I guess you could say that I have the tendency to get a little obsessive.
Which can be fine when it’s being obsessed with making the perfect macarons, trying a new recipe every day, or exploring new cuisines. I once had the exact same breakfast every morning for about four years. (Yes, I have a lot of obsessions that revolve around food). If I ever got obsessed with having the cleanest house in the world I’m sure no-one would ever complain, and obsessing about having a perfectly ordered kitchen isn’t a problem either. Discovering a new band and then listening to them obsessively every day for six and a half years might be a little annoying but there are iPods for that and I’m usually alone in the car, so that’s okay too. Refusing to miss one of their gigs, or those of the lead singer (now solo), is also cool because my Husband loves their music too and is always up for some live music.
Then there are the obsessions that can sometimes be a little problematic. Namely one in particular. I have mentioned previously that I got so absorbed in blogging about my life that I felt I was almost forgetting to enjoy it, to really live it and be present. Then there was the post in which I referred to some people in my life who I felt had hurt me, and to say that has caused major problems is a massive understatement. While I don’t regret that post, (despite it being referred to as “a verbal spray disguised as a blog”), was this the place to light that particular fuse?
So in trying to find just the right balance I find myself asking: how much is too much?
One positive example of obsessing that comes to mind is my continued fascination with all things pregnancy, birth, and the amazing creature that is the newborn. I have reluctantly, and very sadly, accepted that I will never be a midwife, yet I continue to buy and read midwifery and obstetrics textbooks. Yes, I said textbooks. Though when I look back at the birth of my youngest child, it was an obsession that seems to have paid off when I was blessed with the opportunity to have the exact birth experience I wanted. I don’t mean simply natural over intervention or anything that broad. I’m talking the exact day, the exact time of his birth, the contractions beginning exactly at the hour that I wanted them to. Picturing in my mind, from the second the stick turned positive, catching his warm chubby little body with my own hands. Pushing the midwives hands away to do just that. Was I obsessed? I guess every pregnant woman thinks more and more about the birth the closer it gets, but I spent countless hours picturing it. So yeah, I’d call that obsessed.
What about being obsessed with being the perfect parent? Does such a thing even exist? According to the endless stream of books, magazines, blogs, and “experts”, the answer seems to be yes. As long as you follow their advice, buy their books or magazines, and are happy ticking points off a very long list. Are we, as a society, obsessively over-thinking parenting? Without question. Just the fact that there are descriptions such as “tiger” parents and “helicopter” parents indicates that things are getting ridiculous. The term “mummy bloggers”, recently joined by growing numbers of “daddy bloggers”, would indicate that our fascination with how we are raising our children is growing more all the time. (I wonder who will be the first “baby blogger”?) How on earth did our ancestors manage to raise intelligent, well adjusted children without Dr Spock telling them what was okay? It’s little wonder that the grandparents of today will talk about the way their grandchildren are being raised while wearing a very wry smile. Just the other day a new first time grandmother I met seemed genuinely baffled by the notion that her month old grandson needs a $150 bouncer (rocker). Or that his mother read to him while in utero. (The baby being in utero that is, not the mother. Obviously.) And I’m not sure that the never ending raft of information aimed at helping us raise better children is all that helpful. Does it give us the occasional nugget of helpful advice? Certainly. Does it more often give us anxiety, especially as first time parents? Definitely. Is it all insanely obsessive? For sure.
In a perfect world we would balance things… well… perfectly. But it’s not a perfect world after all, so we spend hours on social media when we should be cleaning the house, we work long hours to build a better life for the children that we suddenly have very little time to spend with, or we spend hours perfecting a macaron when we should really be blogging about it.
I have been getting better at it all lately though. I have been very conscious of devoting more time to us as a family, even if it’s just watching a movie together or having a chat on the porch while catching some Autumn sun. And it feels really good. It’s also interesting to note that when I step away from social media for some time, I can’t help noticing how boring it really is.
So, to sum up. Food obsessions: okay. Anything that makes you feel guilty: not good.
So go have a macaron or two with your loved ones. Everything else can wait.