No matter how much you try to plan your life, your path can change overnight.I can guarantee you’ve just agreed with me, nodded, or said yes out loud because everyone has experienced this instant change to some degree, and if not, you definitely will when you’re probably least expecting it. That’s how it gets you…
Planning was everything to me, I’ve always been very good at it, but more importantly, I’ve always been very good at sticking to a plan. Some would call me obedient, some would call me stubborn. I’m a Taurus, we like to work hard, be dependable, but we aren’t great with sudden change. At all. Hence the need to plan.
I planned to leave the place I grew up in, go through university, get the best grades I could, get the best work experience I could, to get the best job I could. I planned to work hard to get promotions, to save money, to see places. I told my then-boyfriend-now-fiancé that I was moving to London no matter what to fulfill this plan, even though his job meant he would be staying put. I’d always felt that London was where I would feel I would ‘belong’. It is where I had expected everything to slot into place, and follow out my career girl plan.
Time passed, we did the long distance thing for a few years, and eventually I’d achieved all the things I’d set out to, but by then, I had stopped planning ‘the next bit’, post-dream job, and I started to question daily what I was doing, should I keep at it being this career mad, late night working perfectionist, (or just stubborn) or should I try and work on a plan that could mean I could move in with my chap, work from there, and find out those really annoying habits that you only find out about someone when you live together (never has a truer word been spoken than the saying ‘you don’t truly know someone until you live with them’). I was fed up of always going from one place to another, without any sense of belonging to anywhere in particular, and London can be a very lonely experience for a place which is so rich in activity and excitement when you’re slogging your guts working so hard. To keep a long story short, I got really anxious, had to miss a huge work trip, and ended up having to take some time off work.
Two weeks later, SURPRISE, I found out I was pregnant. What a way to make you have to hatch a new plan.
A very new and very different plan to what you ever expected at that time/age/stage of life. One that involved moving job, city, house, and life. But what amazed me was that it was surprisingly easy to do.
For someone who is not too hot on change, I love a new challenge, a new adventure. I had a new sense of belonging, a ‘this is fate’ ‘this is where I was meant to be’, ‘what I was meant to do’, moment in my life, and I thought having a surprise baby would surely make me have even more of a sense of belonging and purpose. I thought it would certainly make me quit my addiction to planning to make me live in the moment, go with the flow. (Funnily enough, we named her Flo.)
I now have two children, 14 months apart, one fast-approaching two, one six months. I’ve gone from being a very good planner, to an extremely good bat-shit-crazy planner. My day has to be planned to such a degree that I’m sure some people think I’m slightly insane.
Having two wild little ladies with me 24/7 I am pretty much insane anyway, sometimes I leave the house and expect people to high five me in the street just for managing to leave the house, fully dressed, with two young babes in tow.
No one needs to know the clothes are picked back from the dirty washing pile. Any mama will know what I’m talking about here. I have a 30-minute window of time in the morning where I can leave the house to go somewhere, but if I miss it, that’s it, someone needs a nap or food or something and we are stuck in until after naps in the afternoon. Food, sleep, activities, cleaning, milk, games, nappies, baths, washing, are all based around certain times of the day, and planning is my way of keeping my cool, having a sense of purpose.
Some days the plan works, some days plans fail, some days plans are made, and some days plans seem like the worst ideas ever.
Some days I feel like I was meant to be a mother and I am on top of the world. Other days I feel as clueless as when I did back in the big smoke working my balls off to be the most driven, career focused, stubborn perfectionist ever. But what motherhood has taught me is that it is fine to not feel like you belong anywhere. It’s fine that plans go haywire and you feel like you don’t really know what you’re doing or where you’re going half (or all) of the time. Everyone gets so caught up in feeling like they need to belong to something, to one idea, to one place, to one fixed state of mind or point of view, that they don’t allow themselves time to just be, and go with the flow.
With the power of hindsight, I realise I was searching ‘to belong’ because I actually felt very lonely. I was toing and froing, half living in a big busy London and half living out of a bag, also travelling in my job, just drifting from one place to another and never having time to just be, and just relax. And now I really don’t have that luxury of having the time to ‘just be and relax’ because both my children are very good at needing me at all times of the day, so if you can, take that luxury, for my sake!
Having children has completely combatted my desire to belong, combatted the loneliness I once felt, (I’ve already decided neither of them will be allowed to leave home) and certainly fulfilled my weird desire to plan to an extent I didn’t even know was possible.
But if like I once did, you feel like you need to belong, work out why you feel the need to belong. Is it because of an underlying factor? If it is loneliness, for example, go and join a local club, talk to some new people, read a book with a point of view you don’t necessarily agree with to get you thinking about what you stand for (and not just because it has a nice cover). Or, another idea, come babysit my kids, then you’ll never be left alone.