Telling It

Here is the question.

How do you achieve balance in a relationship without one person turning to say, “It’s fine. Go ahead. My dreams and goals can be on the backburner for now. I CAN WAIT.”

There are times when I wish it could be so simple. That in a wonderful old-fashioned way it was possible to say, ” The ultimate dream is our happy family. Β As long as we have enough to get by on, do we really care how we work out the logistics?”

And even if both involved parties agree upon the final destination of A Happy And Fulfilled Family Life , how do you get to the finish line together without one feeling shortchanged? Is it a measure of love you really need or is it huge dollops of sacrifice and forbearance?

How much love would it take to make you give up your dreams? Given that there were concrete dreams beyond marriage to begin with?

I am an awful fit for traditional notions of marriage. I don’t really possess the sort of soft, supportive values it seems to require. (Note how I make marriage sound like a Victoria’s Secret bra)

Too opinionated, too unwilling to bow or bend, too unwilling to give unless I can take as freely, too exacting and too demanding. I am passionate about the things that matter to me, the very things that contribute to my emotional and intellectual welfare. I am singleminded and ruthless when passion has a plan.

I look at successful couples with children and think, “Whats your secret? Yeah, the one you aren’t bottling and selling?”

Or are they also squabbling over who was supposed to take the trash out last night? And I bathed the kids yesterday, so its your turn SO THERE. Maybe they are.

My life would be immeasurably simpler if I could lean back (I can never lean back. I always lean in) and say, “Honey, go make your millions. Follow your dreams and I’ll be around.”

Maybe I have seen too many awful relationships where the common quotient seems to be an unspoken, seething resentment. An unsavoury Hillary Swank – Chad Lowe prototype where the quietly resentful “I sacrificed and contributed to your success” is cut with a crass “Yeah, like you were going to run for President anyway.”

Maybe I have seen far too many men and women of my age, of my generation, give up. Whether they chose to work or stay at home, WORKING – duh – they have somehow lost the sparkle in their eyes. Maybe it was their inability to negotiate any real power in their relationships. Maybe they believe that this is as good as it gets?

(Why is it always women rather than men that will settle for a confinement, a regulation of themselves?)

Call me Alpha Female. Call me a bitch. But I won’t do Plus One. Or Mrs.

I can’t be the add on wife at an expat club, drinking martinis and sporadically screwing the tennis instructor. Oh…WAIT A MINUTE NOW:-)

Its not about Stay At Home or Out At Work. Its not about women’s rights. All of this applies equally to men.

For a minute, lets talk about how an appetite for life can be too large to be contained. How the need for contact, stimulation and social engagement can drain and rejuvenate you simultaneously. How you can wake on somedays popping with energy and great ideas and the possibility of actualisation. How swiftly you will be crushed by depression when you feel you are treading water and going nowhere. How the sense of hopelessness can feed the dark spaces of your mind and just when you think you are NEVER getting out of bed..

You do. And if you’re lucky, you might just find a spark that never died out; that won’t allow you to give up.

My only real promise to myself was to always feed that spark Β – and to remember that what a lot of people call selfishness is also self-love.

I have made my peace with the fact that compromise will always be an uncomfortable word for me. An uneasy fit if you will.

I want to continue taking chunky bites of life around me and wiping the zest of my chin.

I want to stay the young girl who was always afraid of dying young, who felt like she had to take it all in, make sense of it all in some way before she was hit by a bus. It petrifies me to let go of the urgency, to let myself be waylaid into a “ach..later” mode of thinking, where tommorow never comes.

I really want to say that mothering is the most fulfilling thing in my life, and at times, sure. It fulfils me to the point of bovine floatation.

Then there are times when it does nothing of the sort and I pick up socks and wonder what the hell happened to the Me I Knew.

Unalloyed blessing, it ain’t.

And maybe its an odd thing to say, but I want to pass on a greed for life to my children. Not sacrifice, not compromise, not apathy in large doses. Not a notion of love or devotion which always sees their needs, their energy de-prioritized.

I want them to grab their happiness with both bare hands, ignoring that it will be difficult at times, ignoring that it might be to the detriment of all that is traditional and accepted, cherished and convenient. Ignoring that it might make the significant other in their life a bit cranky for a while.

I want them to realise sooner rather than later that they will only care about truly making someone else happy when they are reasonably fulfilled themselves.

As for the balance issue – could I be happy with a man who wasn’t comfortable with my taking the wheel? Letting me be on top? Come on, I’m letting you pick the smutty metaphor here.

Absolutely no damn way.

Who will big enough to make room when there are many ambitions and plans jostling for space with family life? I can’t say just yet.

Having woven dreams for a decade now, we know how to do it without dropping a stitch. The challenge is really to keep wanting the same design, to be happy with our creation. I’m leaving that to time, talking and a belief that there is way without losing ourselves somewhere.

In the meanwhile, if someone is selling that secret recipe, I’m buying.

There’s no time to lose, I heard her say
Catch your dreams before they slip away
Dying all the time
Lose your dreams
And you may lose your mind.
Ain’t life unkind?

– Ruby Tuesday, Rolling Stones.

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68 Comments

Filed under family, Life

68 responses to “Telling It

  1. Anjali

    What a post! I could relate with it so much, and I am not a mom πŸ™‚

    Sometimes, we do get tired of our own dreams, or the fight to fulfill them. Don’t we? There is a line in a Hindi song, that means, “Never does anyone get the whole world.” You’d be very near, I think, with the kind of brimming energy you have for yourself and life. If you find the way that saves us from losing ourselves, let me know πŸ™‚

    • Mom Gone Mad

      Ach. The brimming energy comes and goes. And if I ever figure it out, I’ll write a book on it. Why, I’ll sponsor a billboard!;-)

  2. Well, it could have been me writing this post!!!

    I feel exactly like you do…alpha female, bitch..whatever, but this is me!

    If you find the recipe, pass it on will ya??

    • Mom Gone Mad

      Hey Chandni..Glad you relate. Thats not something i get a lot when I bring this up;-)

      And you’re on!

      • I knowwwww

        and only recently, the boss was telling me the same thing..people like “us” will always find it more difficult in day to day life because most people just don’t get it. Its going to be a constant battle….and I told her I don’t know any other way to live life. And she simply replied “exactly”.

        πŸ™‚ more power to us I say!

        • Mom Gone Mad

          I’m not sure it needs to be a constant battle unless the significant other(s) in your life are not supportive – which is not your case, right? Think its more about not letting mental barriers and self-doubt get in the way.

          I’m frikking sick of watching Oprah and getting bleary-eyed at the inspiring stories. I am jsut going to BE that person. For myself and everyone I care about.

  3. Maybe to accept that each day is different, and it’s a different you waking up and facing each day?
    Though I may look placid, I know that the original me lurks not too far beneath:)

    • Mom Gone Mad

      Wise Dipali:-)

      And seriously, people take you for placid? Not that we’ve met, but I wouldn’t have guessed that!

  4. Deepa

    Why is sacrifice and compromise such a bad word if it comes from a place of love? Not all the time perhaps but when such “making-do” is sorely needed by people you cherish and promised to love always.
    Just asking because I’m notorious in my family for being a selfish bitch but have of recent begun wondering if I couldn’t be a little happier and at peace if I gave in a little now and then. Whaddaya say?

    • Mom Gone Mad

      Deepa, Its not the occasional adjustment and giving in that I am talking about here. Its more the tendency to always be the follower – to have the premises set for you.To give up on things you dream of /dreamt about to be in a relationship or keep the peace.

      When you really love someone, its a given that you’ll make allowances – and often at that. When its almost expected, its time to question how much they actually love you, I think.

  5. You sound like a do-er, a dreamer. So go and do it and live your dreams. I am sure your family will love you for it.

    • Mom Gone Mad

      Mummyjaan, I’m a dreamer who is slowly, painfully learning to be a do-er. To not push away great opportunities because I am afraid of how everything will turn out.

      As for the family loving me, well – the husband most assuredly will and he is maybe the biggest push factor in my life. The kids? It might take them a while to understand and appreciate I think, if I am not around as much.

  6. Shalini, I could relate to this so much….I think the resentment is because you do not give up your dreams consciously and willingly. It is always imposed on you, not directly, but in a rather roundabout way, so that when you do turn back and lash out, no one is to blame…”you gave up your dreams yourself, you could have done what you wanted, no one stopped you”. Somewhere you do feel something is wrong, and you go through life wondering what you could have done…I agree with you about the self-love. One has to love oneself before you can love others, never mind if the world sees it as selfishness.

    • Mom Gone Mad

      Spot on. Couldn’t have said it better. I alsobelieve that these things can happen in a very roundabout way. Its not always meticulously planned is it? Days fly by and WHAM! – you are in a place that is beyond recognition.

      It is so convenient to hide behind children. Convenient – because its also so rewarding – and also a slippery slope in other ways.

      Balance is making me go grrr:-)

      BTW – loved your last post. Will go over and say it in the right space;-)

  7. lostonthestreet

    “Why is it always women rather than men that will settle for a confinement, a regulation of themselves”
    A similar post has been lying as draft for ages in my blog. Just have not had the guts to publish.
    The things I get to hear from close friends and relatives because I am not ready to marry – are dialogues that make ekta kapoor serials ..Sigh!!

    • Mom Gone Mad

      Hang in there, LOTS! They will eventually shut up – or you’ll conveniently stop hearing them:-D

      Why no guts to publish? Trolls out there?

  8. Amma

    You follow your dreams and reach there my girl. It is never going to be an easy path. But hang on there. You have my support all the way. You can always find hundred and one excuses for giving in but it is always to appease your conscience. In later years , you always keep wondering how life would have been if you had followed your dreams. But then sometimes even our dreams are restricted due to circumstances and we choose to follow the path of least resistance.You are in a way selling your dreams for an easy life because you have to tread a rough path or rather ride an emotional roller coaster to reach your goals.

  9. Amen. Amen and amen. I have stuggled with this every single time. I have seen friends struggle wih it. After a point one wonders whether its not easier to just give and take the path of least resistence. Its so much easier being a martini swigging wife isntit then the woman who is trying to have a sense of self?
    I see women who have so effortlessly transitioned into this stepword wife stereotypes – so happily being mrs so and so, spending mr so and sos money, content to be the plus one and there are times when I envy them so much because they dont seem to deal with the constant guilt and constant resenment or constant self doubt.
    had written a post on a similiar topic sometime back which i shall pimp ( pls xcuse!) http://solitarycynic.blogspot.com/2008/06/shadow-life.html

    • Mom Gone Mad

      Thanks for linking up to your post Cyn! I think you put it better than me.

      My biggest issue with the Stepford Wife stereotype is that I also see the other side to these women in private and its not always pretty. Beyond the facade, there is nothing effortless about it. If they have been young women raised to have a life and a mind of their own, you can be assured that following someone will not come easy.

  10. I have read this post over and over again the past couple of days. It called out to me cos I am in a rut, wondering what happened to the Me I Knew. sigh.

  11. you know i read your post a few times and i am still torn about it. i think compromises are a part of life and are necessary sometimes – its ok to put some of your dreams on hold for a bigger/better cause as long as you do not lose sight of them. there are things i want to accomplish but cannot for whatever reasons, but i still think i am leading a meaningful life because i have found other things that have made it so….

    • Mom Gone Mad

      Sukanya, If you have found something meaningful in your life, then power to you. Regardless of what anyone else thinks, that is what you need to hold onto.

      I don’t think that there is any way for any ambitious person to not compromise especially when kids come into the picture. Luckily they are often so cute and they capture you so totally that you are spared seeing it that way.

      And I want to make it clear that I’m not just talking paid work here. You can have dreams and goals that don’t necessarily involve getting paid money. Most of the most awesome “dreams coming to fruition” I have witnessed have had nothing to do with money.

      I have waited. And in all likelihood I will wait longer too. But I will refuse to lose sight and forget myself in the bargain. I will also stubbornly refuse to live through my children in the future:-)

      • please do not think that I am diagreeing with you… u r right, one shouldnt lose sight of his dreams and goals.
        i havent either but what i meant was that i have found and accomplished other equally meaningful things, not necessarily goals and dreams i had planned on earlier ( for instance, learning the guitar, this wasnt one of my dreams but I am now and i am loving it)….and as you can see i didnt mean dreams involving money as well….paid work, that frankly is the least of my priorities. there is often a negative connotation added to the word compromise…to me compromising is being flexible and is about making the most of what you have.

        • sorry, i hit the submit button too quickly..
          i sincerely wish you the best and i hope you are able to fulfill every one of your goals and aspirations..

  12. Pingback: Roshni: Telling It Β« On a Wing and a Prayer

  13. i am not wondering where the me I knew is gone because this is the new me. the me i know is evolving and right now she loves being a mom primarily. i’d be a prety sad specimen if i were still the me I knew 10 years ago and had not grown, right?

    πŸ™‚

    • ys

      Perfect, MM πŸ™‚

    • Mom Gone Mad

      MM, The 20 year old I was was a pretty confused and miserable specimen. I was one of those people who couldn’t WAIT to be 30 because I loved how much more sorted life felt, how much more accepting I was of myself and others, how much clearer I was about what I wanted to do.

      But the 20 year old I was also had a lot of fire in her belly and a resolve to change the world:-) And however much I love my family, my children, there are days professional work and domestic work leave me numbed to the bone. There are days when I can barely feel – thats how tired I am. I won’t lie and say I love those days. Thats not the same thing as not loving being a mother.

      BUT -also importantly – reading you the past few years, I feel like you are one of those people who had this plan – a family and kids. You are a born mother hen and I love that you seem to embrace this full on. You don’t hide that this family and this life of love was your dream. This is a part of the uncompromising you. If you felt unprepared for this is, I doubt you would feel the same way.

      I, sweetheart, have never been a clucky one. I knew this would take some getting used to, self-absorbed as I can be:-/

      I never oohed over other children. I barely looked. I told that Viking upfront when we met that I was not planning children and that if that was non-negotiable for him, then this was the wrong tree. I never really planned on having a family – until the urge sorta overtook me πŸ™‚

      And he turned out so cute that another one came along.

      Motherhood is my acquired skill. Its my adopted natural state:-) I accept that this has no bearing on how I love my children or how much. Its just the kind of mother I am, the only mother I know how to be and a pretty cool place to be in.

      I am the kind of mother who likes to travel away from her kids for fairly long periods, who loves her time to herself, to her pursuits and her friends. The children are such a huge part of my life that I also need to keep a part sacred and separate. That space is my mirror and my oxygen bubble. So sure, motherhood has been a huge evolution, but I also need this space for evolution – and to connect the dots:-)

      • The last paragraph has said so beautifully what I have always felt but could never put into words. Enjoying such a sojourn now:-)
        But seriously, why is it that we are made to feel guilty when we enjoy the other part ofour life so much?
        It is a never ending circle, if you find work interesting, you are made to feel that your home is getting neglected, and when we start concentrating on the family, the same people come back and harp on how we are wasting our education, capabilities etc., etc,
        I went through all this and finally decided to be at peace with myselfand the rest (including other half) be damned. And trust me, it has turned out to be the best for everyone.

      • okay let me put it this way. whether you dreamed of it or not, you do LOVE being a mother. And although I wanted to be one, I had no idea what it entailed. When I was pregnant and the boss asked me what childcare plans I had, I seriously asked her if I could bring the baby to work and put it in the drawer. yeah laugh it up!

        my point is simply this – that the YOU is not lost. this IS part of you. and i guess that is what you need to make your peace with. our lives are never again going to be separate from the kids. there will always be threads that intertwine and we’ve got to find our new identities without feeling as though we’ve lost ourselves. did i make sense?

  14. maidinmalaysia

    i read it as ‘apathy in large “dosas” — and was quite puzzled.

    … what is this trip to India doing to me?

  15. Sue

    It’s been easier chez nous ever since I figured out I’d be happier freelancing and doing the odd full-time project while Vicky’s career got first priority because mine will never pay like his can.

    Now it’s just a matter of working out a way to quit and finding ourself a larger flat before I do!

    *goes off humming, “Who could put a name on you…”*

    • Mom Gone Mad

      Sue, that flexibility sounds great! There is no way I can match the Viking’s pay either – evil Oil does good:-) How much a given job earns sort of becomes the wrong priority by which to judge which job is more important methinks:-)

      Mine is plenty important to me (and I wouldn’t be doing it otherwise) and I won’t be trumped by default just because he earns more:-) Luckily so far, both our jobs have given us amazing flexibility, but if the dude takes up a certain kind of job, we will roll in money but my working life will be pretty much over. I wish I could say I was ready for that, but I ain’t:-/

      Given how much I LOVE the good life and the kind of credit card skidmarks I can produce, why is this even a problem??

      My Diva alter-ego just said, “DUDE, you have NO problems here”:-)

  16. Hey!
    What a fantastic post! I could hear myself say, “I agree so many time.”
    There are a couple of things I disagree with but that could be because I’ve outgrown that state of mind.
    And the one thing that I chew ponderously over many times is that I want to pass on all this crackle and pop to my kids and genetically I am sure some of it will pass on because the husband too is a firebrand. But what if growing up with two firebrands, both my kids decide to mellow out? What if they become regular and accept the every day? I don’t think that will happen, but it could very well may.

    • Mom Gone Mad

      Well hey there RQ!

      I don’t think you need to be a firebrand to be passionately involved with life. The Other Half in this partnership is ME-LLLOOOOWW.. yeah that much. But he’s there with both feet in and believes in squeezing out every last drop.

      And hell – we’re regular:-) Waay regular. I think my apprecation for everything regular and A4 in my life increases manifold when I don’t feel like I am giving up my aspirations – aside from my family.

  17. And by the way, all you mums are inspiring me to start my own mummy blog, something i’ve resisted for the longest time.

    • Mom Gone Mad

      Err. is that what this is? A mommy blog?:-)

      My tombstone will read: “Ambivalence did her in”:-)

      • okay with a moniker like MOM gone mad, you cant wonder whether this is a mommy blog or not. i’m stuck being a mad momma on a mommy blog, without even trying. and i can bet you i have as many posts on non baby issues!

      • You bet it is girl. Like MM says, Mom Gone Mad is enough to brand you forever :p.
        I don’t know if regular was the right word you know? I meant what if they were content with following the flock while with their thought? What if they were content think linear and not find creative solutions to life. What if they were happy not reaching? What if they were happy not falling? Do you know what I mean?

  18. Orange Jammies

    Written for me, that was. In fact, I’m amazed it wasn’t *by* me. Save the motherhood bit, of course.
    My take is that we don’t need to believe there are pre-set notions about what makes a marriage work. Feel free to tear down the framework and build your own, ground up. Agreed, we only had this one standard model to fall back on all these years, no other examples to really live by, but now we know better. We can negotiate our own lives and make choices more in sync with our needs. We’re lucky because we realize this. Not having a roadmap may make it difficult, but it sure isn’t impossible.

  19. i think at the end of the day if you know you have led a happy life then the choices you made were correct.

    one might not have done everything they thought they wanted to, but some other priorities might have found their way and that may not have been a bad thing!

    in our case my job pays 1/4th of Hub’s which is almost nothing and yet i have never seen him giving it any less importance or belittling my effort.

    i guess, good spouses defi make it easier in married plus kids situation.

    and yes, someday I hope to learn to say no effectively without feeling like a bitch! πŸ™‚

    cheers!

  20. R

    Delurking to comment, for the first time. I am not married, but the first part may as well have been me, writing it! I broke up with who I though was The Guy, cos after 5 yrs together, I already began to feel that unspoken, seething resentment. At all the compromises that had been assumed, I would make.

    ‘How much love would it take to make you give up your dreams?’ – Well, a hell lot more than I thought!

    But then, like someone else pointed out, I am also constantly evolving as a person, so I wonder if somewhere, as an older, mature-r person, I might make the same choices I refuse to, right now. Would I then regret what I now lost? Or is it only about a daily affirmation of, and to myself, of feeling that spark, one day at a time?

    Your line on finding someone to weave dreams with, without dropping a stitch, gives me hope though πŸ™‚ I am going to be coming back to read this many more times!!

    • Mom Gone Mad

      R, sorry I did not reply sooner to your lovely comment. Its always heartening to hear from people who have made tough choices – power to you girl!

      We cannot predict what we will do in the future – unfortunately. I think all we can do is make sure our head is screwed on right and that we keep listening to our instincts!

  21. Cacophoenix

    As a new mother, I have been fighting this every day, every night. Being alienated because I dared to have a kid is pretty depressing. I wrote about it, I started surfing and came here from Maid in Malaysia’s blog….I feel better knowing that someone else, somewhere else went through this too. I relate so much to this post, that it is funny to see how like automatons, we have to cross this garden of guilt and paranoia to realize our worth.

    http://www.binaryfootprints.wordpress.com

    • Mom Gone Mad

      Thanks for you comment! I’m sorry you have had to go through any kind of alienation. Does not sound pleasant!

      Realising your worth – as long as you get there – does it matter how?

  22. Ah! I found your post just in time. Gloomy day today I am sitting and reading random blogs…..I am glad I found yours.
    Your thoughts reflect my attitude entirely…and I was thinking I may be the only one now wanting to make life changing sacrifices for my kids – like getting back to work at 3 months. How could I? many have asked…well my job needs me I have argued more importantly I need my job. Its been 8 months since the dear little one was born and I have made peace with the fact that just because I am a working mom does not mean I have sacrificed on the love that I give him….he is thriving and is being nurtured to the maximum. Okay now I am rambling, let me stop and say:
    Nice blog!

  23. ys

    Happy Vishu to you and family. My community celebrates it too!
    Love,
    Sushama

  24. Dude, I so needed to read this right now. Just glad that I’m not alone. Thanks.

  25. Meluhhan

    I’ve been away from my favourite blog long enough now! So as a non mom, whose own mom gave up her dreams, here’s my take. You lead by example, so you’d be absolutely right to believe it’s good for your kids. Besides, when your life becomes solely about their lives, they’re bound to worry. And feel guilty about leaving home (i do) and taking the risks you need to to win big.

    The link below has a refreshingly honest take on the issue. I think she’s a great mom, a much better mom than *certain* stay at home moms I know, who, despite self-righteous protestations to the contrary, haven’t really made the decision for their kids benefit and will most likely use it to guilt trip their kids in the future.

    Here you go!

    • Mom Gone Mad

      Thank you thank you for this video! I watched it with my mum. It was wonderful and it really gives me hope:-)

      And it sparks the irreverent side of me!

    • thanks for the link on that video. i like her take on life. …”call the school cafeteria as ask them to bake chocolate chip cookies and make them look home-style!

  26. inshah allah!

    dont let the spark die

  27. ys

    Yoohoo! Anyone around here?? Hope all is well.

  28. Meluhhan

    Dude, tell me what you think of the video!

  29. As I was reading your post, I was thinking out loud, yes, yeap I can relate, or so true why is it women are the ones to give in to compromises, should we be blaming EVE here? because she had a taste of that forbideen apple? or is it because women have a better brains? I think it’s the second one. We can soooooo much in life, while men are happy to go to work and provide and go fishing every saturday (at least my dad enjoys that). Maybe as we get older we get wiser and our goals change?

    I have learned that the culture here in Croatia is to put your children’s needs first, it’s all about making your kids happy but what about ME I scream? because if I’m not happy then nobody ain’t happy (or so my hubby says)..

    ok I will stop rambling my incoherent ideas.

    good stuff you have here!

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