Unhelpful Festive Social Comparisons

It is officially Christmas in less than a week and so we are officially in the full swing of things now as we count down the days. Christmas comes with many things, sending Christmas cards and gifts (often to people you never say two words to at any other time of the year!), carolling, and more importantly to this blog – comparing ourselves to everyone who matters!

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During Christmas time being with lots of people is inevitable and so it is human nature that we are going to start to compare ourselves and our achievements to those of those people around us. There are of course those lovely people (usually older family members, or the less sympathetic parents) that feel it is their duty to highlight just how well our second cousin Ginny is doing in her new six figure jet setting career on the other side of the world… But I think that we can all agree, that this kind of social comparison is just simply not helpful nor healthy!

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As much as I would love to have the perfect life that I have spent my life dreaming up and concocting inside my head, simply put I don’t. I definitely do not have that perfect life. If six year old Emmie were to look at my life now then she would sit and sob for hours after locking herself in the bathroom….(I did that a lot, sorry Mum!). But that doesn’t mean that my life isn’t a happy one!

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Sure, there are down sides (lots) and there are always going to be negative periods and people in my life that only want to bring me down or make me miserable (plenty this year thank you very much 2016!) but I am proud of the life I am living. This time last year, thanks to my anxiety I could not be left alone in a room for more than a few minutes without panicking and either reaching for the phone or going to find someone to sit with me. I was stuck in relationships and friendships that were doing nothing but drain me and was generally miserable.

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But now? I am living alone and renting my own place where I pay my own bills. I have my own car and have a gorgeous bunny called Gimli and adorable little tortoise called Flash to take care of. Point is, life is what you make it and despite the shit storm of naff-ness that has descended my life in 2016 I have certainly made the best of it which I something that I am keeping in mind when others start to make these pesky comparisons.

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No matter what people tell you about other people in your life remember this, you have a long and unpredictable life ahead of you and this is certainly not “it” for you! There is plenty of time left for you to do whatever you want to do. As cringey and cliché as it may appear there is an awful lot of truth in it! As long as you have a goal of what you want to achieve, it doesn’t mean that you’ve failed if you aren’t already there. So hey, when good old Granny is boasting about your lovely older cousin Jeff, why not be happy for him and raise a glass? After all, it could be your successes that she’s doing everybody’s tits in with next year…

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“Single Parent Families Will Fail”!?

As we are still inexplicably under a Tory government, I have heard this statement far too often. The attitude that we should look down on single parent families and that they should almost be punished for daring to not fit the confines of the nuclear family. I am here to go on the record to say screw that. Such a narrow minded and cold attitude to such a complex matter is not only immature, but it is naïve and irresponsible as well – and should certainly not be one held by some of the most powerful people in the country!11695817_10153522772506060_8575958169552876715_n

A single parent family does not have to mean single Mum living in a council house that she has always dreamed of, claiming off the dole and scrounging the government out of every penny that she can for all of her eight kids! The conservatives seem to have developed an almost cartoon like portrayal of working class families, which sadly seems to include single parents.

Single parent families are not necessarily always a bad thing, and certainly do not have to mean that either parent was incapable or irresponsible to their duties as a parent. A parent may have unfortunately passed away, the family may have been through a series of abuse, or it can be down to the sad but common fact that sometimes people do just fall out of love. There doesn’t have to be a long running stream of abuse or hatred, sometimes feelings can just change, and that’s okay.

lb7During my childhood it was pretty much just always me and my Mum, that is after we got away from my abusive biological father. But even though we were a single parent family, I loved every second of it! We are so unbelievably close, a closeness that I have never observed with any children and mothers from nuclear families. I am by no means saying that this is not possible, however I don’t believe that me and my mum would have been this close if my dad had still been in the picture. I also got to spend a hell of a lot of time with my grandparents (I even call them Mum and Dad now!)  as my mum had to go to work as she was the only one to provide for us.

“Single parent” needs to stop being such a taboo phrase, would you rather the child be raised in a toxic environment, or one where they were not getting the support that they needed? Of course not, sometimes for the best care to be possible, the parents need to live apart – sadly, sometimes it is that simple. I am so thankful for these family relationships that I have developed over the years thanks to my single parent family. My Mum is, and always has been, more like a best friend than an oppressive parental figure. We respect and love each other, and always have each others back. She is the one person I can turn to for support, and I cherish my childhood that we spent together, even when though it was “just me and her”!