So what do you do? An innocuous enough question, bandied around in that truly British way upon meeting strangers. But how much do you or I assume when faced with the answer?
I am a second chef in a seafood restaurant, and a single mother with two young children.
I am the writer, producer and presenter of a video game radio show, called ‘the basement’ on a local community radio station. I’m also a married mother of three.
I work reupholstering bespoke old furniture for a small local company, and have three children.
I am a university lecturer in cultural and communication theory, and I work on a number of degrees. I’ve got three children, and two step children.
I stay at home as I am chronically ill, and can’t work. My husband had to leave his job to care for me and our children. I have four children, each pair with a different father. Some days I look fine, hey im out and about meeting new people like you! I spend half my life housebound. On that ‘housebound’ note, we have been a homeless statistic for the last 3 years, and live in emergency accommodation on a council estate.
I can only ponder the image that each of these descriptions creates, several different lives, in different circumstances. Different economic prospects. Different housing. Different lifestyles. Different stigmas.
I am all those people.
Its hard to stand tall and be proud, when you fall so spectacularly from grace. I know. I have lived it, and it sucks. The way a strangers eyes glaze over upon realising that you have no social worth. The question and confusion in their faces when you mention your husband, and that he also had to leave work due to taking excessive time off, and becoming an unreliable employee.
Except nothing has, actually. I’m still me, we are still us. Our kids are still smart, polite, engaged individuals. I’m still bright, and have opinions that matter.My husband is so much more than just a carer.
Through writing this journal, I guess I’m looking for validation. That I do deserve a voice, despite the snap judgements that people make. I want to take you on a journey where my little life intertwines with politics, healthcare, education and so much more. To help show people that when life guides you in an unexpected direction, it’s not the end. There is always hope. Change is possible.
It starts with you, now.