I want to be the girl with the most cake

I am not a half-and-half person, into half measures; maybe I will, maybe I won’t. I have always been, to my detriment: all in, free pouring to overflowing with another two glasses in sight; if I’m saying I’m going do something, chances are, it’s probably already been done on the sly. I cannot help this malaise and am not sure if I can blame it on the blood, the upbringing or my generation… (no room for failure, only varying degrees of success, fingers in too many pies; the presumption of entitlement with an insatiable thirst for more of everything).

I am a true believer in that promise of having it all; is there another viable option anyone would actually choose? Why? I know I am far from alone in this sentiment.

When I was a teen, shaping the person I thought I would be, I was outraged by the shabby deal women get through life, no matter which part of the world you live in. I decided I would somehow find a way to escape the woman trap of having to choose, of having to compromise, of having to accept biology, history and every society no matter how liberal, progressive and supposedly equal. Through my 20s, I still believed in that future vision, that I could soar in my career and creative ventures, stilettos on, man at side, one child in my handbag and another held by the scruff of the neck with my red lipsticked mouth. I would be a glamour-warrior-tiger-mom-queen and conquer the world. Eyes on the goal, don’t pay attention to what anyone says, just like Madonna. Hah.

For many women, just when everything is getting exciting, when the goal is ever closer in sight, when it’s all falling into place, the fact it is all happening at the same time is the very reason the lie shatters under the weight. Having climbed the ladder, only to discover a sneaky snake waiting at the top. No matter how much you lean in. No matter how much you try to fool it or plot around it. Nature is a fact. It bites. This does not happen to men. At the same stage in life, their worlds change, for sure, but it is not the dramatic pause and reset for them. Despite the wonder of the little miracles… after the violations of the apparently most beautiful 40 weeks of your life and the horror show that follows, lies the discovery that surviving on four hours sleep a day for months on end takes its toll. Hormones are actually a thing. And Ben & Jerry’s and Malbec are more cost and time efficient than therapy. Then there is the over-enthusiastic race back to work, to prove your brain hasn’t rotted into mulch. And just when you are starting to believe in that yourself, it’s time to do it all again. And maybe again depending on how bad your amnesia is.

Add all that up, it can be several years of being this other thing, a baby maker, new mummy, working mum, leaping between guilty mother and ever-apologetic colleague, before you wake up one Sunday and realise… oh, you have morphed into this other person. How did that happen? Who the hell are you? Vaguely familiar to someone you used to know, but faded, muted, an echo of what was there before. Even Madonna was a bit quieter after mummydom.

2019 was my year of trying to grab it all back. It was time to heave myself up that ladder again. Back at work with a vengeance, determined to write the novel, get moving, finish a sentence uninterrupted, eat a meal while it was still hot and do up the top button on those pre-preggo skinny jeans.

Writing the teen novel this year helped me rediscover the defiant spirit of the punk rocker I once was, the joys of blue nail varnish and just not caring as much about other people’s opinions. Work flourished and I rediscovered my highest heels. But it came at a cost. I also discovered not everything can be at full throttle. You cannot put 200% into everything and expect to win. I did not build in a buffer for health or exhaustion or losses or grief or having to surrender to anything into my annual plan. All those things you are supposed to do, must do, the things expected of you – I could not do it all. Hence the semi-social media blackout amongst a whole host of other remisses. The demands of just existing with whatever life throws up thwarted my timelines and made me reassess. Real life happens. We are not machines. Or glamour-warrior-tiger-mom-queens. We are merely human.

And so, as 2020 begins, I have decided to be gentler. This thing of having it all… I realise, I do have it all, it just doesn’t look the way my 14 year old self pictured it. Having my cake and eating it, is me and my family happy, healthy and making it through to Saturday breakfast pancakes. Anything more is truly spectacular and should be regarded as such. No doubt this will evolve as those little people get older, but right now, what we have is pretty super fantastic.

Somehow I finished writing the book, it’s ready to be unleashed. Now I am stoking the melting pot for the next one. And I believe this will be the way of my life ad infinitum. The real goal for this new year? Taking the time to enjoy more of this, all of this beautiful life we have created. Once upon a time, this was just a dream too.

What about you? What’s your wish for 2020? I’d love to know in the comments below or send me a message.

Sending best wishes to you and all you hold dear. x

Copyright 2020 Joon Haque. All rights reserved.