“I believe you can have whatever you really want in this life, in one form or another, sooner or later. But you can’t have it all at once and you can’t have it forever. No life has the room for everything in it, not on the same day.” -- Barbara SherI would love to be able to tell you that I found this quote through my reading because I’m just such an intellectual, but in fact it was one of many wise sayings on my desk calendar this year. It really resonated with me. It’s practically an anthem for modern womanhood. Can we have a career? And children? And still find time for meaningful intimate relationships and keep fit and be fulfilled as a person all while keeping the house spotless and eating nothing but healthy home-cooked meals?
I was thinking about it again the other day. I did end up taking my courage in both hands and dragging my offspring into the wilds of seedy Kings Cross, Sydney’s red light district, to see the Linde Ivimey exhibition. It was a four-hour round trip, of which 15 minutes were spent in the actual gallery looking at the exhibition. The rest was train travel (hugely exciting!), walking (not so popular) and waiting for trains (involved trains so still good – even potential trains are apparently exciting). Not the ideal ratio of travel to exhibition-viewing from an adult’s point of view, but just about perfect as far as the ducklings were concerned. Maybe a little long on the exhibition viewing. Luckily the boredom of the 15 minutes was alleviated by the existence of a large fishpond in the centre of the gallery and – the real clincher – a ten-week-old puppy lurking in the gallery office, which they sniffed out within seconds of stepping through the door.
I was describing the experience later to a dear (childless) friend who often visits art shows and does other adult-type cultural things which are only a distant memory for me. She asked if I ever went to the Archibald show any more, which we used to do together sometimes BC (Before Children) and I thought of the Barbara Sher quote. You can have what you want in one form or another. I can still go to art shows – just not the way I used to. No more taking my time contemplating each piece, but it’s surprising how much you can cover in 15 minutes, even with small people demanding you admire the bug-eyed goldfish and trying to sneak off into the restricted areas of the gallery.
But it felt so good just to go. Look at me! I’m a real person, doing real-person things! And it certainly doesn’t hurt to expose the ducklings to elements of culture that aren’t tailored for kids now and then. Though the response was unanimous: the sculptures were "weird". But the puppy was cute.
Oh, and the train ride was fun, too. Did I mention how very exciting train travel is? You can sit upstairs! And you can sit downstairs! Then upstairs again! All while talking at the top of your piping six-year-old voice for the edification of the entire carriage.
So maybe I can’t have everything I want, just the way I want it. But the fun part comes in discovering new ways to enjoy things. “No life has the room for everything in it, not on the same day.” But any day that includes some art, a puppy and three happy children is a good day in my book.