Tick Your Boxes


Over the weekend an article by Wendy Squires created a social media buzz.


The piece was about how as a society we feel it necessary to pass comment and judgement upon childless women. I absolutely agreed with Squires given my own (albeit brief) experience with infertility but that’s not what I want to focus on here. Once again the idea of having a family was framed in terms of “ticking that box”.  This lead my thinking off on a tangent about Western society’s expectations in general.  ( I know, I know heady stuff for a girl who can barely lift her mind above crumpet).  It appears to me that first world folk are increasingly weighed down by laundry lists of achievements that need to be checked off before we can feel we’re having a jolly time of it.  It also seems that the higher one climbs up the socio-economic pole, the longer the “to do” list stretches.

Swinging off the socio-economic pole.

Swinging off the socio-economic pole.

A generic list could look like this.

To Do in Your 20s

1) Bachelors degree

2) One or more post Grad qualifications

3) Extensive travel/back packing

4) Gain career foothold in glamorous industry

5) A stint working overseas in glamorous industry

6) Date string of attractive and charismatic guys

7)  Acquire a walk in closet full of fabulousness

8) Work out and look hawt at all times

Backpacking the world - tick.

Backpacking the world – tick.

Ideally these accomplishments will be systematically crossed off by the time one reaches their 30s necessitating a fresh list.

To Do By Age 35

1) Cease dating jerks and find true soulmate

2) Get married

3) Purchase sprawling family home in respectable suburb

4) Retire debt

5) Have 2.5 kids

6) Return to glamorous career

7) Work out and look hawt at all times

As one enters their 40s and the kids become more self sufficient the list requires further upgrades.

To Do By Age 50

1) Maintain happy marriage (or at least the facade thereof)

2) Achieve an even more glamorous job title and/or start own business

3) Get kids into private school

4) Renovations to house and face

5) Investment property and/or substantial stock portfolio

6) Renew love affair with travel through exciting family holidays

7) Work out and look hawt at all times

Are you exhausted reading this? I know I am. I’m not sure where all this pressure is coming from but its no doubt there. Yet when you look objectively its ridiculous to expect ourselves to kick goals in every aspect of our lives and to look immaculate while we’re doing it. No wonder depression is reaching epidemic proportions.

I stumbled into my 30s with most of the boxes on the list glaringly empty. To say that I was down in the dumps was an understatement akin to “Dadabs codes a bit”.  I felt as though my life was a hard drive  held under constant siege by “General Failure”.  Luckily for me Dababulous came along and reinstalled said hard drive. The wheel of fortune spun in our favor during the mid 2000s. Relationship, career, family and the dream home all fell into place – tick, tick, tick , tick.  I am not going to kid you and say it didn’t bring happiness. Happiness came by the truckload. It was like standing on the jetty thinking the Love Boat had sailed only to have the Tardis pop up and offer a ride.

Mumabs missed the Love Boat but hitched a ride on the Tardis

Mumabs missed the Love Boat but hitched a ride on the Tardis

I will say this – I haven’t ticked all my boxes. The travel box in particular is a big empty square that begs to be filled. However at risk of coming over all zen, I’m at peace with my lot and have given up on lists.

The Mumabs is like waaaay zen man.

The Mumabs is like waaaay zen man.

Let’s finish with some crumpet of the cerebral kind. Rock star philosopher Alain de Botton has much to say on what makes for a rich and fulfilling life. What’s more he says it in a voice that is positively musical.  Listening to him is uplifting in a way my push up bra is not.  Here are some quotes.

 Here’s some insight I’ve had about success: You can’t be successful at everything. We hear a lot of talk about work-life balance. Nonsense. You can’t have it all. You can’t.

Any vision of success has to admit what it’s losing out on, where the element of loss is.

Any wise life will accept that there is going to be an element where we’re not succeeding.

A lot of the time our ideas of what it would mean to live successfully are not our own. They’re sucked in from other people. Chiefly, if you’re a man, your father; if you’re a woman, your mother… We also suck in messages from everything from the television to advertising, to marketing etc. These are hugely powerful forces that define what we want and how we view ourselves.

ADB shows fine taste in stuffed leather couches.

ADB shows fine taste in stuffed leather couches.

Do you have list fatigue or are you still working through yours?  And Alain de Botton  – wouldn’t you like to get him all existential over coffee up the back of  some charming Parisian cafe? Nup – just me then……..




21 thoughts on “Tick Your Boxes

  1. Alain de Botton freaks me out, but I love his tweets. He is very good at reminding me that lists do not matter … except for the fact that he is exactly the kind of megastar writer/academic/hipster-philosopher my twenty-something self longed to be! I used to be big on the bucket list idea, but since having kids I rarely have time for lists – and when I do, it tends to be about what I can do for them rather than myself. Not that I’m all selfless and earth-mother about it – it’s just a change of primary focus I guess. One thing I will never do is pole dancing!

  2. I’ve ticked off the marraige and kids bit. The end. Just as well I deplore ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ and am happily destined to remain a bogan forevermore. Plus it only takes having the big C make an appearance in your immediate family to realise how truly ridiculous it all is.

    That Alain dude scares me. He seems scarily intelligent and intellectual and I be stoopid.

    • I can only imagine that the threat of the Big C would put everything into perspective. You’re the second in a row to be freaked out by Al? Yep he’s an intellectual Everest but I bet he couldn’t operate the Chez Abs media centre.

  3. I really wish I’d travelled more while I had the chance. I’ve ticked a lot of those boxes, but there are plenty I’ve left out there! Please God don’t make me work out and look hawt post 50! Stop the box. I want to get off!

  4. I did the mental checklist for a while but have given it up for more lofty ideals. I am now focussed on the things that truly matter- maximising sleep opportunities, coffee, and not completely losing my mind. My travel plans are a little less Contiki, Europe and a little more caravan park, Bonnydoon!

    Must say for the first time ever I am not with you on the Alain de Botton cosy cafe meet- I am too sleep deprived to maintain any semblance of intellectual banter. However, I could probably master the Chez Abs media centre, as long as it doesn’t answer back!

  5. I must admit that I read the generic lists you provided and was like, “Huh?”. I’ve never written or mentally maintained any such list in my life! I feel like I’ve missed out. Is this what everyone else is doing??

  6. I love ADB. And his shiny head that looks like a bottom. Nope, I’ll never mature, even if I have some ticks off the list. The problem with the bloody list thing, is it keeps expanding. Yes. Exhausted. Not only do we have to climb the socioeconomic pole, we now have to learn how to dance on one as a new ‘fun’ hobby/sport/recreational activity that HA coincidentally turns men on and involves skimpy pants at the same time. Not playing. Ranty Kim out. 🙂

  7. Hi, I’ve chosen your blog as one of my nomination in the Liebster Awards. All the details are here http://citytosticks.com/2013/05/09/liebster-award/

    Ciara xx

  8. Hi Muma, you’ve touched on so many things that are worth thinking about. I’m a childless woman (due to ‘i hate the term’ infertility), I ended up losing count of the number of IVF cycles I did and was also told by gynae to stop. I didn’t, I wasn’t ready (read stubborn bitch) but eventually reconciled with self and achieved some degree of acceptance. I love kids, I espec. love babies and there is some grief that will stay forever. Quote Jeff Buckley ‘your the tear that hangs inside my heart forever’ Now he was crumpet!!
    But, life moves on. My marriage ended (my ex-husband just had a baby with new wife), I met my own gorgeous man who had a just turned 2 year old. Life is sweet and I’m really good with needles…. Thanks for your post. And I’m an awesome step muma x

    • Lydia, This post was meant to be (like the rest of this blog) tongue in cheek. I certainly didn’t intend to rake over wounds that are obviously still healing. I can’t imagine how things would have ended up for me had IVF failed. Yet you’ve handled it with guts lady.
      PS: On a lighter note – my mojo came screaming back from the dead after you suggested I do that Avengers post. Oh my Lord! Dont know whether to thank you or curse you!

      • Hey Muma, don’t be at all worried, you did not stir up any old wounds. I enjoyed your post as beneath the jest there are important issues that you have raised, Blogs are an awesome way to get people discussing topics that are hard to talk about in person. And, now I know a little more about things like hadrion ….. Oh no, I’ve forgotten the next bit. I will concentrate more next time we get tidbits about physics, astronomy etc. I’m better at concentrating on crumpet x

  9. You can only imagine how I feel at the tender age of 26 years young, being a mum, a wife and somehow still remain me? I struggle with this constantly as I am the first, of my close knit of girl friends, to have a family. They always tell me that they want a family when they see me with Eddy and the boys yet one is off in London who has just scored a job as a curator for some swanky gallery, the other is climbing the ranks in media, the other a journalist and writer and my other now has her own clinic! I was on the same league as them at one point and it all came to a rude halt.

    I couldn’t imagine my life without these guys – but I feel I’m going to have to work that little bit harder to get ahead career wise, business wise, financial wise etc etc. Mind you I’m back at work and already talking and squeezing my way through to other areas to get into my field and Eddy is waiting to hear back from a deal which could potentially mean our own business – which would mean I would have to quick my job and stay home. 😦

    I honestly sometimes am envious of women who just are happy and content with being a mum and have no other ambitions. Just happy being a wife and mum.

    Either way – I’m slowly learning to ignore these boxes and make a list of my own to suit it to my life and make it realistic. And learning to be ok with that, not want what others have – because what I have, others want.

    🙂 Great post mum-abulous xx

  10. Wants to comment. Has no boxes. Stole someone else’s list of boxes and set fire to them. Realises she should not comment. Does so anyway.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s