Well, knock me down with an umbrella; it’s only gone and actually rained. And rained. Oh, and then rained a little bit more! Alongside my feelings of grief, over the missing rays, the warmth of the sun on my skin, and the fact that the Toot Toot cars have come back indoors, I can’t help but, also, feel a modicum of relief. The land has had a well needed watering, which is great for plants and animals, and natural order has been restored: At least in terms of the Great British summer anyway! Life has gone back to normal.
It was whilst pondering, this return to normalcy, that got me to thinking; being normal and living an ordinary life, is incredibly underrated. It can often seem that, in our daily grind, we’re all expected to somehow be more than what we might, simply, be happy to be. That, in some ways, it’s all become one huge competition; to show to the world just how great we are, shouting our successes from the rooftops, and selfie-ing the hell out of our seemingly perfect lives, to share with all and sundry.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely agree with the fact that triumphs should be celebrated, I love seeing, and sharing in, the smiling photos of the lives of friends, and am incredibly proud of what I, and those I care for, have, and still are achieving. However, I’ve also come to the conclusion, that there’s something incredibly special about finding happiness within the status quo, which is ordinary, normal, everyday life.
I’m humbled by serving my family; ensuring there’s a healthy meal to share, a clean-ish (!) house in which to live, clean clothes to wear and the giving of my time, to play, to listen, to love and be a source of strength, and support, for family, friends and strangers too. Before this stage in my life, I worked. I was, and still am, proud of my career, and all I achieved during those years. I never imagined I’d find fulfilment in staying at home and never dared to dream that I’d actually have the opportunity to write. Or how I’d come to find comfort in the normality of my everyday life; the living of, quite commonplace, experiences over the course of my day, the routines and, often, sameness of it all – a reality my younger self would have belittled as frustrating and stifling. Yet one which now gives me a sense of inner tranquillity: I’m no longer striving for more or justifying my existence. I’ve found a sense of calm confidence, in a contentment, I never thought would be possible.
That’s not to say I don’t have hopes or dreams or plans. Because I do. And they excite me. Yet I’ve discovered I don’t have to feel dissatisfied, or impatient, that my ideas aren’t immediately coming to fruition. A lot can, and does, happen in life, and it’s not a failing to take time out to enjoy the present, and truly find happiness in a moment, however long that juncture may be.
During our infertility I struggled with the fact that I couldn’t control life. And goodness knows I tried. It felt unfair that our circumstances meant I could end up living a life which was a far cry from all I had dreamed, hoped and planned. I had to learn that we can’t control our destiny and that, just because something turns out differently, it doesn’t mean it can’t be loved, or relished, or embraced. And after the rollercoaster of infertility, the even-keel of a normal life is definitely a welcome break.
Of course, in reality, everyday life isn’t normal. It can be a challenge, strange encounters can, and do, happen, and some of the conversations I have with Sam could never be described as average: “Mummy, do you have udders?”. I’m also not certain that normal would ever be a word those who know me would use as a descriptor. But, I’d argue, that’s because we’re not looking at the wider meaning of the word. Normal can also mean well-adjusted, in good health and whole.
And, for the first time in my life, I do feel whole. I’m not constantly striving for more, or feeling unsatisfied with the life I lead. I’m aware these feelings were triggered by a grief we experienced, and that the subsequent happiness is, most probably, tied into the fact that we were finally able to conceive, and have our child. I do hope though, that had we not been successful, we would have found a way to contentment, in whatever form our family took, and however the future was shaped.
I now also find myself at peace with that later demon, who followed infertility; my desire for a second child. I’ve found acceptance, in our situation, and would even go so far as to say I’m happy that Sam will be our only one, as it’s the perfect family size for us; I just hadn’t realised it.
I know my life isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, and neither would theirs be mine, but that doesn’t matter. It’s not a competition; it’s about finding our own unique brand of self and not judging against others.
And so that’s what I’m doing! Waking each day, happy in my existence, counting my blessings, knowing that there have been, and will continue to be, moments of both elation and pain, but that it’s up to me to find contentment in my lot. I’m freed by the power that trusting in life again, has given. I’m thriving upon it.
There’s a magical anticipation in the fluidity of life, how it ebbs and flows and meanders, any which way, to the unexplored regions of the future. I’m excited by mine. I’m at peace and I’m finding the strength to stand tall, with my face to the sun (should it ever return!) embracing all I’ve been through, enjoying all the present has to offer, and looking forward to the next chapters, whatever they may be.
And hey, it’s a really lovely feeling.