It occurred to me today as I put on my New Rocks that I probably owe my mum and dad an apology for turning out as I’ve turned out. I’m not a parent, but everything I’ve read seems to point to parents being pleased if their offspring follow in their footsteps, or are at least happy.
For the longest time I wasn’t even anything remotely approaching happy. It was no one’s fault but that of my own glitchy neurochemical make-up, but it did mean that I felt a total failure to those nearest and dearest to me. I mean, how hard can it really be to just be “happy”?
Very hard as it turns out.
Now, I’ve beaten that particular demon upside the head a few times with a frying pan, so I am happy to say that it’s taken a while, but I think I’ve got there – or at least have my feet firmly on the right path.
And as for following in their footsteps? Well, pah! to that. There’s a hackneyed phrase that would be appropriate right about now. Something to do with hell getting very, very cold…
So yes, I will admit I’m probably something of a disappointment to my parents. Or if not exactly a disappointment, I’m fairly convinced that my mother at least finds it hard to get a handle on me. She’s not quite as in touch with her kooky side as you’d expect from someone who’s lived in Glastonbury for nigh on 30 years.
I can still remember her face the first time I walked through the door in my New Rocks. And the time I cut off all my hair and dyed the remainder purple. Or the time I came home with my first tattoo. And then the second tattoo. Her resigned patience during my long fought campaign to wear nothing but black stays in my mind. Followed by her bemused acceptance of my seemingly abrupt about turn to embrace all colours, including pink. And let’s not forget her confusion when I started wearing skirts and heels after two decades of refusing point-blank to do anything remotely “girly girl”.
For now she seems to have come to terms with the prospect of no grandchildren from either my brother (for whom the phrase “not a sodding cat in hells chance!” was probably invented) or me (a 50/50 split between no inclination and no medical ability) and is dealing remarkably well with my determination to continue the student/single/rental/no-responsbiliies life style as long as feasibly possible.
But I know deep down I know she’d rather I was at least making a move in the direction of settling down with a significant other in tow and the 2.4 on the horizon. Sorry Mum.
Really, I think my parents have only themselves to blame. They raised us to be confident in who we are and to be individuals. I’ve taken the Kemp/Buchanan pig-headed stubbornness and refusal to conform a little bit further than my brother, I will admit, but I like to think I’m being true to my upbringing. As I’ve said before, I grew up in Glastonbury which is arguably the New Age capital of the world. I hadn’t realised quite the influence the place had had on me till the day I walked out of the doctors and had to fight the urge to go buy the appropriate crystal to heal my particular ailment. Even now the smell of incense mixed with a hint of weed, and the sound of a West Country burr cut with Home Counties vowels can instantly transport me home. I think I’m relaxed then I walk down the high street and… something in me unwinds and I really am at peace.
Re-read that last section for me will you?
Really, you need no other clue as to the influence growing up in Somerset had on me. For the child of a “suit” and a bank clerk, I am more than a little… bohemian. Which, as the bohemian in this equation, I find totally cool and more than a little amusing.
We are all the products of our upbringing and I expect my upbringing was no stranger than many – in fact in many ways, it is was as “normal” as they could make it. But I grew up in a town where it’s normal for people to rush across the street and hug total strangers, crying “Happy Solstice!”. My dad lives on a narrow boat. Really, what chance did I have?
So sorry Mum. I know the chances of you ever actually understanding me are somewhere between slim to none, and I know the fact I am blogging this instead of telling you to your face will just add to the confusion, but know I love you. I wish I could be the daughter I think you secretly want but I’m what you’ve got. I am wonderful and I am that way because you gave me the space to be who I wanted to be.
Oh, and I’ve cut all my hair off again.