Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Vanilla: a perspective

The Husband is creative and artistic. I am logical, and methodical. He's never been interested in vanilla. Hasn't really ever thought about it, in fact. For me, vanilla means being safe and blending in and avoiding awkward questions. He's all about living your unique life. Where I've always had a tendency to lean more towards the blending.

Right from the start, we were anything but vanilla.

Rob  decided to follow his dream of becoming an architect one year before we got married. While all my colleagues were marrying their working-for-five-years-already husbands, I had to confess that my husband was a full-time student. I worked and supported us for the next five years. Our dream was to travel. So while our peers bought lovely 3-bedroom starter homes, we bought a matchbox-sized townhouse with blue nylon carpets, and lived on pasta and bread. We backpacked through Europe, staying in youth hostels while our friends furnished their homes and got on with the business of being grown ups. We celebrated anniversaries in exotic locations. Zanzibar. Victoria Falls. We stayed in a dive camp in Mozambique where I got so sick with a stomach bug that I couldn't move for two days. We stayed in forest tree houses, and mountain chalets and off-the-beaten track cosy, romantic places. We took advantage of every holiday, every long weekend to explore. Our upstairs neighbours were inhumanely inconsiderate and our walls were a dirty-cream colour. Truly awful. But we were stockpiling memories, and were happy with our trade-off.

And then Rob graduated, got a job (vanilla at last!) and we were finally ready for a family. And while all our friends around us fell pregnant, we didn't. But we kept on hoping, and believing, and eventually it happened. And we grew up a bit and renovated the matchbox. We had our daughter, and she was beautiful. Miraculous.

We moved out of the matchbox into this place. A bigger, better, brighter place with a garden.   We went on a family holiday to Mauritius, where we spent a week in a dreamy bubble of happiness. We furnished our house. We bought a new car.

And I thought: we are totally rocking vanilla.

**

It's two years later. My daughter will be turning four in three months, and with this comes the constant barrage of questions about number two. When, how, why have you waited so long? Assumptions, and full-on body blow judgements that leave me reeling. Like the time a random person delivered the gem about what an injustice I'm doing my child, by not giving her a sibling. How we are doing her in. It went on but you get the picture.

I have learned so many things over the years of taking the road less travelled. Most importantly, that there really is no such thing as vanilla. Each family, couple, person is on a journey uniquely set apart. Grieving the loss of a dream is natural. Necessary. But on the other side of that lies the reality that obsessing about the things we don't have only steals our joy in the things we do have.

My non-vanilla journey has shaped who I am, refined me, beaten me down and helped me back up. Through it, I continue to learn acceptance. Peace. The joy of celebrating small things.





A Barbie manicure. For me, not her. She'd been dying to paint my nails all week.











Add a set of wings and a fairy skirt, and we're twirling our way along our chocolate-swirled, rainbow-sprinkled and sometimes rocky, road.

3 comments:

Nathalie Williams said...

This is my favourite post to date! Being 39, single and childless, I can totally relate to not being vanilla. I was always so self-conscious and even a little ashamed of not being like everyone else. You're so right about how obsessing about what you don't have sucks all the joy out of what you do have. I do tend to focus on what's wrong or missing in my life, so I tend to take for granted the great blessings I do have. Thanks for the reminder! :-)

Nathalie Williams said...

This is my favourite post to date! Being 39, single and childless, I can totally relate to not being vanilla. I was always so self-conscious and even a little ashamed of not being like everyone else. You're so right about how obsessing about what you don't have sucks all the joy out of what you do have. I do tend to focus on what's wrong or missing in my life, so I tend to take for granted the great blessings I do have. Thanks for the reminder! :-)

Melanie said...

I love this post and you're absolutely right - we each have to do the best we can when we can. xx