It was my Mums birthday last week, so I took her out for lunch and afterwards we sat in the car park of a chi-chi little deli in a barn and talked about me. My favorite subject!
This wise woman told me that I was driving myself bonkers living according to my very own set of self-inflicted rules. That though I might romanticize every aspect of my pretty little life and re-label rules as routines and rituals, my rigidity and determination to stick to some of my madder ideas meant that I was essentially ruling myself with an iron fist battering me daily into submission.
Ugh. I was temporarily outraged. The cheek of it coming from a lady who eats the same dinner every night! And then because I am her daughter and I know she only ever tells me things which might (or might not) be true, I agreed that eating a fancy pants dinner and dessert every night when really my whole being is yearning for nothing more than a bowl of cereal is downright ludicrous not only because it takes time to organise and cook, but also because it is making me fat and contributing to the carb-ocide threatening my health.
And my evening meal is just the tip of the iceberg. There are the sleep rules, the morning rules, the TV rules, the laundry rules, the Brocantehome rules, the baking rules, the Finn rules and oh so many more. In fact I have a list of “mustn’ts” and “must do’s” as long as my arm.
I am a walking bucket of preposterous maxim’s and hell’s bells if it isn’t exhausting! And such a depressing bummer when I let myself down as I so frequently do. You see though it simply isn’t and cannot be true, I like to believe that I am in charge of the whole wide world so when things happen that I cannot control (like the downtime on Brocante this week!), I nearly lose my marbles and and as a result tighten the screws on the routines and rituals that keep me sane. You see I have just never quite managed to embrace the “delicious ambiguity” that Gilda Radner once spoke of…
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”
So there we were: me and My Mum, admiring the two darling little cocker spaniels sitting outside the barn, arguing about which one we would take home if we could and agreeing that the path to my survival involves Aldi’s chocolate cereal and a resolution to go easy on myself. To forgive myself when things go wrong, as they sometimes will and to practice a more casual approach to life, that won’t involve smacking myself around the head with a frying pan whenever life behaves outrageously or my tummy declares a passion for a meal Martha Stewart would not approve of.
Routines and rituals may be the mainstay of life as a Vintage Housekeeper, but they, like every other kind of rule are apparently made to be broken. For delicious ambiguity and disaster very rarely threaten our lives and choosing oats over omelette won’t bring our lives to a grinding standstill. Quelle surprise! Quel dommage that I never realized this until the grand old age of 41 and a half….
Thank heavens for Mums.