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Can We Actually Have It All?

When it comes to making lists, I’m a complete nut job; I’ve been known to leave a note to remind myself to “make a list.” There’s something slightly sadistic and deranged about that. Mock me. My husband does. In my quest to do it all, I’m delusional in believing that writing out a detailed list of what I have to accomplish each week, and ticking the items off, will make me a better person which will magically equate to a more fulfilling life. At the start of every new year, I wake with magnificent resolutions which include (but are not limited to) the following: start exercising to eliminate post-babies paunch (formerly known as waist); morph into saucy minx and rock my husband’s world, figure out what I want to be when I grow up, have the guts to follow my dreams, spend more quality time with my children, return phone calls in a timely manner (translation: before a full year passes), find out how to keep a houseplant alive for more than three weeks (not including cacti), get all photos into albums, update baby journals, clean out cupboards to avoid massive trauma to the head, finish basement, paint bathroom, eat more vegetables, take vitamins, and be a better person in general, particularly to that one person who makes me want to coil into a ball and play dead whenever we’re in the same vicinity.

Let’s get right to the burning question, shall we? The one I ask myself while sorting dirty laundry, visualizing my husband’s castration as it’s apparent he’s physically unable to turn his filthy, mangy socks inside out before tossing them towards, not in, the hamper basket. The question is this —can we actually have it all?Or is it considered unforgivable to want more when we’ve already been blessed with plenty? While wiping the snot and spaghetti sauce from my daughter’s beaming, “I-just-pooped-my-diaper-too” face, I often find myself drenched in melancholy while lamenting the loss of dreams yet to be fulfilled. And I wonder — when your dreams turn to dust, when they’ve successfully been snuffed out by years of making a living and monotonous chores, what becomes of them? If I stopped long enough to have an intimate chat with my inner child, to ask her what it was she wanted again, I’m not even certain I would know which questions to ask anymore. And quite frankly, I’m scared of her. That little girl would lay me out flat, outraged by how far I’ve strayed from what I wanted to be when I grew up. For the record, let it be said that I wanted to be a criminal psychologist. I ended up being an agricultural economist. Hell, at least they rhyme. That’s a start. I ended up pursuing the latter because I knew it would make my parents proud. I grew up on a farm and my love for agriculture courses through my veins; perhaps

not enough to foster a burning desire to farm with five brothers, though. In some cases, the high risk of insanity trumps preference. But I likely ended up being one of the very few aggie students that used all course electives to pursue my love for psychology. While my friends were learning how to weld and inseminate a sow, two skills for which I have no idea how I’ve gotten this far in life without, I was in the throes of passion over psychology. My transcript reads like a woman on a mission to systematically destroy her brain: linear economic modelling, child psychology, price analysis, microeconomics, genetic analysis, macroeconomics, abnormal psychology, econometrics, financial accounting, social psychology, applied statistics.

For what it’s worth, I think we can have it all — just maybe not all at once. I often struggle with having choices, or not enough, with following one path without ignoring another, with being a good mother while attempting to maintain a career. It’s a delicate balance — that of being immensely grateful for what we’ve been given while questioning whether or not we should go for more. I’m starting to think that life is a series of conflicts. It starts with little things, like being told that you’re too big to carry your security blanket around. It gets folded up and put away in the closet. You stand alone against the world for the first time, feeling awkward and vulnerable. Then you’re told not to put your elbows on the table while you’re eating. Well, why not? It’s far more comfortable to do so and it’s a foolproof way to guard your food from your siblings. It moves on to being told to act normal, to stop talking so loud and being so pushy. Why shouldn’t we fight for what we believe in? Then we’re told that if we ever want to be taken seriously, then we better stop fooling around. What about the hazards of taking yourself so seriously that you forget how to laugh? Maybe these conflicts are necessary functions of growth; they force you to take a stand and believe in something.

If you’ve reached that point in your life where you feel there’s something you want to go after, then go for it. And if you can’t find the will to do it for yourself, then do it for your children. Do it so you can look them in the eye one day and boldly say that you lived your life with no excuses or apologies. That you grabbed it by the horns, stared adversity in the face and came out smiling. The worst thing that can happen is someone says no. Or someone tells you they think it’s a silly idea. Big deal. Thank them for their profoundfeedback and move on. The most important thing is that you get out there and show up for the game — so what if someone tells you they don’t want you on their team? We’ve all heard that little chestnut on the playground before and lived to tell about it. Find another park. After all, it’s your one and only shot.

JanitaVandeVeldegrewuponafarmnear Mariapolis,Man.Sheholdsabachelorof sciencedegreeinagriculturaleconomics fromtheUniversityofManitoba.Shelivesin Regina,Sask.,withherhusbandRoddyand theirchildrenJackandIsla.Herfirstnovel, PostcardsNeverWritten,wastherecipient oftheSaskatchewanReader’sChoiceAward andalsolistedbyCBCasoneofthetopfunny booksin2009.Formoreinformation,ortoorder herbook,visitherwebsiteat www.janita.ca.

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I grew up on a farm and my love for agriculture courses through my veins; perhaps not enough to foster a burning desire to farm with five brothers, though

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