Every Life Happens

Graffiti, Ottawa, August 2015

Graffiti, Ottawa, August 2015

There were many things I didn’t quite understand as a kid. Why adults sat forever at the dinner table to eat instead of scarfing down their food and going back to play. Why they didn’t watch TV non-stop considering they had complete power over the remote. Why they would rather drink coffee than chocolate milk. Why they would rather eat oysters, smoked salmon, vegetables and simple cookies than fries, meat patties and sticky strawberry-flavoured choco biscuits. Why they argued about us, the kids. Why they seem to behave like kids themselves when they were having problem at work. Why they forgot simple stuff like keys, where the car was parked, where the must-wear-tomorrow favourite pair of jeans was and who was who at school. Why they went to bed so late yet constantly complained they were tired. Why they cleaned instead of just slacking off. Why they worried about us. Why they worried, period. It’s not like they were accountable to anyone, after all, they were… adults!

Now that I’m told I am an adult, I get it. Well, most of it, anyway. I understand. I understand why my mother always seemed so tired and busy—that’s because she had her hands full. I understand why chocolate milk was banned at the breakfast table (I spilled it without fail every single morning because I was barely awake, eventually my mother figured I’d get calcium from cheese and other stuff—I’m just fine now, thank you for asking). I understand why life can be so stressful

Having Mark didn’t make me any smarter. In fact, if anything, I think I lost my sanity, a few neurons, some skin elasticity and countless hours spent saying “no”. But my new status as a mother and the aftermath of this little earthquake offered me ample time to think about everything. And to reconsider just about every assumption I had about the world and people, as I tackled my new tasks (“gotta keep that kid alive, fed and entertained for how many years?!”) and dealt with stress (“… and he doesn’t eat, nor sleep, nor laugh at my jokes!”).

I still strongly believe that there is no magic recipe to live a perfect life, that we are all different, that priorities shift over time and that we can all be happy if we give it a chance and stop being so fucking mean to each other (real life is a bit like the sandbox, we all play along just fine until some wise ass starts throwing sand and stepping on castles).

I like people and I’m always curious to see how lives are lived, next door or across the world. It’s fascinating how similar are our struggles, fights and hopes, no matter what we believe in, no matter who we are.

When Mark was just a baby, I spent countless hours at Chapters collecting magazines and books offering life hacks and telling inspirational journeys. I wanted to find a fix for all the raw emotions I was feeling. I wanted to know I wasn’t alone feeling lost and overwhelmed. I wanted other people’s lives too, because they just seemed to be better—the busy executive who worked around the clock, the student who slept at the lab, the stay-at-home mother of a large family, the entrepreneur, the stripper, the motivational speaker, the minimum-wage employee… hell, I even read Rural Roots at one point and convinced myself I could totally be living the rural Canada dream (and possibly give birth to another eight or nine kids, we would all eat dinner around a big wooden table and…)

Looking back, it’s probably a good thing the Jehovah’s Witnesses didn’t knock at the door during that period of my life—I would have ended up in a cult. That’s how desperate I was to find not myself per se, but the meaning of life.

In a way, understanding the world better is terrifying. There are thousands of ways to live your life, millions of decisions to make, billions of paths to explore.

I had zero success with all the recipes and fixes the magazines and books offered. I haven’t started a new life as a socialite, a DJ or a busy lawyer. I am not becoming a farmer and I think I missed the boat (and lack talent) for pop star.

But I have a future and my own life to live.

Who know what it holds.

It’s exciting.

Eventually, we all get somewhere… and we grow along the way.


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. I totally would have travelled to visit you in rural Canada.
    Though… I’m sure Ottawa is better for you 😀
    Great article, as usual (but I’m not getting fed up of it!)

  2. Martin Penwald on

    It looks very bad when you say you could have finished in a cult. Especially Jehovah’s witnesses.
    Moreover, it is well known that The Flying Spaghetti Monster is the Only One True God of the Universe (or is that Cthulluh ? I never remember, there is so much One True God).

      • Martin Penwald on

        Il traine un peu partout. Je me souviens avoir vu un panneau publicitaire à Las Vegas pour son truc, il y a 2 ou 3 ans.
        Si tu veux rejoindre une église, John Oliver vient juste d’en créer une :

        Je suis quand même surpris de constater, aux États-Unis, la lourdeur du carcan religieux. Des trucs comme le mouvement quiverfull ou l’audience des téléévangélistes (et le pognon qu’ils se fond, voir Joel Osteen, Robert Tilton, Dollar Creflo, etc).

          • Martin Penwald on

            Là où ça devient comique, c’est que quand on regarde un peu, Jésus, il est plus proche du hippie socialo-communiste anti-capitaliste (et qui vivait entre hommes) que l’inverse, tout ce que le plouc américain de base abhorre.

  3. Agreed – adults always seemed like a different species, probably because of parenting techniques back then. But adults aren’t that much different to children really. And vice versa.

    • Mmm… interesting. I’ve always seen my parents as “humans”, not authority figures (and I mean it in a good way), mostly because they cared about what we thought and didn’t mind admitting they were occasionally wrong.

  4. I feel like our parents had it more together at our age. I can’t help thinking what my 30 years old mom would have thought of my equally old self, I’m sure she would have thought that I’m a selfish baby! I’m already exhausted just taking care of my-self, I can’t imagine having a child depending on me.

    Or maybe, we are just more aware of all the possibilities that exist and it’s harder for us to be satisfied with our choices?

    • The economy had already started to tank in France back then, so it wasn’t easier for my parents. But it terrifies me to think that at my age, they already had three kids!

      • In Montreal too, my parents bought a new house when the interest rates were sky-high and the house quickly lost value. Soon enough they were unable to sell it and they were facing big mortgage payments … with three kids as well.

        I don’t know how they did it, it would have been too much anxiety for me ! And it’s funny to think that they sold the house with much difficulties for 135 000 $ and now it’s worth close to 500 000.

          • They did not talk about it but somehow I knew that I couldn’t take ballet lessons because they could not afford it or that we could never eat desert at the restaurant (under no circumstances !) because it was too expensive.

            Nowadays, my sister and I are rather anxious when it comes down to money!

  5. Love this post !! Life is weird. I used to think my life would be a certain way and it ended up being another way and i am enjoying it. It is not perfect. It is chaotic and entertaining at same time. I like that you said there is no magic recipe. If there was, it would too perfect and boring. A toast to non perfect life !! ( no worries i am not drinking early morning, though i drank milk. Does it count? Lol )

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