48 hours after adding a nine-week old puppy to the household, only one hour of sleep the first night, and doing everything I can to help her settle in and adjust to a new home while also teaching her the boundaries (chewing on the cats isn't an option!) my sleep-deprived brain has been to some strange places.
Finding myself sitting on the kitchen floor at 3 AM, very tired and envisioning a long road of lack of sleep and house-training, I can't help but imagine how I would manage should I ever have children. Getting a puppy in no way compares to the hard work that is parenthood, I don't wish to even try to draw a comparison! It's just the nearest I will be to it for a good long while, and I imagine that most people wonder how they would be as a parent. The teething, lack of sleep, constant monitoring and worrying, wondering which way is the best way, while being given very definite yet also conflicting advice seems to bring the issue of motherhood to mind for me!
Well, I'm not ready yet by any means, and I have things I need to work on before I'd even consider having a child. Finding a fella, to name just one, rather crucial thing! However, I like being single. I've had enough bad relationships that I find the whole couple thing quite stressful overall, and find it easier just to remain single.
The tiny thing that sparked this post came about while I was trying to settle the new pup, Pixie, for bed. I had the TV on low for some soothing voices, and a dating programme was on, called The Undateables. I haven't seen much of the programme itself so I can't comment on it, except to say that it featured some people with learning difficulties, tourettes, and autism meeting others through dating agencies and following them around with a camera. As if first dates aren't hard enough, without a camera pointing at you and asking you how it's going!
I wasn't paying much attention to it, but just as Pixie fell asleep and I picked up the remote to turn it off, I saw a woman sitting in her kitchen who turned to the camera and said with a wry smile: "It's hard when you're out of the game, it's hard when you're in the game!" And something about that sentence resonated with me as a fundamental truth, that applies to anything in life.
My brushes with depression have taught me a lot about my own unhealthy tendencies to avoid. When I get depressed I withdraw.. because socialising is hard when you feel worthless, dating is impossible when you feel you have nothing to offer, and ducking out seems less painful than forcing yourself to face potential rejection and embarrassment. It seems like a good way to avoid drama, to dodge pain, and staying out of the game seems as though it'll be less hard work. Dating brings up painful personal issues? Stay out of the game! But then you find yourself worrying that you'll always be single, and may never have kids or share the intimacy that a relationship brings. Those things are hard as well. Avoiding parties because you just don't feel bright enough to bring anything good to the table seems justified when depressed, but then sitting at home and missing friends is even harder.
I delayed going to university for a decade because I knew it would be hard and I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to do it, and that it would shatter my dream when I failed. It was easier to stay out of it and preserve it as The Dream I would love to fulfill... when time/money/the ecomomy (insert increasingly far-fetched excuse here) allowed; rather than take the risk and throw myself into it. It took my closest friend confronting me and making me face up to the fact that all my excuses for not going to uni yet were based on fear for me to finally take the plunge.
I don't yet know how it will pan out, but I'm absolutely convinced that leaping in and being committed to finally doing it was the right decision. It is hard, yes, and promises to get harder - but not doing it was hard as well, and in a much more profound way. Doing it means I'm in. I'm involved, I'm driven, I'm challenged and I have new and often fun experiences. Staying out of the game because the game is hard is a poor excuse, because sitting on the sidelines and watching others have fun is even harder.
So life and all it entails now boils down to "In or out?" Either can be hard, but when it comes down to which choice is rewarding and fun, it has to be in every time.