Shade

We are in the middle of a scorching heatwave here on the shores of Lac Leman, and I am coming up to my 35th birthday. I have often found the onset of birthdays to be a time of reflection, assessment, consolidation and reconciliation. Except, perhaps, from 1980 until around 1986, when the majority of time on the lead up to my birthday was spent praying for the latest Barbie, the coolest pair of rollerskates, or some “Twilight Teaser” lipstick (well, what can I say? Having an older sister enters you into the world of make up at a ludicrously young age…)

So there are just over two weeks to go until the big day….and this week has been a tough one. The dreadful financial situation we, as a family, have been in for some years seems to be reaching a head, and it now seems that, despite fighting hard against the tide for what feels like an eternity, bankruptcy seems to be our only option. I know that there is no major stigma to it these days, however, it is hardly something I am proud of. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for “life experiences” that enrich me and go some way to make me a more rounded, knowledgeable and empathetic human being. But let’s just say that this was NOT on my tick list…

In fact, yesterday was quite a “significant” day for me. The earlier part of the morning was spent discussing bankruptcy with our representatives in the UK. The latter part of the morning was spent in the local AVS office here in Villeneuve (this is similar to Social Security in the UK), explaining that, “Yes, I am a concubine. No, no intentions to marry. But yes, I have two children. Yes, I DO live with the father,” and “No, I don’t have any fortune. That’s right, no money at all. None.” I would hardly describe it as my finest hour.

So I am about to hit 35 with another “colourful life experience”, called bankruptcy, under my belt. And it leads me to reflect upon my life, the decisions I have made that got me to this point, and where it is that I am going.

Do I regret any decisions? Honestly? Not really. I might have stuck out my marriage a little longer, but essentially I think it would have had the same outcome in the long run. Do I regret overspending all that cash? Are you kidding? Have you SEEN my photos of Borneo? I jest. A little.

Where IS it that I am going? Well, I know where I am now. I am in our living room, the shutters down and the fan on full blast, shielding my two little ones from the scorching heat outside. They have just had a nap, and are now coming around to the “Basil Brush Show”, clutching their bottles of “nice-cold-ice-cold”. That’s milk to you and me.

And in this little, enclosed, darkened family space that protects just me and my kids, I take some time away from the world and I ask, “Am I successful? What is “success” anyway?”

I have two beautiful, happy and healthy children. Yes, anyone (or most people) can procreate. But how many of those people can truly parent? I think it is the most difficult job in the world, certainly the most difficult thing that I have ever tried to do and I spend the majority of my day striving to make a success of it. I teach them, I play with them, I give them as many varied experiences as I can think of, and most importantly of all, I love them with all my heart.

And no, I don’t have any money, but thanks to Jase’s hard work, our kids are well-fed, clothed, live in a comfortable home and have some very pretty things. For my part, I try to be the “backbone” and the “engine-room” of our little family.

Of course, there is hopefully time to make my fortune. There is hopefully time to leave my career as “concubine” behind.

For now, I am going to raise the blinds and let the sunshine stream back into our lives. I will sit on the terrace in the evening light, with my two hungry children and Marmite soldiers, little bitesize chunks of cucumber and tomato and some little crisps shaped like teddy bears.

The sun will start to descend on our day as we eat and chat, the light forever changing. Nothing else seems to matter right now.

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