Monday, 31 August 2015

Fuck Luck

I live a good life. 

Though not for everyone, I recognise that it’s an enviable life for many and that many people think that I am lucky. I know this because I’m told, often. Like it’s a compliment. But it’s not.

I am a first generation Australian. I was born to two European immigrants. My French father and my Dutch-Indonesian mother met in a migrant hostel in South Australia, fell in love and something, something… had two healthy, smart and able kids.

So I AM lucky to be born in Australia. Lucky and grateful. I am lucky to be born healthy, of mind, body and spirit. Lucky and grateful. I am lucky that I was born to a family that held ‘family’ in high regard so that I was raised with love. I’m lucky that the role models in my life were good and strong. I am lucky that my mum is the woman she is and therefore the parent she is. I am lucky that the next man she chose to be her husband would turn out to be the perfect step-father.

I am also lucky that I made it to womanhood, largely unscathed and now have two healthy, smart and able sons. I thank the universe for that good fortune every day.

I do feel lucky for all these incredibly positive things in my life because I had no impact on them. They were bestowed upon me thanks to genetics and thanks to the decisions and choices of my parents, their parents and the generations before them.

What I am not lucky for is everything else that people see in my life today. And be fucked if I’m going to smile and ‘yes, you’re right’ when someone suggests that I am.

Especially about the following ‘compliments’.

You’re so lucky you have a good husband.

My husband is a great partner. He is kind and loyal and reliable. He is loving and respectful. He is generous and supportive. He is strong and present and generally shares the same values as I do. He encourages me to follow my dreams and stands strong whenever I need to weather a personal storm.

But it is not an accident that we are together. Our marriage wasn’t arranged by a third party. At the time of meeting my [now] husband I was dating several other blokes… with an indecent amount of ex-boyfriends in my wake. I was trying before I did any buying. In the time that we have known each other we have dated each other, lived together, broken up, dated other people and got back together. When I said ‘yes’ to his proposal, I already KNEW he would be a good husband. That’s WHY I said ‘yes’. In the fifteen years that we have been married we have struggled, grown, aged, argued, weathered hard times and very nearly and irrevocably separated. Luck has not kept us together. Hard work has.

When we brought our first baby home we were CLUELESS. So we carved out a plan for how we wanted our family’s life to look and we stuck to the plan together. Accountable to each other and encouraging of each other. We headed in the same direction, side by side. He decided he wanted to be the best father he could be and I wanted to be the best mother I could be. So I spend every day doing what I can to achieve that goal. He does the same. He CHOOSES to be present and engaged and invested in his sons. We fuck up a lot but we hold each other accountable to those aspirations every day. 

No luck. No accident. No magic.

You’re so lucky you live in a beautiful home.

I have a beautiful home. It’s GORGEOUS. I am illogically and unreasonably emotionally attached to it. I actually love my home. With real feelings in my heart. It’s what I call my ‘forever home’ and if I had my way I would spend the rest of my days here. After renting for years, the last home I had I built with my husband. We worked crazy hard to build it for as little as possible so we could sell it making the maximum, honest profit… which we then used as a deposit on my ‘forever home’ which we substantially renovated.

We have sacrificed holidays, new cars and extravagant life choices to live in this house. There are many days when we reevaluate and question whether it’s worth it. My answer, every time, is “it is.” Those choices are not for everyone, we know, and we have many friends who prioritise other things like international travel with their family higher than a massive real estate commitment… and we have both been envious of each other’s choices at various times of our lives. Are they lucky to be able to travel regularly? Or have they engineered their life’s decisions around their priorities?

You’re lucky you can stay home with your kids and not have to work.

When I was ‘surprised’ by the arrival of a new life in my womb I had my own menswear boutique where I sold my own-label, imported men’s shirts ties and cufflinks. Before then I had worked full-time since the age of sixteen.

Once we got over the shock of being pregnant we had many candid talks about what we thought our family would look like and we both agreed that we didn’t want our child/children to go into childcare. One of us had to stay home with them and I chose to be the one. Which meant that I had to close my business and give up earning an income to do so.

My husband also has his own business selling wine [now online] that he started when we were first together. We have both worked hard to support each other in our professional lives.

If you’ve ever run your own business you’ll know that it is incredibly taxing and I’m not just talking about tax. It takes an enormous level of commitment, sacrifice and lean living. It also takes tenacity. In business, especially, you make your own luck. When you run your own business it becomes part of the family and though I no longer have my own business, I spend many hours every week with my head in my husband’s business.

Contrary to popular belief, I’m not the good little woman at home lucky to have a man bring home the bacon. My man brings home the bacon because he doesn’t have to worry about cooking it. He also doesn’t have to worry about school commitments, sick children, grocery shopping, clean sheets on the bed or jocks in his drawer.

Of course, becoming a single-income household was not without its challenges and it meant that we had to tighten our belts.

We don’t go to stage shows that are touring or attend concerts of any artists other than our kids. We haven’t been to all the new restaurants in town [or even many of the old ones]. We don’t often go to the movies and we usually choose to have our coffee at home instead of in a café. We do A LOT of entertaining at home. In our gorgeous house. We’re prepared to sacrifice lifestyle but we will always invest in our friends and family. And there’s no point in having such a big, beautiful home if you’re not going to fill it, often, with people you love.

You’re lucky that you have such good friends.

You know now that I think about it, I think I only ever hear that from my friends :)

But I’m not alone. I hear people say ‘you’re so lucky’ to women particularly ALL.THE.TIME. And I hear good, strong and capable women take it on the chin far too often. I’ve heard people say ludicrous fucking statements like “Oh you’re LUCKY that you have a husband/partner to BABYSIT your kids” NO. One does not ‘babysit’ one’s own offspring. One parents them. And there’s nothing lucky about that. I know women who have had to defend their ‘fortunate’ lives as though they somehow don’t deserve them. My friends are sick of being called lucky for their life’s choices too. Lucky that they have such a good job, lucky that they drive such a nice car, lucky that they have such a nice partner, lucky that they have a happy family, lucky that they have a good life.

Calling someone ‘lucky’ robs people from owning their decisions. It devalues their own strategic plan and their hard work. It’s condescending and many times demeaning. It’s like the common misconception that new musical artists in the industry are ‘overnight successes’. As if the decade of training and auditions and failures prior to their emergence didn’t exist.

As with many people, the role that luck has played in my life so far is part of the picture.

But the truth is hundreds of little decisions every day and a few really momentous ones are the reasons that I live such a lucky life.

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