The other day, my husband and two kids staged an intervention.
It was over breakfast. Sunday breakfast to be exact.
If I can be arsed, on a Sunday morning, I have been known to get up and make pancakes for the whole family. Somehow, with my bleary eyes and not-yet-caffeinated consciousness, I manage to whip up a batter and painstakingly fry up mini rounds of deliciousness whilst also gathering syrupy toppings, neatly chopping fruit (futile, nobody will eat it), umpiring brotherly feuds, infinitely folding washing and wishing I'd got up earlier to get some yoga in.
But by the time we all sit down on the living room floor around our 'Sofra' (basically, a Turkish word for indoor picnic blanket, equivalent to an English dining table) and Sunday is clawing at us with its persistent intentions of wholesome outdoor activities and / or at some point actually getting dressed, it all seems worthwhile. There is golden syrup and chocolate spread and steaming coffee and a stack of pancakes that would make the chicest little bistro green with envy.
We feel like we've got it made. It is in these moments that some of the adversities we've faced as a family over the years whisper at my shoulder. All the times we've had to spend apart due to illness, visas, grief, money and the damned inconvenience of combining two different nations in one little family, come washing over me and I feel in my very bones the warmth of gratitude that we can finally eat like this together. Together. In one room. Enjoying pancakes.
So when my three much-loved men edged in closely together, announcing that they had something they wanted to talk to me about, that gratitude was dowsed momentarily with a shower of doubt. My husband, despite having been at my side for over twelve years now, still has a knack of using a tone I just can't decipher. Is it serious? Is it playful? Is there even a glimmer of a smile that might give me a clue?
That devastatingly long black hair and the infinite depth of his brown eyes never help in the whole, "I'm sure he's just kidding" kind of approach. He could death stare the whole cast of My Little Pony into torturous oblivion given half a chance.
Anyway, there they were, my men, nudged in shoulder-to-shoulder, looking at me gravely and leaving the adequate dramatic pause after the "we need to talk" statement, just so there was sufficient chance for all of the seemingly appropriate (but fucking stupid) feminine fears to fleetingly rear each of their ugly heads like demonic meerkats.
Are the pancakes shit?
Is my hair a mess?
Have we run out of money?
Have I been shouting too much?
Is the PS4 about to explode?
Is the house a shit hole?
Am I a crap mum?
Have I put on weight?*
The death-staring husband added . . . "And with what we're about to say, we want you to keep an open mind, ok? Don't react too quickly. We just want to say what we've got to say and we want you to consider it. Calmly." The Lads nodded and echoed in urgent, purposeful whispers.
Well a mindfulness teacher I may be, but the minute somebody tells you to keep an open mind, the stakes are well and truly upped. This shit is primitive. I was primed.
I gulped back a huge swig of coffee and waited.
"The things is . . ." the hubby began.
"Since we've moved here to Devon from the North East . . . " continued Big Lad.
"We've noticed, well. that you've started to become a . . . " Little Lad bravely went on.
"Hippie." They all said triumphantly.
A smile burst across my face.
"No. no it's serious." The husband chimed in. "The Lads came to me with this and they're honestly worried about it. It's serious. We think you are now a hippy."
The tension flowed out of my body and I hugged my coffee mug a little harder. The smile was still there.
Big Lad explained and started ticking things off on his fingers. "We can see it in everything you do. Since we've moved here you've had your hair lots of different colours."
"Yes, yes," Little Lad piped up, "you meditate too much AND I've seen you hug a tree."
"You call yourself a feminist and you even wear t-shirts that tell everyone that's what you are. It's so embarrassing."
"And you can't just take us to the beach like a normal mum. You have to get all weird and get all grateful and stuff."
"And you're into 'body positivity' and 'kindness and compassion'." Big Lad said them as if they were dirty words.
"And mindfulness." A wince.
"And yoga." A grimace.
"And self-care." A whole-body-shudder.
"And BREATHING! Honestly, what's the big deal about BREATHING?" They both shook their fists in frustration at the sheer audacity breathing had to exist.
This was wonderful.
Basically, my Lads were parroting back to me all the things I'd carefully cultivated since moving to the South West three years ago. Sure, I picked them up and brushed them off long before that, but once we moved and started a new life as a family, I've not only held them, but run with them. Run with them so hard that my Lads had obviously noticed. Good.
What my Lads (and potentially my hubby) don't know is that I have waited YEARS for this. As a little girl I probably was more hippy than you could ever call me now. Aren't all children? All kids want really is a peaceful, happy life with enough space to be themselves. To have fun. To daydream. To explore. To create. To make noise. To experiment. To not conform. To love and be loved.
And over the years I was growing up, a privileged position though it was, I slowly, slowly lost much of that. Confidence was sapped with the need to please others. Creativity slowly ground to a virtual halt. Curiosity quelled by rules and limitations. That wild and buoyant little girl turned into an obedient and - to be honest - subservient young woman.
I like to think that people can only be that way for so long before their authentic and savage selves start clawing for attention. How and when that comes out is anybody's guess but for me it all started with a heartbreak that happened 14 years ago. Thank god for it. Without falling that low I could never have climbed so high.
And the heights of my 'hippiness' might not look that impressive to anybody else. But to me they are worth celebrating.
For somebody who used to shrink into the corner at uni seminars to allow all the 'more intelligent' people to speak, I am now staging author's talks, workshops and events.
For somebody who never showed a soul what she wrote in her little notebooks, I am now enjoying being a published author.
For somebody who used to focus all her energies on keeping her ex-partners happy, I am now in a level and soulful relationship that has inspired me on so many levels.
For somebody who never chased her own interests because it was more important to prioritise others, I am now practicing yoga and mindfulness every day.
For somebody who let food, exercise and weight rule her daily life for more years than I like to admit, I am now deep in body positivity and recognising and respecting my body for the incredible vessel that it is.
For somebody who never thought she'd 'crack' being a mother, I am now - over Sunday morning pancakes - explaining to my kids why I am, arguably, a hippie.
And do you know what?
I couldn't be happier about it.
*Yes, I know, I know - I fully endorse body positivity and that's why I'm trying to be honest here. I'm still blighted by the demands of society and the lies I've (we've all) been told since I was a little girl that thin = good and fat = very, very bad. I'm still on my journey and I'm mostly a proper, full-on, body acceptance kinda gal these days, but in this moment when my unconscious mind flew in before my wiser self could, the 'oh no I must be fat and that means I'm an awful person!' attitude got a very, very brief reprise. Believe me, I'm working on it.
P.S. If you liked this blog post and want to read more, scroll up to the top of this page, click the 'Sign-Up' button and follow just a couple of easy instructions. You'll then become a site member and get a happy little message in your inbox each time I write a new post. Welcome aboard! xxx