I left school when I was 16. I hadn’t planned my life to go down that route, but it did and for the past nine years I’ve just had to live with that fact. At the tender age of 16, I thought I was smart enough, adult enough and resilient enough to make a life out in the big bad world. In some ways I have – I have three beautiful children, who rule every second of it, who keep me on my toes and drive me to the point of despair, but it’s been a tough road, a road that I would rather not have travelled down, in quite the way that I have done.
I remember after leaving my education behind, the envy of watching my friends go on to succeed. They grew into sophisticated men and women, with degrees, jobs, a social life and opportunities, while I jumped miserably from one relationship to the next, never quite knowing where my place was in life, and more often than not, sinking further and further inside myself.
You see throughout my young life, it had been expected of me to go on to University. No-one in my family had ever done so, we had lived an existence of poverty, of penny pinching – sometimes we didn’t know where our next meal was coming from, so when it was evident that I showed some academic aptitude, my mother latched onto this, to the point of suffocation. It was always, “Oh you’ll go on to do so well,” or, “You’re a bright girl, you’ll go get a degree!”, but never with the help and support, that should come with that praise. Always she was pushing, sometimes even showing off the fact that I was a little bit bright, but not once did she sit down and help me with home-work, or ask me what I was actually interested in. Inevitably, it pushed me too far until I no-longer wanted to follow that path.
So I left, sat from afar and envied the people I used to know, while I grew large with child and entered into the chaos of parent-hood. My relationship failed, I was left alone with a sick child, met someone new, grew large with two children and eventually completely lost myself. I’m not too proud to admit it. Becoming a mother, helped me to loose myself in a way that I never believed was possible. No longer was I seen as a “bright spark” – people take one look at me now, with my tribe of hobbits and instantly form judgements. I’m just an overweight woman, with poorly fitting clothes, greying hair and holes in her shoes. I’m awkward around strangers, because I never know what to say and find it hard to join in with conversations.
What they don’t see is the woman who spends whole evenings, lost in a book, who writes poetry in the small hours of the morning, and who debates the fundamental questions of life with her closest friend and partner. They don’t see the glint in my eyes or how animated I am, when I get wrapped up into discussing something I truly love and care about. To them – I am nobody.
From the 1st of March, that will all change. That day, will be the first day of the rest of my life, the day that I start thinking about me, the real me, the passionate, emotional, intelligent me. That day will be my first day of studying at the Open University and I can’t wait.
For too long I’ve sat, allowing my life to drift on by – my brain wallowing away, in the stagnant rhythm of housework, child-care and bed-time routines. I don’t want my children to look back at my life, in the same way that I did, when I think of my own mother and say, “What did she do? What did she achieve? What lessons did I learn from her?” I want them to be inspired and to know, that no-matter what beginning their life sprang from, they can achieve whatever they strive for.
Most of all, I want to be able to give them the life, that I never had.