a hard place trying to keep my friend happy and balance family life until I took my troubles to my partner, saying I didn’t know what to do. He asked what I actually wanted to do and the answer was so obvious:I want to be with my family. I love my friends but I love my family more.
You’re not always meant to see the bigger picture
We start up businesses after a lot of thought, what we want the business to be, how we’re going to get there and what success looks like to us. Those who have had some sort of business management training or have had experience in other, successful businesses, know that having a 1, 3 and 5 year plan helps keep us on track. Many people (including me) only reach the stage of starting up their own business when they’ve had a family and they have to include the needs of their children and/or partner alongside the needs of their business.
Needless to say, this is hard. We can have 2 pictures in our heads, one of what our successful business will be and one of what our family will be during these 1, 3 and 5 year milestones.
What if we’re not meant to see the bigger picture? Often the picture we have in our heads does not meet the reality. I know that in my work, I had an idea of what This Demanding Life would be and as much as I still have a lot of goals, the picture, alongside mine and my family’s needs has changed. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just different and if I had put all my energy and hopes into the original picture I had for both, my family and my working life, I would not feel as happy as I do with where everything is going right now. A year ago I couldn’t imagine the joy that having a partner and step-daughter would bring. At the same time I recognise if I had stuck with my original plan for work, I would be bored by now and looking to do what I’ve ended up, organically focusing on with work.
I’ve come to the conclusion that having work (and life) goals is a good thing but to not paint that picture too rigidly as you could miss a lot of good opportunities along the way.
Somedays you just need your sister
With 3 older sisters I’m lucky that there is always someone to chat to, to have fun with, to moan about life’s worries. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t always been the easiest relationship but what sibling can come out of childhood saying they never once argued with the other? One of my sisters is a sister and best friend combined in one handy package. We speak most days and she always makes me feel better. Today I was feeling totally overwhelmed with life. Everything was just too hard – too much responsibility, not enough money, not enough hours in the day, feeling crap about being on the hamster wheel of appointments for the kids, school runs, food shopping, household maintenance, you name it, I had put it in the basket and invited it to my pity party. I was just about to send a ‘woe is me’ email to my (long suffering) partner when my sister, with some sort of 6th sense, phoned to see if all was ok?
And just like that, it was. My sister was able to reason away my fears and help me find strategies for my worries and when she got off the phone life felt like a sunny, happy place again. I know I’m always saying how great my friends are (they are the best!) but I have the best sister in the world.