“If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise.” ~ Robert Fritz.
“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – J.K. Rowling
I read a tweet first thing today that went something like this:
Great day. Awesome yoga class this morning, now sitting in airport lounge at JFK enjoying a drink. Nice!
Such a seemingly innocuous, harmless little tweet.
But at 5am in the morning, in the dark, it was like a red rag to a bull for me.
When was the last time I sat quietly enjoying a drink in anticipation of a flight somewhere? Or actually made it to a yoga class? Why can’t I just decide to jet off and have the points or credit card to do the whole lounge thing?
Ooh, I was suddenly really, really MAD. Mad with frustration and envy. Mad because I had things holding me down. Mad because I know I have a violent unlived life bubbling away under the crust of my day to day.
And I found myself feeling mad at my kids.
If I didn’t have kids I would be SO much richer. I would be having sex all the time. I could leave nice things that were breakable on shelves below eye level. I could lie on the sofa and read a book during the day on a weekend without feeling guilty about my husband having to clothe/bath/feed/entertain/perform damage limitation/counsel/bandage up/prise apart…whatever.
I could actually have one of those movie mornings where I wake up in a fresh white linen bed, passionately kiss my man, romp, eat breakfast and drink hot, fresh coffee while poring over the papers, romp some more, then emerge for a walk somewhere bracing and picturesque.
I was mad…suddenly all I could see were seemingly childless women everywhere on Twitter. Doing retreats. Slipping off to yoga and then curling up with a book at night. Leaping off to conferences and tweeting madly from Vegas over too much champagne.
In my moment of Mad, it didn’t matter to me that these women might have kids, or in fact be miserable. Or that they might trade everything to have a gurgling bundle of chubbly baby in their arms. All I felt was twisting, angry jealousy that I was squeezing every inch of writing I could into the dark, cold hours of morning before my day became a muddy fingerpainting of food and nappies and cleaning up toys and putting away the HUGE baskets of laundry that three children somehow manifest.
A full two coffees later, and The Mad had gratefully eased off a little. I realised that I was mad at a much bigger, messier picture.
What was I really envying? The travel? Yes. The connections and me-times and networking? Absolutely.
But these things are not about my children. *big sigh full of love.*
They are about giving myself permission.
I could go on a retreat. I just don’t allow myself because it wouldn’t be fair to leave the children with my husband on his weekend off.
I could fly somewhere, anywhere. I just don’t because there are few places I would ever want to go without my family to come along and enjoy the ride, and buying five plane tickets is crazy expensive.
And that movie morning thing? I could so totally make that happen if I wanted to. (And if the movie morning thing turned into pile of kids on the bed, sitting on the papers and spilling scrambled egg all over the duvet, then that could still be fun.)
Because the truth behind The Mad is this:
You don’t have to have kids to have a handbrake holding you back from what you give yourself permission to do. It’s just that kids make the challenge to negotiate through the chaos greater.
Kids are massive, volcanic calls to action. They summon you out of your slumber (literally and metaphorically!) and shake your arse in the air, screaming “Do something now! Make it important! Leave me a legacy! If you want it, JUST MAKE the time!”
Because with kids you have no choice. You have to want it so bad that you stay up, like Gary Vee, until 3am to make it happen. You have to properly decide it’s worth doing and then give yourself permission to do it, without guilt.
So for all you women out there living a relatively hand-brake free life, I say this – you have so much freedom. Don’t forget to give yourself the permission to do what your freedom so blissfully allows you to do.
And I’ll keep working on giving myself the permission to do even more.
What parts of your unlived life are begging to be let loose? What thing do you most want to do that only needs you to say “yes”? Can you give yourself – today – the permission to do one secretly haboured, magnificent thing?