Why Andre Rieu is a home wrecker…

Posted on May 17, 2011

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Andre Rieu came very close to ruining my life last week.

Mostly because my 84-year-old Grandmother is his biggest fan.

She makes Team Edward look small time. Bieber fans write to her for advice. The Beatles only realised they weren’t bigger than Jesus when my Grandma discovered Andre.

And I had managed to get her two free tickets to see his show as a birthday treat only a month after she had undergone hip replacement surgery.   It’s hard to say whether she was more excited at the thought of a night out to see her favourite artist of all time or just a night out after a month being cooped up in the house recovering.

Only I couldn’t go with her.

It fell on a Wednesday night.  And not just any Wednesday night, but our ‘treasured-in-theory-but-much-maligned-in-reality’ Nuptial Date Night (NDN)*.

This is a fortnightly evening set aside so that Callum and I can have actual, proper conversation and enjoy each other’s company for an extended block of time, rather than just grabbing rushed moments in between our otherwise manic schedule.

And yet I am eaten up with guilt.  I am a bad granddaughter.  I cannot accompany Grandma to watch the botoxed, shiny, white-toothed man perform kitsch renditions of Waltzing Matilda.

I float the idea of skipping date night go with her and feel brutally torn between my commitments to my marriage and giving my Grandma the time of her life.  Callum also floats the idea of me missing date night and I immediately get upset with him for not prioritising our marriage.

This is when I decide Andre Rieu is a home wrecker.

Zees is a reeediculus propozeeshun...

In the meantime, Grandma (oblivious to my turmoil) has organised for her friend, Gloria, to go to the concert with her, sorted out a disabled parking pass and is strutting around her living room on her new titanium hip listening to Rieu’s latest CD, the happiest clam who ever received a fortnightly pension.

In retrospect, it was utterly ridiculous that I was almost in tears over having a prior commitment which precluded me taking Grandma to see a home wrecker live in concert.

I got her two free tickets!  Tickets she would never have been able to get!  To her favourite artist no less!  On the week of her 84th birthday!  I was the most amazing granddaughter ever. E.V.E.R.

And yet I was genuinely torn up about it.  Even on the night of the concert I still felt guilty I wasn’t going with her.

As I debriefed with Callum over the debacle, which really wasn’t a debacle at all outside my head, I realised how much time I spend feeling guilty.

And I also realised I was exhausted from carrying the imagined expectations of the world on my shoulders.

So in the spirit of Dr Phil, I did a guilt stocktake.

Major culprits include, but are not limited to:

  • Feeling guilty for needing time to invest into my marriage but not wanting to be a lame newlywed who disappears off the radar.
  • Feeling guilty for being tired from work and only giving Callum the dregs of my energy.
  • Feeling guilty for not helping more at church and in the community despite not having any time to do so outside of the helpy things we’re already committed to.
  • Feeling guilty for not seeing my family as often as I’d like.
  • Feeling guilty for not seeing my friends as often as I’d like.
  • Feeling guilty for wanting to stay home and do nothing at the end of a busy week rather than catch up with people.
  • Feeling guilty for watching Entourage because despite the fact that it is basically soft porn punctuated by drug abuse, I freaking love it.

And so the list went on…

So I have decided to draw a line in the sand.  I cannot spend the rest of my days walking around feeling like a failure as a wife, friend, daughter, sister, concert ticket scalper, Christian, mentor and professional.

I spent a long time mulling over the difference between living without the burden of unnecessary guilt and striking a balance between self-care and the privilege of duty and responsibility.

The reality is that there will be times when I need to stretch.  There will be times when I need to deny myself in order to love and care for others, but I cannot sustain this unless there is a degree of balance.

So here it is, folks.  My new guilt-free, low calorie, high protein, wholegrain, magic-filled, entirely-unoriginal-yet-completely-necessary, mental health manifesto:

  • I have finite energy.
  • I have finite time.
  • I have permission to say no.
  • It’s ok for me to invest into my marriage.
  • There is simply not enough time in the day for me to do all the things and see all the people I would like to.
  • I am more able to give, invest, contribute, love and receive when I am rested and healthy and have time to invest in creative pursuits.
  • The world will keep turning if I am not involved.
  • I am not solely responsible for maintaining relationships.  They are a two-way street.

Let me ask you a question.  Do you feel guilty?  Why?  What are the things that cripple you?  What should your mental health manifesto look like?

*NDN – like the NBN in the sense that it’s hard to get off the ground, a bit dysfunctional and super expensive**.

**NDN – may or may not be super expensive.  It all depends on who is making the dinner reservation.

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