Three more sleeps until my birthday now. A small part of me feels there is something wrong with not having organised a party, a get-together, an anything at all. 40 is one of those big deals, right? But I'll be curled up by the fire with a book for most of the day, will maybe take my family out for a hot drink and cake sometime in the afternoon. Start on a new book when I return. Warren will buy us Subway for dinner, with some hot chips to fill the babies up, so that I don't have to cook. It will mimic most of my other grown-up birthdays, and in all the space and quietness my family will provide for me for that day, I will be satisfied.
Dictionary.com defines 'enough' to mean adequate for the want or need; sufficient for the purpose or to satisfy desire. As I stood at my kitchen bench this afternoon chopping onions for dinner, the committee in my head began their obsessive ruminating. They were fretting over my dwindling blog popularity and the lack of clarity I have for the future; they were sad over how my childrens' childhood is nearing its end and that I haven't been the kind of mother or done the kind of things I always dreamed I would be or do; they were trying to work out how I was going to get one child to tap class at 5:30pm, while needing to feed another dinner at 5:40; they were forgetting the cheese and tomato on toast I had popped in the oven so long ago it would soon start to burn; they were wondering what the hell kind of story it is that I am living and who the hell kind of person I am in living it. Nothing is ever enough for that committee, even if they could agree on what enough meant. I am never enough.
And so I fired them. After almost forty years of listening to their incessant clamour, their constant dissatisfaction, I withdrew my permission to have them live in my head and cursed their impossible expectations to very bottom of the River Styx. May they drown there and never torment another soul, living or dead.
If I believe anything, I believe that there is wisdom, profundity, joy, grace, tragedy, and loss in the smallest, most ordinary of lives. I wish we could all know these stories about ourselves, our neighbours, their neighbours, but the fact that we probably won't doesn't take away from their worth. It's something I wish I could tell my father, who died almost 18 years ago now, having lived an ordinary life with an ordinary job earning ordinary money to pay his ordinary bills. At the last minute it all fell down on him, and he died an angry and bitter man. I don't know, but I suspect that he thought it had all been in vain. He was wrong. The ripples of his life are still slowly moving through our family, not always recognised, but always there. I'm glad for them. In many ways that matter, they are enough. He was certainly enough.
When I started this version of my blog, it was as a visual and written journal of my everyday life, but I lost courage as I lost readers and as I lost friends, and I tried, vainly, desperately, unsuccessfully, to transform back into The Girl with a Thousand Blog Hits. It was as understandable as it was daft. My original vision was the true one, and one I am returning to as a birthday present to myself. No categories. No projects. No clever ideas. Just the daily story of one small life.
I am sure I have not heard the last of that committee in my head, they will rise from the dead and organise a movement to petition their right to return. I am not afraid of them. I know them for the liars they always were. They might take the measure of my worth by the public heights I reach in my life, but I will take it by the amount of days that I show up. Show up to chop those onions, to drive that child, to write that friend. And in that showing up I am certain, I have faith in, I truly believe that I will learn the goodness, patience, and kindness I have always wanted for myself. An ordinary life it may be, but in that ordinary hides something that is also, I think, just a little bit magnificent.