Last Thursday I wrote a letter to my family as a form of catharsis, a way to vent, a chance to get some stuff out of my head and onto paper. I have been lucky enough to have received several offerings of support as a result of this, some from unexpected quarters. I know that there are people I can turn to, but of course everyone has their own lives and finding time to listen isn't always easy. What I really need is an hour off every now and again, not an hour to crack on and do some work, or attend to some much-needed housework, but an hour for me to rest and process it all. Yet I loathe that 'me time' concept, almost as much as I detest this lauded idea of 'couple time' or date nights. And don't even get me started on the 'quality time' we should all be enjoying with one another.
Can you imagine a Victorian factory worker espousing the need for some 'me time'? A cave dweller, exhausted after a day defending her kin from predators, whilst simultaneously honing her gathering skills, turning to her blood-spattered hunter husband to say 'we must have a date night tonight, darling'. Preposterous. In fact, do we need to refer to history? Would a couple in an Amazonian tribe, a mother in war-torn Ukraine, a refugee, be contemplating these as options for using their time? Of course they wouldn't. They crack on with life, doing what needs to be done, hoping to just get through another day.
That my current circumstances, with a safe, comfortable, warm home; an income level unimaginable to a large portion of the world (though considered pitiful in the West); and three beautiful babies many would give their right arm for, are a problem is, quite frankly, laughable. Of course we can't help how we feel and last week, in the midst of all sorts of problems and worries, not to mention the 'flu, that was how I felt. But we really are talking first world problems here, aren't we?! Thank you for the advice I was sent, and the links people e-mailed over, but if I read another article or hear another pompous pundit tell me that the cure to whatever ill is for someone to have more 'me time' or arrange date nights or whatever, I may self-destruct!
In actual fact, with some perspective, it's not difficult to see the many positives in our current life. We are not as some have said 'lucky' to be in the position we're in. Rather we have carefully chosen, with much consideration to all the options, to both work part-time. By working the equivalent of one set of full-time hours a week between us we get what we most want: to spend a large proportion of our 168 hours with our children. Yes it means money is tight; yes, it means cramming into a tiny, old car; yes it currently means no garden, but actually we have a home full of love, full of the girls' things, and full of everything we want and need. It might not be everyone's idea of a great way to live, and if anyone else looks down their nose they may find my pacifist fist at the end of it. But there's food on the table, a beach to explore, petrol for field trips and fun days out, holidays booked, and plenty of time to do it all.
We have made the AP choices we've made because they were right for us and our family. We believe it is vital for young children to have someone at home with them and not to be sent to daycare; we believe full-term breastfeeding is the best thing for babies and children; we believe the education system is fundamentally flawed and fails, or damages, most children it churns out; we believe children learn best when they pursue their own interests, with quiet support from caring adults; we believe children should not sleep alone unless they choose to; we believe that the risks of putting chemicals and poisons into our bodies far outweigh the supposed benefits of vaccinations and other conventional medicines; we do not believe that mobile phones, video games and other 'essentials' are in any way essential to either happiness or wellbeing, in fact they are usually the opposite. It might not be what you believe, it might not be what them next door believe, it might not be what anyone else believes, but those are our beliefs and choices, and they're pretty damn good as far as we're concerned.
Does that stop me sometimes questioning and wondering whether we are doing the right thing? Of course not. In fact, wouldn't it be more disturbing if I didn't wonder and worry and question? I think all of us who go against the norm question ourselves from time to time, perhaps more than those who don't. The truth is, I find it more disturbing that the majority accept the norm, toe the societal line, and mostly never question their actions. As you saw last week, I do worry and question and query, but I haven't yet concluded that we are wrong. As excluded as our choices can make us, as criticised as we can be, we will still, always, do what we think is fundamentally right for us and our children.*
In some ways last week's shouting and doubting and ranting was down to too much time on our hands too. Usually life is too full and busy for such worries to manifest so strongly. But several days of not being able to go out, of having Lara (and the SPD) caged in four walls, and it was a hotbed of trauma and angst here! We are still going through some re-evaluations of life, we have more to decide, more to achieve. That's hard work, but an on-going process which means we will come out the other side in a better place. Could be a rough ride though! Buckle up.
* One thing that did amaze me last week was that some people managed to make my upset last week about them, or used it as a way in to try to criticise us or make us change our choices. A - MAZE - ING!