A Cinderella Story

New Year New You?

 It’s a lucrative business, this whole new-year-new-you tactic. Well played by the corporate masses, they seem to tap into our insecurities (with a tidy little profit for themselves) right around January the first. The clock strikes midnight on December 31st, and parallel to everyone’s favourite fairytale, the magic and merriment of Christmas, with all it’s comfy warmth, vanishes into the harsh reality of yet another cold, hard (and usually skint) January. Shops are mutated overnight from twinkly festive havens to crazed motivational life-centres. The aisles that were full of yuletide indulgences are now replaced with cardboard-tasting eat-this-for-ten-days-and-you’ll-look-like-Twiggy meal supplements. Books offer advice on improving every aspect of life; advancing your career, being a better parent, satisfying your man while also getting fitter (seriously-Google sexercise-on second thoughts, don’t)- everything you need to climb that bit higher and push that bit further along the proverbial ladder of success.

I take issue with this. Now, I fully recognise that my cynical attitude may be borne out of the sensibility that, 4 kids later, I no longer possess (or am ever likely to in this lifetime) the body or life I had when I was 18. I’m a bit dumpy, my boobs have been replaced by Chamonix’s finest, and I’m even starting to get a few *ahem* laughter lines. At this point, a disclaimer-if you’ve decided to make good life choices off your own back for the sake of the future, hats off to you. Really. And good luck with the cardboard-food. But here’s my dilemma. The whole new-year-new-you ideal is delivered by the loaded cannon of premise that WHO YOU ARE RIGHT NOW ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH. This is my issue. My mama bear comes out with a big scary growl if anyone undermines my kids. I’m right there, straightaway, ready to fight. It’s not that they’re perfect, none of us are, but at such a crucial point in their lives I want my input to shape their plasticine thinking into solid mindsets of good character. I want them to know their value, to walk tall, to speak kindly, to love justice and to be fearless in just being themselves, a trait that so many have seemingly lost. So if this is my dream for my kids, why would I put myself at the mercy of the how-to-do-January-marketing-manager-extraordinaire? A faceless suit in an office somewhere, interested solely in turning January into Sterling for the big guys and moving further up the career ladder.

This brings me to another point. Why are we so insecure in ourselves, so easily persuaded that we are just falling short of the perfect life? One dress size less, one salary band more, one bedroom extra in our house and THEN life’d be sweet. At this point I’d like to propose a theory. Stick with me. Imagine the scenario- you’re at a wedding and you’ve been plonked on a table of randoms. It would be awkwardly and obviously rude to ignore everyone else and talk exclusively to the one person on the table you know, so you do your bit for your mate who’s getting married and launch into small talk with the nearest and/or most attractive person on the table. ;) Name, mode of transport, weather, how you each know the happy couple and other such pleasantries are exchanged, and then comes the inevitable. Those four little words which burst into the conversation like the over wound Jack-in-the-Boxes in the (epically amazing) festive movie ‘Elf.’ Highly recommended by the way. The question? ‘What do you do?’ Now I have on occasion been tempted to be facetious and list off every single thing I actually do of a day (wake up, take a dump, feed the kids, brush my teeth-not necessarily in that order) but we all know this little question refers to our chosen career path. At this point in the proceedings I normally let them answer first, we have a lengthy conversation about the nitty gritty of their employment choice, and then I drop the clanger. For me, I’m a full time mum. I dislike the label ‘housewife’ because this conjures up images of the incredibly sexist 1950’s textbook ‘The Good Housewife,’ instructing readers on such important matters as being a subservient (and beautiful) slave to her husband’s every whim. No, housewife is definitely not my style. Sorry S. So I am a self confessed, self labelled full time mum. Well, for most people, this is either a dead set way to kill conversation (they let out a little moan of pity whilst cocking their head to one side, blurting out a string of random child related words while attempting to make desperate eye contact with the next person on the table who probably has a proper job to talk about) or they bypass what you’ve said completely and ask what you USED to do when you did have a job.

Here is my theory. What we do and who we are have become unhealthily compounded into this mess of identity, so much so that we can’t explain who we are without reverting, as proven in the above scenario, to what we do. I love being a mum, my kids are (mostly) fantastic and I enjoy the challenge of bringing up and eventually flinging out into the world 4 small people- watch out universe when that day comes. But I have been learning over the past few years that what we do does not define who we are.

I remember back to the days when I only had D; we rocked the toddler group scene, met up with other mums and babies for coffee and had lengthy conversations about whose child was meeting which milestones first. The competition was tough, and I often found myself lowering the tone and offering a how-much-has-your-baby-vomited/mine-could-crap-for-Britain type comment just to shift the focus off the academic achievement of these poor babygro’d small people and their crazy competitive parents.
Since having B however, the correlation between who you are and what you do has become wider than ever. My beautiful boy has yet to meet so many of his milestones. At 5 and a half he has yet to say his first word, he’s still in nappies, he has no idea about danger, he can’t read or write, and he still needs help to feed himself. In other words, he is as dependent on us as a brand new screamy pink and screwed up newborn. He has ‘done’ nothing in terms of achievement comparatively to most other 5 year olds. But this does not define who he is, in the same way there is so much more to me than being a mum. He’s cheeky, fun, stubborn, crazy and gorgeous, and we are learning to love him, and all our other kids, purely for who they are.

Be defined by who you are and who you were made to be, and see that same in others. Remember that WHO YOU ARE RIGHT NOW IS GOOD ENOUGH.

 And for those of you who do decide on the rabbit-food-detox-diet-life-swap, I wish you all the luck in the world- you’re going to need it. At least until the tempting glass slipper of next Christmas rolls around again.



Comments

  1. Excellent ... thanks

    Sarah x (ali cox's sis)

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  2. Thank you lucy that was amazing, and i learnt a lot of new words reading this that will help me with my english exam next week. Love from Tors xxxx

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  3. Keep sharing the love, I really appreciate your comments :)

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  4. Hey Luce I love you a little more with each one of these posts :-) you are striking many a chord! Keep them coming! Xx

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