This is your annual reminder to make time for yourself over Christmas.
It is a great time of year (for many, not for everyone) to see friends and family, buy thoughtful gifts, decorate your house top to toe in tinsel or greenery: wrap, post, socialise, and eat, eat, eat.
It is a great time to stretch yourself to breaking and end up exhausted.
If you can, plan some days that are empty. Or some hours. Or some minutes. Force yourself to sit down. Or go to sleep. Or breathe.
It is OK to not have a wonderful time every moment of every day over Christmas. It is OK if your children do not have a wonderful time every moment of their school holiday. You get to be a person too.
tinylife will return on 12th January.
As a woman with mental health issues, and the parent of an enby kid, I’m often aware of other people’s male-cis-het-ableist privilege.
Today, however, I have the most privilege I’ve ever felt in my life.
- I am in an air bnb (financially secure enough for this, and multiple trips to Tesco for cashews and vegan chocolate)
- for two nights (not in a nine-five with four weeks of holiday a year)
- my children being looked after by their dad (co-parenting: surely the ultimate privilege?)
- writing (able to pursue this un-lucrative work for many years now)
- listening to music and podcasts (having decided I can afford Spotify: currently on free trial)
- and reading (only one was free from the library).
This is heaven.
This. An accident of birth, and race, cisgendered heterosexual marriage, and secure family that led me to this point.
My oldest drew me this picture and challenged me to write a blog to go with it. Here goes!
When I think about becoming what society calls beautiful, I think: yeah, whatevs.
When I think about becoming what society calls financially successful, I think: yeah, whatevs.
When I think about not ever buying anything that is remotely close to the latest fashion, I think: yeah, whatevs.
When I think about having a fancy holiday in the sun every summer, I think: yeah, whatevs.
When I think about other people’s religion, ritual or practices, I think: yeah, whatevs.
When I think about how other people choose to parent, I think: yeah, whatevs.
When I think about other people’s taste in music, I think: yeah, whatevs.
When I think about what pre-teens say about almost everything, I think: it’s usually ‘yeah, whatevs.’
Let’s talk about things we don’t do. Not things we don’t want to do – let’s not talk about those, though if we contemplate the whys and why-nots we might surprise ourselves and change our minds. I must make a note to contemplate these things more. I make a lot of mental notes to do things, but they remain undone.
It’s not laziness. I’ve devoted myself to enough impossible projects enough times to know that. It’s not that there isn’t time, because we all know that the less time we have, the more we get done, and anyway, if I am abundant in anything, that thing is hours in the day.
Could it be that we’ve subconsciously Marie Kondoed some things out of our lives because they’re bad for the soul? And if so, does that mean no more ironing, ever?
I may speak in the tongues of yoga and of cycling for miles, but if I still love food, I will become neither svelte nor sinuous. And if I have fast days, or avoid dairy or meat, or if I have all faith, and chunter on about my heart health and how weight is just a number, but still love food, I am not, and will never be thin. If I give away all my Dairy Milks, and hand over my cola bottles, I may kid myself on I’m being ‘good,’ but if I still love food, I gain, um, everything …
Food is patient; food is kind; food does not insist on its own way; it is not as irritable or resentful as I am about societal beauty standards; it rejoices in my ‘wrong’doings.
It rejoices … in my fat rolls.
At the close of my sixth decade, I’m too old to play games. Acceptance is the easier option, and more likely to yield success.
I accept the signs of a life lived in a perfectly serviceable body. Once, I played the game. Girls manipulated their appearance to win the man, the money and the desirable life, though the odds were against us and the prizes were overstated.
And even in the unfeasibly smooth face of the septuagenarian celebrity, the pursuit of youth is a game not worth playing. Good luck to those women, but for me, commodification in the guise of empowerment and visibility of the older woman is too high a stake.
I’m out of the game. I won’t buy the miracle cream and I’ve embarked on my last diet. Because, I’m relieved to report, being older suits me.