Suburban Daze.

May 18, 2014 § 4 Comments

Recently I have been thinking of the film Revolutionary Road, which features Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet  as a married couple in the 1960’s in America. The characters begin as sparkling, independent individuals with dreams to go places and be somebody. Indeed, this determination to experience a full and unusual life is what attracts them to each other in the first place.

They marry, and move to the suburbs. But this is where things turn. Kate Winslet’s character finds motherhood mundane, and chafes against the curtailed opportunites and freedom that having young children can bring, while her husband hates his office job in the city, which he is doggedly determined to succeed at to be a ‘good provider’.

The dreams that the couple began with, the dreams they loved in each other, become pipe dreams as time passes and they feel trapped in suburbia and a life they did not really want. As the family expands, it is harder and harder for them to conceive of ‘getting out’; of breaking free to the life they had always imagined for themselves.

When I saw the film a few years ago it articulated something I often feel. I could relate in a way that made me both relieved to feel acknowledged, and deeply uncomfortable. I have written about these feelings before in the piece Urge to Fly: the conflict – expressed so well in the movie – between the grand dreams one has, and the sometimes harsh realities of needing food on the table, and of little people who depend on you.

I love my large family, and I love my life. But I am not where I thought I would be at this age – in terms of personal goals or life experiences. And I did not realise, when I had younger children, that they would get used to a certain way of life that would feel impossible to change once they were older.

I wish I was a fearless adventurer, certain enough of my love and strength as a Mother to make huge life changes and know the children would be alright. But I am not that….and my experiences so far lead me to think, that for my children, the stability of a long term home and school, and the closeness of our extended family, are really important elements for their happiness (and mine).

I remind myself: I will not be in this phase of life forever. The endless days of school lunches, ballet lessons birthday parties. The barking of the neighbourhood dog, and the weekend taxi service Sol and I have become. It will not be forever. And it is up to me to bring some soul, some meaning and most of all some fun into life right now.

I remind myself: it is all in my thoughts. In how I choose to see things. Maybe it is time to put down the dishes and get outside for a while. Make the commitment and tick some of those smaller goals off the list. Maybe it is time to plan a great family holiday!




§ 4 Responses to Suburban Daze.

  • I found this very moving, Kirrilee, and I think you speak for many even those without large families to manage. And the big question is how to bring some soul in, how to consecrate these ‘small’ ever day acts of care and love as the very threads holding the goodness together in the larger world. What you are doing for your children is world work indeed, and one day of course they will leave home (hopefully!!) and all that you have done and lived to date will add up to something huge , a form you hadn’t imagined, you’ll look back and see the meaning and experience a freedom to express yourself in new ways. I am particular thinking of the phase of menopause when I say this. love Alexandra

  • ps and definitely time to have that big family hol!!!

  • Heidi Hodder says:

    good timing for me to read this . .eden has been crook like robin (wheezing plus gastro) for days and tim was at golf all morning. it took us over six hours straight today for Cain to write his multiculturalism speech (first three he spent crying, yelling etc), just saw the robbins pic you liked “success is buried under frustration” – that sums it up perfectly! i found myself fantasising about creating a meme saying ‘like if children have ruined your life’ of course i don’t feel that way really but i could not prevent it from popping into my head at a least one ;point today! very grateful for my day in retrospect. i loved that movie but mostly because it made me so grateful i have buddhism, not that i don’t know that craving for escape all too well but unlike that couple i do know escape is not really the answer

  • Thank you for your comments Ladies. The scariest writings to publish always end up the juiciest, and with the most comments. I think I am slowly becoming the person that names out loud what others only think!

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