Sometimes when you’re hunting for unicorns, life gives you a goat

I took my eldest to see Despicable Me 3 recently. I thought it was brilliant – all of the 80s jokes were perfectly pitched to those of us who are now parents today. But there was also a sweet moment that stuck with me. **(Slight) spoiler follows**

At one point, Agnes, Gru’s youngest daughter, goes hunting for unicorns. She lays out a bunch of sweets and waits for hours in the woods until, sure enough, a fluffy one-horned beast appears. She brings it home and Gru is forced to inform her that it is merely a goat who lost one of his horns. He says tenderly, “Life is just like that sometimes. We’re hoping for a unicorn and we get a goat.”

And I thought, wow man that’s deep. Am I right? Think about it. Unicorns are the ultimate in awesome, sweet mythical beast. They are pure, fluffy and, apparently, poop rainbows. Why wouldn’t you want a unicorn? Goats, however, keep it real. They definitely don’t poop rainbows, they eat everything (and I mean everything) that they can get their mucky teeth into, and nobody likes it when you play the goat – even worse if you get their goat.

So, when you’re hoping for mythical perfection, you get real life. We can learn something here from Agnes’s response to Gru’s disappointing revelation (and forgive me if this is a slight misquote): “Well then he’s the best goat in the whole world!”

So, she didn’t get what she wanted. She got something that was less than her ideal fantasy of a mythical beast. But she saw the good in it and was grateful for what she had.

I can think of a lot of times in my life when I was hunting unicorns and got a goat.

I was going to be a famous musical theatre star but instead I have an office job. I was going to drive a Ferrari but instead I have a Hyundai. I was going to marry Robert Downey Jr but instead I married an IT consultant from Yorkshire. I was going to have a boy and a girl but I ended up with two boys. I was going to have ab muscles that you can see, but I never have and (I’m pretty sure) never will.

These were the dreams of an immature and inexperienced girl. They might have meant a lot to me at some point, and they served their purpose in keeping me motivated, but they were never really the right things for me. They were unicorns. My goats are much, much better.

Musical theatre would have been a hard life. Constant rehearsals, pressure to look a certain way, working late nights, moving from town to town all the time. It must be hard to start a family with a lifestyle like that. My office job is challenging without being overwhelming, has predictable hours with lots of holiday, and my colleagues accept me for who I am.

Ferraris are extremely impractical on British roads, would not fit all of my shopping, and with my driving skills it probably would have been totalled in the first month I owned it anyway. My Hyundai can totally cope with being rubbed up against a bush from time to time, and it can fit the spoils from a trip to Costco in the back.

Robert Downey Jr has bounced back from his drug problems thankfully, but I’m not so sure he’d be a nurturing life partner, and is really too old for me anyway. My husband cooks, cleans, changes nappies, listens to me spout rubbish all the time and basically puts up with me doing whatever I fancy. Who could ask for more?

Lots of people have a dream “gender pattern” for their future children, but us parents learn that that’s a load of rubbish. My two boys are everything I really wanted. They cuddle me and give me an excuse to watch kid’s movies and play with toys. They are smart and funny and have totally unique personalities. I did grieve briefly for not being able to buy pretty dresses and fix my daughter’s hair like having a real-life doll, but pretty dresses look hard to put on wiggly legs and I’m sure I’d be rubbish at combing the knots out of long hair.

Now I’m not going to try and feed you a line of effluvia about how chiselled abs are not actually all they’re cracked up to be. I can’t think of any reason rock hard abs would be bad. But we live in the real world. And in the real world, my love of donuts was never going to mesh with the visible ab muscles goal. And I’m okay with that. I don’t want to miss out on any food pleasures for flat ab pleasures. Anyway, I totally do sit-ups from time to time, so I’m pretty sure my abs are actually rock hard (underneath the layer of fat).

So there you go. My unicorns all turned into goats. And my goats are pretty awesome.

Now, I would like to recognise that sometimes life gives you a lot worse than goats. It might give you a stinking, partially decomposed and maggot infested ex-goat. I’ve had a few ex-goats in my time and things can be really, really hard. It takes time to move on from ex-goats, and sometimes a part of you never fully heals from the worst life has to dish out.

But maybe even on our darkest days we can remember the little things that we are still grateful for. If we can remember that sometimes things don’t turn out the way we expect, but that they can still turn out pretty good, then there is always hope, and something to look forward to.

Two Tiny Hands
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How to become something you never thought you would be

Does anyone else remember being about 18 years old (or even younger) and thinking they had the world all figured out?

Did anyone else think they were complete at that stage? “I’m an adult now and this is who I am.”

Maybe it was just me. But boy was I wrong. Now I’m in my late 30s, I’m finally starting to realise that I’m becoming a new person all the time – that I’m not complete and that it’s never too late to become something you never thought you would be.

I think at my age it’s easy to feel a bit discouraged about your prospects – like it’s getting too late to learn something new or succeed at something you never tried before. But then I need to remind myself of how much I’ve changed since I was 18. Since then I have:

  • Moved to a whole foreign country and learned to live happily in a different culture
  • Built a pretty decent career-like thing that I’m not ashamed to talk about at dinner parties (in case I ever go to any).
  • Grew two humans and learned how to keep them alive.

And those are just the really big things.

At the same time, a fear of failure has all too often kept me from success. I have a history of being a quitter. If anything seemed too hard – or the prospect of success too good to be true – or it seemed that failure was imminent, I would just give up while the giving up was good. It happened with just about every sport or hobby I ever tried. It also happened with a few career choices I pursued in my youth. I was going to be a star of screen or stage but I never even actually tried that.

I’ve told myself I enjoy being a jack of all trades, but really I’m afraid I can’t be the master of any of them. And fear never did me any favours (I have to remind myself when undergoing any medical procedure that fainting does not help). Strictly Ballroom had the best ever mantra:

A life lived in fear.jpg

That’s why this blogging lark has become so important to me. I’m not going to give up on this one. Some weeks it’s hard. I can’t think of anything to write, or nobody is reading what I do write. Some days, being a mum and all, I’m just so tired and I want to stare into space and drink a glass of wine. Today is one of those days.

But I’m going to write instead. Because sometimes the feelings that make me feel like sitting around doing nothing are actually put to better use by writing. I can write it all down and put it to rest.

Writing is one of the things I’ve always loved but was too scared to properly pursue – especially fiction writing. The blog is teaching me that I can write and that writing isn’t always about who is going to read it, or whether I become famous or even recognised at all.

It is also teaching me that it’s never too late to reinvent yourself. I can be a mum, a wife, a friend, a blogger, and a writer. You can finally go and climb that mountain you’ve been looking at, or take steps towards changing your career to the one you really want.

You’re never too old (or too young) or not good enough.

Not too late.jpg

Have you given up on things you loved before? Is there something you always wanted to try?

Tammymum
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