You Do A Little, You Give A Little, You Try To Take A Little…then you tell people to go bollocks

I never used to be a doer. Doer’s get up before midday. Doers play sports, have meaningful hobbies and don’t understand the importance of doing the NME crossword half-pissed in the pub at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon. Doers don’t wear fur coats or carry Emergency Wine or staple bits of their clothes together rather than go shopping. Being a doer was a definite do-NOT for me.

But then, somewhere out of the blue, I grew a stomach the size (and shape if I turned sideways-ish) of Nicaragua and (if you believe my husband, which I do not) started to walk like a hippo. An unnatural condition which culminated in our daughters’ rather dramatic, painful and messy entry into the world (the drugs were good though. I’d take pethadine recreationally). A short period of recovery later and I began buggy-pushing down a road of ‘do-ishness’.

It started small. The grim determination that no-one would see me looking less than just so, despite having a two week old baby. Heading out in the world with the purpose of proving everyone wrong – I can be a bloody good and together mother. Just because I once vomited in the sink of a Chinese restaurant and spent a largely horizontal evening being used as a bench by off-duty lap dancers does not preclude me from showing extreme capability in the area of child-rearing.

But like all addictions, small-dos increased in size…baby yoga, baby massage, weekly get-together activities with other equally baffled mummies, Sing & Sign (which is awesome btw), Tumble Tots. Then The Big One: returning to work. But not JUST returning to work, OH NO. That would be far too fucking easy. I returned to work WITH MY CHILD. We had limited childcare, so we just made it work.

Doing, see?

Eventually, with the benefit of child-imposed early mornings, you get so used to having all the extra hours in the day and 15000% increased activity levels that, like continued substance abuse, you need more to keep you occupied. I am crippled by cack-handedness, so knitting was out of the window. Instead, when Romilly was one I formed a company with three other similarly do-ish people. And my transformation was complete.

My name is Marie-Anne Leonard and I am a Doer.

What no-one told me was that the more doers do, the more non-doers expect them to do. So you continue to be a doer, but you also slowly, gently and organically grow into a Giver.

Giving is something completely alien to most people, including me. For 25 solid years I steadfastly gave fuck-all to anyone; time, love, substance, my last fag. I was a toddler for most of my life, the world orbiting completely around me; just the way I liked it. This new development was something of an eye-opener. I finally understood the whole concept of ‘it’s better to give than to receive’. That scrummy warm feeling inside when you do something nice for someone else just ‘because’. My sense of responsibility to my daughter is, was and always will be the driving force behind everything I do and give. In a weird state of role-reversal, I want to wide-eyed and open-hearted, hand my achievements and kindnesses on a golden platter to her, saying ‘These are for you, Romilly’. I want her to grow up with a sense that being her mum is more to me than bedtime stories, photographing adventures and messy ramen dinners. She’s given me my sense of purpose in the world. And I want her to deep down be proud of me, even when I’m pissed at her 16th birthday party and insisting that everyone dances to Duran Duran and she’s hiding in the loo with her bestie, clutching a stolen bottle of vodka calling me a cunt.

Occasionally though, we Doers and Givers need to ask for something back. The problem with being incredibly busy is that you have little time to watch the world around you. You start working on the assumption that everyone is…well, like you. So it’s a bit of a fucking shock when nothing happens. Proper, wide-eyed, open-mouthed ‘ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?’ shock. The sort of shock that has you questioning the values of others and then mentally kicking yourself in the shins for being so fucking dumb. This happened to me recently and I had to take stock. It’s one of the reasons I’ve started writing again, in fact. As incredible as it sounds, I have more time to do it purely from making a basic assessment when being asked to give:

  • Is my fuckwit radar fully functioning?
  • Is this likely to be a good thing for me/us/the world?
  • Is this person/people/organisation nice?
  • Can I be arsed?
  • Can they be arsed?

Five x yes = not a bad idea. I’ve learnt that quite often the people who seem to need the most assistance are the ones highly likely to stroll off whistling when the shoe is on the other foot. The above assessment has so far held me in good stead, clearing the crap off my metaphorical lawn and at the same time deterring any other vile creature from shitting on it. But without decapitating the daisies. I like daisies and so does my awesome daughter.

 

 

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