I’ll make it quick
This is the story of how I came to tell my parents I was pregnant at not-quite-fifteen years old. It’s also the story of my life since then – how I turned out to be fabulously balanced, a single mother who really loves her life. I also do a mean lasagne. Did I mention the fabulous thing?
It’s not a tragic cautionary tale of a Good Girl Gone Bad or even of Bad Girl Made Good… It’s just a little story of changes and adjustment, of love and destiny. It’s just my story. That should be good enough, I reckon.
Although I’ve always known I would write this (it’s the creative equivalent of the Kellogg’s All Bran Two-Week Challenge – with prunes), I could never find the words (nor the guts) to do so. It’s just all so hard to express without sounding melodramatic and trite, or descending into girlish self-absorption. Heaven forbid the syrupy sort of Barbara Taylor Bradford “triumph against the odds” tale. It was never like that. I’d be lying if I told you it was.
There are lots of things I can tell you. I could tell you what you’d like to hear. I could tell you what you may expect me to say. Or I could tell the truth. The truth, of course, is harder, but it’s the only way. Otherwise, what’s the point? Even now, as I sit stuck on page one, where I have been for the past three months, I am suddenly terrified. Staring at this blank white screen, my palms are sweating and I’m suddenly sure, convinced, that I was wrong. What the hell made me think that I have anything to say? Whatever gave me the idea that there’s anyone out there who gives a stuff?
Deep breath. Sip of coffee. The moment passes. I remember that I don’t hate myself anymore and that this is going to be fun. I think I’ll be okay. We shall see. If you’re reading this, then I did it.
I hope I get it right. For as much as this is my story, it’s mine for only part of the way. After a while, it becomes my children’s story too, and they will have to live it in their own way.
Maybe reading this will help all three of us understand what has brought me to where I am today, and what these past years have meant to me. And maybe this is also for anyone who has ever lived a life like mine, or will do so in the future.
Okay, so I’m also doing it for completely selfish reasons. As together and at peace as I tell myself I am, there are still some things that have never really been resolved in my heart, which I have yet to face properly. There’s some scary stuff lurking around, and it’s going to take a lot for me to get through it. If I don’t chicken out, then it will undoubtedly be good for me, perhaps even saving me from years of expensive therapy.
But before we get to the juicy details, let me introduce you:
Who am I?
Ah, one of the big questions, subject of thousands of Cosmo articles and any number of dorky self-help books. It’s a question that drives people to do strange and expensive things, like divorcing their spouses after thirty years to live in the Greek Isles with someone named Stavros. Or Candy. Or both. It’s a question that some people pay other people vast sums of money to answer, while other people never even think of asking it.
I’m lucky. I do know. And I’m happy with the answer. Mostly. I mean, obviously, we’re not talking about stretch marks and cellulite and certain obsessive-compulsive personality traits that could use some work. No, no. I’m talking about the me that has been me since the first time I was aware of being me. It took a long time, but I like her these days. You can make up your own mind, but you don’t have to decide right away.
My name is Tracy (aka Mom-can-I? or Mommy-I-wanna!). I’m twenty-seven years old, and I’m a mommy. I’m a conscientious, if rather plodding worker. I’m not scared of snakes or bugs, but I’m very scared of driving. I’d give anyone else my last Rolo, but I’m still lumpier than I’d like to be. And I can write things that other people seem to enjoy. Not much, but it’s a start. And it’s all true, which has to count for something.
I’m no dynamic career woman. I don’t network or do lunch – I work because I have to. My job does not define me, but I try to do it well. There are times I’d love to beat my boss (or myself) senseless with my stapler, but generally work is not unbearable and does not fill me with black dread when I get up in the mornings. It pays the bills (just), and gives me something to obsess over at 2am when I imagine I’ve made some horrendous mistake that will send the company crashing into bankruptcy.
I’m also no super-mom – I just do my best and hope that’s good enough. So far, it seems to have worked. My children are allowed to watch TV and eat sweets and sleep in my bed. Sometimes, all at the same time. They drink Coke and make a noise but they are good people. They’re growing up well – compassionate, insightful, smart and honest. And if getting there involves lots of Barney or Tomb Raider and sticky chocolate handprints on my sheets, that’s okay.
What about my family?
There’s my mother who is my best friend, my sounding board and my (occasional) metaphorical punching bag. We finish each other’s sentences and argue over who has to make the next cup of tea.
My dad is the one who will say yes to anything, even things I haven’t asked him yet. He doesn’t say much, but I know how he feels. He plays golf. He just loves his golf. But being the kind of dad he is, he long ago stopped trying to explain it to me. He once told me that all men are dogs, and I should avoid brandy and Coke drinkers, because they’re all hooligans. Very wise, my dad.
My sister, Emma, is my other best friend – she’s beautiful, poised and braver than anyone else I know. She’s pregnant with her first bean now and you’d think it was my baby, the amount of gratuitous shopping I’ve been doing. She’s going to be a great mom.
Then there are my children, who are my reason for everything. Steven is nearly thirteen (my God, thirteen? Are you sure?). He’s brilliant and gentle, could sell ice to Eskimos and can quote more Terry Pratchett at you than you’d think humanly possible. He’s good at accents and uses words like “droll” in everyday conversation. He is the one who started it all. And he’s special. He’s on his way to great things and I hope the world is ready for him.
My special girl is Maria, five years old and a diva in training. She’s strong and clever and independent. She’s sweet and she’s got attitude. By the bucketload. People melt at one look into those beautiful blue eyes, at that angelic face. She takes no shit from anyone and has already perfected the art of the dramatic exit (disgusted sigh, scowl, flounce, SLAM!). She’s my Lallie, and I wish I could be more like her.
We have a dog named Ruby, who doesn’t listen to anyone and who, I’m sure, needs some sort of doggy-Prozac. I try to remember how much she loves us when she’s licking my bedroom carpet and eating my socks at 3am.
We also have two rabbits that run around the garden eating Froot Loops, grooming the dog and occasionally escaping onto the pavement. Watch in amazement as the whole family runs up and down the road in our pyjamas trying to herd wild-eyed fugitive bunnies back inside. This is done by means of long sticks and lots of shouting and lunging at fresh air. It must be fun to watch.
So that’s us.
And they all lived together in a crooked little house. Well, not crooked, exactly. And it could use a lick of Ty Pennington (but then, who couldn’t? That man is hot.). A different sort of family, but one that is happier and healthier than any other I know.
So, having said all that, dear reader, here we go. Ready?