Ambition

It’s interesting – the word ‘ambition’.  The definition in most dictionaries for this word is, ‘a strong desire to do or achieve something’.  The word conjures up an energetic go-getter.  Hardworking.  Determined.  Lets nothing get in their way.  Ruthless at times.  Focussed.  People to be admired!

Ambitious people don’t understand people who don’t put their careers first.  Ambitious people don’t understand when people have other priorities in their lives and therefore are not motivated by money or promotion.  Ambitious people find those people very difficult to understand – because they do not know what motivates them.

Family, you tell them.  Yes, but everyone has a family, I have a family – what makes yours so important?

And therein lies the difference in perspective.  A career driven person is deemed to be ambitious because they are chasing a desire to be financially successful and achieve status and respect because of their talent – what they do.

A family driven person is also ambitious.  They have an overwhelming desire to have a family life where they can look after their partner, be there for their children, be present and mindful and make their house a happy home.

Sadly – this is looked down upon as a lack of ambition.  But if we go back to the definition of what ambition actually is – then what is the difference?  Following one path will make you financially rich and secure – but it may come at a cost.  What cost?  Not being able to be there for the ones that you love because of the demands of your job.  Not noticing that anything may be wrong with the ones you love because of the demands of your job.  Having to neglect the ones that you love – because of the demands of your job.

Following the other path may mean that you are seen as lacking commitment by your employers because you put your family first.  You may miss out on opportunities for promotion or not even be considered for certain roles because you don’t give your ‘all’ to work.  This may mean that financially you are not as well off as you might have been, if only your thought processes or approach was different.

In each case – neither person is wrong.  It is not wrong to want to be successful in your job, to be talented in an area and want to strive to reach new heights and be good at what you do.  However, it is also not wrong to want to look after your family.  To have the time to tuck your children in bed so that they sleep peacefully.  It is not wrong to refuse to take on additional responsibilities at work, because you know that takes time away from how much you will be able to be there for the ones that you love.  The latter choice is not a lack of ambition – it is a different ambition though  – to have a successful family life.

If we could – we would marry the two up.  Be extremely successful in our careers and have plenty of time to spend with loved ones.  Some people to manage it – at least from afar, it appears that they do…

But the point of my blog today is, let’s not dismiss the homemakers – the people who make a choice to stay at home and look after their families; or the ones that decide that they only want to go ‘so far’ in their careers.  Let’s not think that they are lacking in ambition, are lazy, or just don’t have what it takes!   Let’s dig a bit deeper and realise that their ambition – to create happiness and stability in their family homes is one to be admired as well.  These people that are there to comfort their loved ones, who have the time to ensure that their family is healthy (mentally, as well as physically), and happy  – these people are just as important and necessary and are just as deserving of respect as those who are financially successful and receive promotion upon promotion.

It is important to remember – and this is where I will end really…a job is just a job.  If you love it – that’s brilliant.  I have a job that I am fortunate enough to love.  But it’s the people in my life that drive me.  Not money.  Not finance.  Nothing else.  It is the people around me who look after me when I am feeling sick, or tired, or need cheering up.  It is the people in my life who I share my happiness and successes with, who make me laugh and bring me joy.  Jobs will come.  Jobs will go.  Family and loved ones – we should do our best to keep them forever, and make as much time as we can to be with them.  Money, you can earn again.  Promotions, you can achieve those later.  But once a person that you love has gone, or once your child’s childhood has changed into adulthood – no matter how much you try to turn back the tides of time – you can never get those people, those moments or those missed opportunities back ever again.

 

 

 

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My single friends…

For the first time yesterday, I felt the temperature drop. Properly. Outside was cold with some sleet and I gleefully put on my scarf and coat. Finally, it feels as though we’re on the cusp of winter.

Normally, I wouldn’t have ventured out on a day like this. I would’ve snuggled up in my house, wiling the day away, doing my best to stay cosy. But I had arranged to meet my friend, we were going to travel into Birmingham by train for a spot of lunch and then window shopping.

I arrived at the station- which was a second home during my university days. Back then, I had a train pass, I didn’t need to check the electronic boards for the train times. I just knew when the trains were coming, which platforms they were leaving from, and efficiently I’d make my way to where I needed to go. Sighing impatiently at the novice travellers who with bewilderment, would be standing in the middle of nowhere, constantly checking where they need to go, checking the boards, moving slowly and holding everyone up.

So, imagine my feeling of chagrin, when I’m not sure where to buy my ticket from, which ticket to buy, which line to stand in. Suddenly, I felt old – standing in a world that I used to feel so comfortable in, that I used to have dominion over. And then of course the station was packed. Packed with university aged students, all in flimsy Halloween costumes, standing around chatting excitedly in large groups- waiting – going nowhere – just taking up space, dressed up as skeletons and vampires and zombies- wearing clothes that definitely would not protect them from the chilling cold.

Once my friend and I had purchased our tickets, we waited barely a minute before the train arrived at the platform. As expected, the train was crowded with passengers which meant that my friend and I had to stand all the way to Birmingham. But we didn’t mind. We hadn’t seen each other for 2 years and although that time had passed so quickly, we had a lot to catch up on, and within a blink of an eye we arrived at our destination. The platforms were crowded with shoppers, eagerly pushing forward to shop, and families on half term, travelling with their various coloured suitcases, escaping.

Walking to Selfridges took about ten minutes, but it was comforting being in the excited, purposeful hustle and bustle of the shopping centre. Bright lights, clean pathways, beautiful shops – I’d missed it. It reminded me of London and just being back in that atmosphere again made my heart soar.

My stomach often dictates my actions, so we had lunch first. In the end, style trumped substance. I am a fan of Indian street food, and there was a stylish street food restaurant within Selfridges, that we opted for. Luckily, if the company is good, it doesn’t matter if the food isn’t.

So, now we have almost arrived at the point of my blog.

My friend and I, came back in contact with each other 11 years ago, through Facebook. We used to go to the same primary school, but at secondary we went to different places and life took us in different directions. There were many similarities in what we had been through when we were children, and 11 years ago we met up again and have been firm friends ever since then. At the time that we came back in contact again, we were both at the stage of our lives when we were looking for that person that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with. 11 years on, we are both in stable, happy relationships, both with the knowledge of hindsight – why were we worrying all those years ago, things worked out the way they were meant to.

Let me illustrate this point in a different way. One of the biggest things that my mother drilled into me, from a tiny age – look after your skin. Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise. It still shocks me when people I meet, don’t do that. But skincare is really important to me and my skin feels dry and tight if I don’t look after it. So, as we were in Selfridges, the holy grail of make up, skincare, perfumes and all things gorgeous, it would have been remiss of me not to look for a winter serum to add an extra layer of protection for my skin.

It was simple really – I knew I wanted a serum, I knew what I wanted it for, I knew where I wanted to go to look for them. I approached the counters that I was interested in, one was incredibly warm and helpful, made me try the product, I was pleased with it – the assistant went to get it – but it was out of stock! I didn’t worry, I went to the other counter that I trusted, they also, had none of their serum in stock.

Honestly, I was beginning to get downhearted. This was supposed to have been a very simple task – buy a serum, go home, moisturise. I know it sounds incredibly dramatic and nonsensical to be worried about not getting a product, but it was how I felt. Immediately my friend carried out a google search for respected serums, and as she read out the list of recommendations, my ears pricked up and we headed towards Debenhams to make our purchases. When we arrived, the assistant was extremely helpful, knew just what I needed, gave me some helpful advice and a few free samples to help. I left feeling looked after and satisfied.

So what was the moment of enlightenment that I had? The serum shopping experience got me thinking about life on a larger scale. More specifically, when you’re looking for someone to be in that special relationship with.

When you’re single, you look around and so many people appear to be in such happy, wonderful relationships, people ask you why you’re not in one too – you have no answer. It should be easy for you to find someone, you have everything going for you, you’re doing the right things and are in the right place at the right time, so why not?

The reason why – it’s simple. The reason you haven’t met that person is because the universe is looking after you. Either, the person you are going to be with forever isn’t ready yet and has a few life lessons to learn – or equally – you’re not. Nonetheless- you will find that person. It might take a bit longer to find them. And when you do, you’ll look back in hindsight with relief and be grateful that all the relationships that you thought were ‘the one’, didn’t work out.

The reason for me writing this, is because those of you who might be feeling despondent that you haven’t met that person that you want to be with forever – don’t lose hope. Don’t lose hope. It is always better to be alone, than to be with someone who doesn’t make you feel that you have arrived home. Don’t compare your life with anyone else’s. Don’t be brought down by somebody else’s timeline – you should have been married by this age, children by this age, house and car by that age. Forget all that. It’s archaic, it’s ridiculous, it’s obsolete.

It’s your life. Your very special, unique life – and even though I do believe in reincarnation- this particular life, you will only live once. So live it. Whilst you are single, do all those things that you won’t be able to do when you have a partner, a mortgage, babies and nursery fees.

Go on holiday. Travel as much as you can. Swim in the sea. Climb mountains. Meet new and interesting people.

Smile. Smile as much as you can. Don’t waste life thinking about what you don’t have YET. Appreciate and be grateful for what you do have. And when the universe knows it’s the right time for you – that person will just be around the corner…

The Last Leaf

Today is a Sunday smack bang in the middle of the most confusing October that I have ever experienced.  I grew up with September hailing the start of the new school year, and the start of autumn with rainy days, winds blowing the ever-changing leaves off their sturdy branches, winds that would make walking difficult and at times would take your breath away.  Dark nights creeping forward.  The heating going on, curtains being closed and a primal instinct that would kick in, of wanting to curl up in front of a fire with your loved ones, trying to keep cosy and warm,

This September and October have been mischievous and tricky.  You wake up feeling cold.  The house is cold.  The mornings are darker.  This all makes sense – after all, autumn is here.  You leave the house suitably and snugly dressed.  Yes, autumn is here.  And then, as the day progresses, and the temperature rises, the sun is out, the cold winds have disappeared – there is a mixture of gratitude, for the heat, sunshine and general well-being, and then a feeling of disarray – this is not how autumn was meant to play out!

Today though, it feels as though order has been restored – whether it is temporary or permanent, remains to be seen, but for now, everything is as it should be.  The rain is falling at a steady speed, the skies are suitable gloomy with grey, non-descript clouds and the wind is making the branches of the trees sway frantically in the wind.  And I am a passive observer, pleased to be indoors, pleased to be wearing warm clothes, and grateful to God for having shelter, warm food and the company of loved ones surrounding me.

As I look outside, net curtains slightly obscuring my view of the street in front of me,  I gaze at the young sapling that stands bravely, fighting all the elements, in front of our driveway.  It’s wiry frame only has a few golden, saffron leaves clinging onto its branches.  Every year, this tree grows a bit taller, the slender trunk thickens slightly, the branches become a tiny bit sturdier and I feel like a proud parent, watching this once tiny sapling, grow steadily and reach its adolescence.  My favourite part of the year has passed. It already revealed its fiery golden colours.  Now I wait.  I wait with infinite sadness, as the sapling loses its leaves.  Sometimes several, with a huge, angry gust of wind.  And sometimes gradual, as the leaves one by one, dance and drift merrily to their impending fate, to the loveless, concrete ground.

The tree reminds me of a film I watched a few years ago, and has stuck with me ever since.  ‘Lootera’, which translates to ‘predator’, someone who robs the innocent and unsuspecting, was based on a short story called ‘The Last Leaf’,  written by O Henry, an American writer, in 1907.  I’m sad to say that I haven’t read the story yet, but I will get around to it one day.

As the title suggests, ‘Lootera’ is about a man who charms his way into a family, with dishonourable intentions.  It is a period drama, set in Bengal in the early 1900’s.  The ‘hero’ captures the heart of the female protagonist and they fall in love.  Unpredictably though, the ‘hero’ does not change his ways, even though the audience are desperately willing him to.  He has a friend/accomplice who reminds him with strong words about what his mission is and the consequences of not carrying out the job correctly.  He lets everyone down – including the audience, who can’t quite believe that he would betray his love, and leaves, completing his mission, but leaving a trail of devastation as he departs.  A few years later, we discover that the family that was left behind are ruined, the heroine’s father has died, and she is dying of tuberculosis, living alone in a remote hill station, with her maid, who is both her carer and companion.  The hero is now a deadly fugitive, and forcibly seeks refuge in this remote house, without realising who the occupants are.  An angry, mistrustful reunion occurs, and there is the constant threat of the police.  In fear of their lives, the heroine and her maid reluctantly provide shelter to the fugitive, whereupon he discovers the extent of her illness, and realises that she is dying.  She tells him that she does not have long left, and that she will die when the last leaf on the trees outside the house drifts away.  Wracked with immense guilt, anger, sadness, and the loss of a love that could have been, he takes care of her and tries to bring some happiness back for her final days.  Her health does make some palpable improvements, but everyday as she looks outside, and realises that there is only one tree with a few leaves left, the rest have all disappeared.  Seeing that her health has improved, the outlaw decides that if he is going to survive, he needs to flee.  So, in the middle of the night, he takes his chance, and makes his escape – but is shot dead by a police blockade who have been waiting for him.  She wakes up the next morning and realises that he has gone.  Her eyes turn towards the tree with the last remaining leaf – and even though the wind is blowing fiercely, this last leaf is clinging on to the branch will all its might.  Suspiciously, she looks closely at the leaf, and realises with wide eyes – the leaf had been tied onto the tree so that it would not fall – and with happy tears in her eyes, she understands why…

I love that story.  I love that ending.  It breaks my heart that the two star crossed lovers could not be together at the end – and yet, I know that the story ended correctly.  Well, at least in my eyes it did.

I think this story will stay for me forever – it’s about treachery, love, devastation and ultimately redemption.  The ‘hero’ was fortunate that he had been able to make amends to the woman that he had wronged before he died.  The heroine knew that she had been loved after all, and although her heart had been broken, she received the closure that she needed as she healed.

It wasn’t a story that I read, it was a story that I watched, and although I’m a huge advocate of people reading, and spending time being lost in a book, I think the most important thing is hearing a story, and hearing about someone else’s life, and the effect that leaves upon you.  Sometimes, I wish we could go back to the days when people gathered around a campfire, snuggled up to one another and let their minds drift away whilst a village elder would narrate a story that might be new, or perhaps was heard many times before.  Because whether you read it, or watch it, or hear it – the story itself is the most important thing isn’t it?  Not the medium that it comes through.

Kranti!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been despairing at how little women have progressed in the world despite humanity having been in existence for at least 10,000 years. In the west, we are fighting for equal pay. However, if you’ve been following a certain high profile investigation in the US, you will have realised that equal pay is still the least of our worries. The very fact that if you dare to reveal that you were sexually assaulted, you – the survivor – will be viewed with eyes of suspicion and people will refuse to believe you.

This hasn’t just happened with Ford and Kavanaugh, it’s recently happened with Ronaldo. There is evidence that he initially said that he knew the lady in question, was saying ‘No’ – but he continued with what he was doing anyway. There is the case of Johnny Depp, his ex partner emerged with photos of bruises all over her face. But people refuse to believe the woman. Again and again and again. The woman MUST be lying. She must be a gold digger. She must have an angle. Because these men are not capable of violence. These men are not capable of committing what they have been accused of.

And it’s not just men who don’t believe women. Women don’t believe women either!!! I’ve come across so many cases where women have divulged some of their experiences- and the minute their back has turned other women have said, ‘I don’t believe he did that to her, he’s never done anything like that to me!’

Well, there you go. In order for someone to be proved to be lecherous and violent and rapey – does that mean that they behave like a Bollywood villain caricature and behave like that with every female that they come across? Of course bloody not. Rape and violence isn’t about attraction – it’s about power and anger. How many times does that have to be reiterated for both men and women to get this?

Recently, there was a heartbreaking hashtag trending on Twitter. The words were ‘why I didn’t report’. The hashtag was in response to Trump’s assertion that if the allegations against Kavanaugh were true, why hadn’t Ford come forward years ago, when the alleged incident had occurred?

And then an outpouring of heart-rending stories began – men, women, children – abused, assaulted, preyed upon – but never reported their experiences. Why? Because they knew they would not be believed. Because the abuser was often an upstanding member of the family, or the community, or had been accused before and the previous victim had not been believed. Sometimes, the survivors didn’t say anything because of the possible consequences – my dad would have killed him, then he would have gone to prison. Some survivors thought it was their fault. Some survivors were too young. 4 years old at the time of their attacks – preyed upon by family members. Family are supposed to love you aren’t they? Sometimes, the attacker was the most desirable, best looking guy around – they don’t rape do they? Good looking people don’t ‘NEED’ to rape. The number of times that I’ve read that! Unbelievable.

A thread that ran through everyone’s account? The sense of shame. As if they were also partly to blame. I couldn’t hold my tears back as I read each person’s account.

The Nobel Peace Prize went to two deserving winners- both fighting against sexual violence in different parts of the world against women.

I am angry though. Sexual violence against any one doesn’t seem to be taken seriously. Men in power are only interested in protecting their own – and ensuring that the corrupt ‘boys will be boys’ club remains in power. And we stand by helplessly. Even women have voted for this to happen.

There isn’t a country in the world, there hasn’t been a period of time in the world, where it has been safe for women. However, the voice of women needs to be heard and taken seriously. It is a time for change. It is time for a revolution. And I pray for my fellow women, and men who are oppressed, not taken seriously, dismissed because they are not a part of the relevant big boys club – our time will come. Darkness will not last forever – even though this one seems to have been upon us for the last 10 millennia. We have to keep fighting, keep supporting one another and start believing survivors.

PS: The title of my blog – Kranti – means revolution in Hindi.

Memory Box

My youngest has a school project to complete. It’s called ‘Memory Box’.  The basic premise of this topic is for young children to develop an understanding of time.  That things happened before they were born.  They begin to understand that there was a past.  People grow older over time, and so will they.  A part of their homework involves interviewing older people and asking them how their childhoods were different to the children of present day.  My daughters’ eyes were as wide as saucers when they realised that I did not have a computer when I was little, and the internet had not been invented yet.  Even I have to laugh to myself about how ancient I sound.

Naturally, I begin to feel nostalgic.  I begin to look through old photographs of myself, my family members and marvel at how much we have changed.  I actually detest looking back at old photos of myself.  My vision is marred with how difficult the times were, how miserable I often felt, how unhappy I was with my circumstances at that time.  But my daughters don’t see any of that.  They still recognise their mother, looking younger, but in many ways, still the same.

On my Timehop, a photograph of my mother’s parents appeared.  To me, they look like they are in their late 20’s, early 30’s.  It’s difficult to tell.  As was the fashion at that time, they are not smiling in their portrait, but they do have an aura of immense dignity and kindness.  My heart feels a pang, an ache, it’s as if their eyes are looking straight at me, both my Grandfather and Grandmother together, letting me know, that they are there with me always.  A source of comfort.  So distant, but not so far.

The world famous story, about the little orphaned wizard, Harry Potter, resonated with so many people, crossing boundaries of age, gender, class, ethnicity.  Why?  Because at the root of the story, is a lonely, misunderstood boy, who desperately misses his parents, and has the responsibility of saving the world on his tiny shoulders.  It’s never easy for him.  He is often reviled and hated by others.  No matter what he does, often people feel that he is doing the wrong thing and let him know this, in no uncertain terms.  Who hasn’t felt like that, at certain times in their life?

One of the parts of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, that always stays with me, is the image of little Harry sitting, on his own, in front of the Mirror of Erised, gazing longingly at the image of his parents, who appear to him in the mirror.  His greatest desire, to be with them once again.  When I was younger, I remember feeling so sorry for Harry and being able to empathise with how he felt – I myself often felt like that about my own father.  But as I’ve become older, the pain of staring at images of people long gone, and wishing that they were here, feels even more painful, even more poignant.

I have to physically pull myself away from browsing through old photos, and recapping over old memories.  I enjoy studying the expressions on people’s faces, what were they feeling at the time, how they are looking at everyone else.  After all, ‘It does not do to dwell on dreams, and forget to live’ (J K Rowling).

And that is what we have to do isn’t it?  Look back through old photos with a smile.  Remember those who are no longer here, with fondness.  And know that if they were here, they would be screaming at the top of their lungs – ‘Go and live!  Go and live.  Create new memories with the ones that you love.  Take an abundance of photos that everyone can look back on.  After all, you too will be missed, when you are gone.’

Separation

When someone dear to you passes away, you never ‘get over’ it.  It’s a ridiculous concept – ‘getting over’, the loss of someone.  You can’t ‘get over’ it.  It’s not possible.  What you learn to do, is live with it.  You find that even though you may think about them everyday – remembering them becomes less painful.  Your eyes don’t sting with tears as often.  Your throat doesn’t constrict as frequently, with the pain of needing to swallow back the sobs of grief.  At the time of their loss, you don’t know how you will carry on, how you will survive in the world without them.  Everyday is a miracle though – because somehow you do.  Somehow you make it through and you manage to carry on.

When you least expect it though – you are taken by surprise, and the memories and the grief come shooting back with a vengeance – and there you are, back to where you were, the pain as fresh and raw as ever.  You realise, ‘I hadn’t got over anything.  I’d just learned to live with it.’

Let me put things into context.  31 years ago, my father passed away when he was just 33 years old.  No one in my family has ever been able to ‘deal with it’.  Don’t get me wrong – we all function perfectly well.  We love each other, take care of each other, are there for one another at the drop of a hat.  We lead professionally successful lives, we are happy, positive people.  BUT – each of us, still finds his loss unbearable and challenging to deal with, in our own ways.  At times, we can look through old photographs, share anecdotes – and it’s ok to that.  Other times – no one can even say his name.

This week, we were dealt a blow, that our Mashi’s husband had passed away on Friday.  Mashi, in Bengali, is your mother’s sister.  My thoughts immediately leapt to those left behind. They are the ones who need support – they are the ones who need someone to look after them and feel like they’re not alone.  My mother’s family are all in India, so I needed to be there for my mum, making sure that she was ok, because even though her family are thousands of miles away, grief is still grief, and I knew that more acutely than anyone else in the world, she would know what her sister was going through.

Throughout all this, my husband kept checking on me – ‘Are you ok?’ He kept asking.  My response was the same each time.  ‘I’m fine, don’t worry about me, I’m fine.’  My thoughts were occupied with other people – not myself, and I genuinely believed that I was fine.  We were caught up in the routine of our jobs for the weekend, and what we needed to get done.  And I genuinely believed that I was fine.  Every so often, I was checking in on my mum through texts or calls, making sure that she was ok.  I was fine.

And then we sat down, after our dinner, after sending the girls to bed, to watch an Indian singing programme that we are huge fans of – and I was still fine.  Everything was fine.  Until one of the contestants, a beautiful, angelic, little girl started to sing a song…and I realised that I was absolutely not fine.  The pain and sensation of my heart breaking all over again, was something that I simply had not expected.  It was the innocence and purity with which she sang those words, that made my heart ache, the agony was unbearable.

As I have done in previous blogs, I’ll write the original lyrics and then translate:

Tumse Milke
Aisa Laga Tumse Milke
Armaan Huey Purhey Dil Ke
Aye Meri Jaan E Wafa
Teri Meri Mere
Teri Ik Jaan Hai
Saath Tere Rahenge Sadha
Tumse Na Honge Juda

Which translates to:

Meeting you, it felt as though all the wishes of my heart had been fulfilled.                            Oh love of my life.                                                                                                                         Yours, mine, mine, yours, it’s one life now.                                                                                        I will always stay with you.                                                                                                             We will never be separated from each other. 

As you can tell from the lyrics, this is a very simple and very beautiful extract from a love song.  The lyrics describe the simplicity of falling in love.  The innocence of falling in love.  There is nothing complicated about this.  You fall in love with someone and you realise that this is the person that makes you feel totally fulfilled.  Everything about them makes you stop looking for anyone else in the world.  This is the person for you.  And you promise that you will stay with them forever. And you will never leave them.

And I cried, and cried and cried.  I’d heard this song so many times in my life before, but never really paused to think about what the words meant.  The agony and the pain that the lyrics caused me yesterday, was the fact that no one can actually make that promise to anyone.  You can’t promise anyone that you will never be separated from them, because unfortunately, that is not in your hands.  There is a greater force out there – our own mortality, which we have no control over – so you can’t make promises to people that you’ll never be separated from them – because it’s not up to you.  Although this was a romantic love song – the promise that you will never leave someone that you love, applies to so many different relationships – not just romantic ones.  The bond between parents and children; siblings; friends – you all hope that you will never be parted from one another.

And that’s the ultimate pain of losing someone in your life.  If it was up to them – they wouldn’t leave.  If it was in your control – they wouldn’t have gone.  But ultimately, that’s what happens to us all.

So, what can we do whilst we are here?  We have to spread so much love and affection, that even when it’s our time to go, it will cause pain, but in the quiet moments, when people remember, and think about us again – they feel warm and comforted.

Ultimately, I suppose the lyrics, ‘We will never be separated from each other,’ means that even when we are not physically together anymore, our memories will always be there in someone’s heart – and that promise still remains fulfilled…

Good enough!

I don’t think there is a profession in the world, where the ‘must do better’ culture does not exist.  Every person I speak to, regardless of position, profession, part time, full time – the factor that is in common between us all is – striving to be better all the time.

What’s wrong with that, you may ask?  Absolutely nothing at all.  Nothing! How does anything ever improve if people are always doing what they have always done, in the same way, never questioning, never analysing, never reflecting on how things are.   And it’s certainly the culture that I was brought up with, both at home and in the workplace – have goals, strive to do better, achieve more, smash targets etc.

The one area – that I feel, the ‘must do better’ culture isn’t helpful – is parenting.  In fact, I was fortunate to sit in on some training at school, about ‘Attachment Theory’, and the impact this has on children in the very first few months of their lives.  How babies are treated by their parents, at the very beginnings of their tiny lives, goes onto shape their behaviour and how they form relationships with others as they grow bigger.  It comes as no surprise, that the children who display a lot of ‘unlovable’ behaviour, need the most love, and the psychologist who was training us, explained that if you remember nothing else – ‘connection first, then correction’.  Which meant create a connection, a relationship with those children who present challenging behaviour first – then correct their behaviour.  For those of us who have been teaching for a long time, or have worked predominantly with children who can present quite challenging behaviour, this came as no surprise, although it was nice to have that soundbite to take away; ‘connection, then correction.’

What was particularly refreshing, and actually blew my mind a little, was when we were learning about attachment theory, and the significance of the first few months of a baby’s life, the psychologist called effective parenting, ‘good enough parenting’.  I was stunned when I heard it.  I repeated those words again and again in my mind.  Good enough parenting.  Good enough parenting.  Not good parenting.  Not great parenting.  Good enough.

This meant that as a parent, you were doing what you could to respond to the baby’s needs – be that milk or nappy change or sleep or comfort – you were trying to solve the problem.  You might not get it right every time, but at least you were trying.  You are being good enough.  You’re trying your best.  You are good enough.

In many professions – it’s not ok to be ‘good enough’.  You have to be the best!  That’s all I’ve heard since I was tiny – aim high, reach for the stars, be the best.  But the hardest job of all – parenting – it was so incredibly refreshing and calming to hear – if you’re doing your best to meet your child’s needs, even if you don’t get it right each time – you are good enough.  And you know what?  I’ll flipping well take that!  I’m happy to be good enough as a parent.

One of the things that causes me the most amount of concern, is am I giving my own children enough opportunities to do things out of school?  Do they go to enough clubs?  Are they getting enough exercise?  Are they learning enough instruments?  Do I need to teach them some languages?  Should they be going on more playdates?

After that training – I’m now thinking to myself – are they fed?  Do they have clothes to wear?  Are they getting to bed on time?  Are they reading and doing their school homework?  But most importantly – are they loved?  Are they loved? Are they loved?  I can categorically say, yes to all of those questions.

And I am happy to say, that I pronounce myself bloody well good enough!  All the other stuff – it doesn’t even matter.  If I want my children to remember two things about their children, it’s that they felt happy and extremely loved.

What more could anyone ask for?