HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN TO LET GO?
By Natalie Green
(as appears in October 2007 issue of You magazine)
I just sold one of my most gorgeous possessions on eBay. I miss it already.
It was a classic, black, chiffon scoop neck top I haven’t worn in two years. It used to make me feel like Angelina or one of the Friends beauties whenever I wore it. Sexy. Confident. Fun.
It doesn’t fit me anymore.
Granted, I am nine months pregnant but if I stretch my mind back almost as far as my Bonds singlets now stretch over my expanding belly, I remember that even before this, my second pregnancy, the top somehow stopped looking ravishing on me. In it, I started feeling more Courtney Love than Courtney Cox. Its fail-safe feel-good guarantee gave way to prevailing thoughts that I was trying to pull off a look that was no longer me.
I’m sure my top’s new owner will give it a better life than I now can – it might even go to some fabulous parties.
But what about those other things that aren’t quite me anymore that I can’t put on eBay? Like hairstyles, or a dedicated fitness regime, leisure time activities … leisure time in fact. Or certain friendships.
It’s probably no coincidence that I took a detour from my old comfort zone to the twilight zone around the time the Boori nursery furniture was delivered. Change tends to come with the territory of parenthood: nappy change, lifestyle change, no folding money, only loose change …
Who has the time or inclination to blow-dry their hair or workout everyday when there’s a mountain of washing to get through and you haven’t slept for three consecutive hours in months?
It’s hard to believe there actually was a time when a gal could spend countless hours with her friends mulling over (in detail!) topics that now seem unimportant and a tad over-dramatic.
Undeniably, change is unavoidable when you become a mother in the hood. Being responsible for someone else’s needs 24/7 takes its toll on your perspective, self-confidence, patience and allocation of me-time.
I was at a barbecue recently and a woman older and seemingly wiser than me advised that when you have young children your life goes on hiatus for a few years. Does that mean that identity is also quashed temporarily? Have I changed forever or for now?
As my offspring become more and more independent, and I manage to actually get a life, will I eventually reconnect with my old habits, needs and style? Should I put my clothes in storage rather than on eBay; maintain my old expectations of physical standards rather than excusing the odd extra kilo; and persevere with friends with whom I no longer feel a real connection?
My friend Jo recently told me about a fall-out she had with a friend she once considered as indispensable to her life as bubbles are to champagne. “Us girls have to stick together,” they regularly toasted. Unfortunately, as time marched on, they didn’t.
“I don’t know if it was because I changed after my baby was born or she changed or we both did, but eventually the little time we actually spent together consisted of frustrating attempts to muster up enthusiasm for one another’s stories and problems.”
Clearly, if you’ve previously shared a closeness with someone, you can’t fake a connection after it drops out. There is no protocol for ‘breaking-up’ with a bestie.
And more to the point, should you ever allow such a bond to break? Is it better in the long run for us girls to stick together for better or for worse or, should all ties be cut when a relationship becomes almost as hard work as parenthood?
How do you know when to let go?
Although it is, hands down, the most noble, most taxing job in the world, I don’t want to be defined only by my role as a mother.
Unlike years gone by, we modern mums aren’t expected to don a housecoat and dip our heads in blue rinse as soon as we reproduce. We can continue on our career paths, wear Tsubi jeans and our mothers’ groups are as likely to meet in the garden bar over a beer as they are to gather for tea in the garden.
However, as much as I want to boast not to be fooled by the kids that I got, I’m still Jenny from the Block - I can’t deny I’m not the person I was ‘BC’. Circumstances change, and in the case of my waist, so do circumferences.
If I think back 10 years, my ultimate dreams involved getting a better job, travelling, spending some quality time with Johnny Depp and having a lot of debaucherous, frivolous fun on the weekend (and on week days).
Cut to now - and while work, travel, fun and Johnny still feature in certain dreams, the things that matter more to me can’t be as easily ticked off my To Do list: cherish what’s good in my life; work on my own terms; maintain a safe happy environment for my family; be good to me.
Maybe that’s how I should decide ultimately what stays and what goes. Do the things I surround myself with allow me to be true to the person I am today and the person I hope to be tomorrow?
In fact, I’m heading back to eBay. After all, it’s not only about selling yesterday’s cast offs, you can also buy some very hot new numbers to make you feel very good about what lies ahead.
Natalie Green is the author of Mums Are Wonderful! (http://longuevill.cart.net.au/details/764689.html)
She’s also a mother (of Kai and Asha), wife, writer, PR Consultant and true believer that selflessness is the most over-rated virtue.