When I grow up I want to be…
In my head, this is going to be an excellent blog post in the style of the excellent BBC programme What Do Artists Do All Day, or somesuch title that I have misremembered.
In reality, and because I have become blog rusty of late, it will probably turn into a mish of this and a mash of that sprinkled with the other, following no cohesive train of thought and (like a bad poem) there will be no change by the end in you, the reader. This post will likely be littered with long, poorly formed sentences and stuttering syntax and it will be a labour of love if you get to the end of it. Having said that, I will try to avoid such style screamers as my father sent me yesterday (bracketed content my own): Jenny (the dog) got a stick stuck in her throat and Annie (the granddaughter) started studying her driving theory…
What I wanted to say when I began writing this blog in my head about 10 minutes ago was that I spend so much of my life on the edge of panic that I am now officially fed up with it. By the time I had fired up the old blog on the laptop, I had forgotten that thought about having courage in the face of fear and remembered another thought I had today – when, at 46 years and 10 months old, I realised I knew what I wanted to be when I grow up. (I suppose it will have to be at 47 now).
I think the two thoughts are linked. And I think that they are linked a bit like this.
I am in Wales. I am in Wales with two children (my own) and the dog (who does not exactly belong to anyone but himself, but still). This, you understand, is tantamount to me being Wales on my own. The reason is that although I am with others, I am on my own with the responsibility of the others. Now, why this responsibility should rest on my shoulders more heavily when I am in Wales than it seems to when I am at home in Essex, I don’t know. But, it does. Perhaps because at home there is at least one other adult around some of the time. Now I may know that the bulk of what I do at home for the dog and the children is identical to what I am doing in Wales for them, but at least in Essex there is the promise of back-up, should it be needed.
Here there is no back-up. And that is why I think I am nearly always on the edge of panic, and not just as a parent. In work, there is support, and a listening ear, but at the end of the day the buck stops with me. In my writing: the same. I have a special academic project I am doing this summer too: once again there is no back-up. I am panicked by the life I have got, even though I get up and do the damn thing every damn day.
This damn day (otherwise known as today : Wednesday) I was driving back from market day in a town in Mid-Wales. The children had not enjoyed it (although they had insisted on going). The dog had not much enjoyed it either. During the expedition, deep into shuffling summer crowds, I had felt the responsibility for everyone’s general wellbeing and demeanour weighing heavily on my shoulders. Vegan child refused food and drink at the appointed times, wore her scowl like a tattoo, and refused to remove her duffel coat and scarf. The younger one who is more sensitive to other people’s moods took her sister’s temper too much into account for her own good and went without small pleasures along the way herself to keep the peace. For my part, I bit my tongue, a lot.
On the way back the children fell asleep in the car and I took an unscheduled turn left, off the main road. The road was narrow, steep and winding. Before long I was almost in the clouds. This made me feel panicky too. One part of my mind throws out various disaster scenarios: breakdowns, crashes and getting lost. The other part says, ‘bad things happen and you cope.’ It’s true, I do. Only yesterday I melted the washing up bowl of the holiday let, and today I confessed my sins and said I would replace it. Bad things happen; I deal with them. The dog gets a stick stuck in her throat and a granddaughter studies for her driving test. Life goes on, and so do we. It’s what we do. It’s what I do.
I have therefore decided that doing does not need to cause me all the angst it does. I do it, it’s fine. Sometimes I do it: it’s not fine, I fix it. Doing should not worry me. I’ve been doing doing for nearly 47 years and it’s time to trust myself a little and say: you have this.
- Writing: I do it
- Parenting: I do that too
- Teaching: tick
- Managing people: doing that as well
- Dog-owning: it’s not pretty sometimes but I’ve been doing that for 21 years and 3 dogs’ lifetimes
- Travelling: yes I’ve done that and bad things have happened on occasion but what the heck
I do these things, they don’t do me. I choose to do them. Why worry then?
The thing that should worry me, and does, is the thing I want to be. As it turns out, it’s a poet. I want to be a poet, and that is the truth of the matter. Yes I’ve had a few poems find some good homes in the past, but I couldn’t describe myself as a poet.
Time to ditch the panic and be a poet, for reals perhaps.
Or maybe you can’t be a poet without the panic?