The Tragic Heroine.

By Alison February 16, 2007 49 Comments 7 Min Read


Ouch. This morning I woke up to a comment that fair old sent me reeling…

Hi All, After reading this blog for a number of months, I’m beginning
to see a pattern. Alison, do you realize you seem to be defining your
entire existence by "having someone". A man of your own – and then you
will be happy. Other people don’t bring happiness, you bring your own
happiness. To expect others to make you happy is unfair to them and
setting yourself up for heartache. We are in charge of our feelings –
no one makes us unhappy – we allow them to. At least from what you
write (what else can I go by) your life is defined by the males in it –
your father, your long-time partner, your son, the obsessed man, the
weird postman etc., etc. You have your women friends but they don’t
take on the importance of the males in your writing. I also sense that
you are rather enjoy this "tragic heroine" role you’ve taken on. Be
careful it can become a life-long role. Before everyone jumps to your
rescue saying I don’t know what I’m talking about etc. I say, yes, I’ve
been through abandonment and heartache but what saved me from the
"tragic heroine" role was going to a good counselor and moving on.
Alison, you sound quite depressed and no amount of house cleaning, or
"puttery treats" is going to help – as you now see. Anyone who spends
huge amounts of time in bed or longs to be there is depressed and needs
a little bit of professional help. It really does work. One last thing
before I am labeled "unfeeling" (which I am not) or "rude" (actually
I’m quite polite) is that children can sense when adults are down and
when things aren’t quite right. Your depression is bad for you and your
little one. I hope you can take a giant step by getting some help and
make some positive changes in you situation. My best, Alyssa.

Well blow me down with a feather duster.
Never ever never have I felt the urge to respond to a comment before, even when Alyssa saw fit to pontificate about our roles as Mothers after I spoke of my relief at putting Finley into part-time nursery..

"Hello, all you "Mommies" – if that what you should be called.  Why did you have all these "precious" children?  So you could send them to nursery school the moment you felt a little stressed?  Do you like the idea of someone else raising your 3 year old?  I’m amused how you all justify shipping them off and "out of your hair".  What do you think "mother-hood" is all about???   It is about being an adult and accepting the responsibility of taking care of the little being you brought into the world.  Of course it’s stressful – but most rewarding things are.  Most of you consciously made the decision to become pregnant so I suggest you act like grownups and not try to sugar-coat or "cute up" what you are doing.  Little ones should be with their mothers, NOT a day care worker.  Hope you all have a nice nap.   Alyssa"

Hmmm. Stropsville isn’t in it.

However, Alyssa is, like all of us , entitled to her opinion and the very nature of blogs allows us to both start  and become part  of  a  wider discussion.  And so discuss I’m going to…

I am a writer. It is what I do and the main part of my income comes from this blog. Writers tell stories. They shape their worlds the way that best elaborates on the story they have come to understand their readers want to hear. Very rarely do they find themselves having to justify their chosen subject matter because those who take issue with it have the very real choice not to read it.

At the risk of undertaking some  too close for comfort self analysis, to a degree Alyssa is right: in the past twelve months, much of my life has been defined by the men in it, because it is what I have lived through in a way I have never had to live through before. My little boy is suddenly a little person, and a highly intelligent and indeed demanding little person at that, and I spend twenty four hours a day with him, with very little respite. My Dad is my bestest friend, always has been, always will be. The break up of my fifteen year old relationship came suddenly and shocked me to the core. The only relationship I have had since then was precious and over. I don’t need to go into the details other than to say that it was for both of us kinda magical but time and geography got in our way. Big Fred, my stalker is a nuisance, but he isn’t dangerous and he is just one more thread in the comedy act that is the trials and tribulations of being suddenly single in a world where men like Steven, my pervy postman, see fit to take advantage.

Most of the time I relate these stories because I see an element of both humour and humanity in them and they also demonstrate very clearly what it is to rediscover your sexuality (Sorry Mum!!) after fifteen years of having it squashed by somebody who wanted to possess you. It’s a roller coaster in a fairground I’ve never had the pleasure or nightmare of riding before…

However, I don’t consider myself to be "defined" by anybody- male or female. But yes Alyssa you are right- very rarely do I discuss my relationships with the many women in my life. And you know why? Because these are women with stories that are not mine to tell. Their daily lives are just like ours, and I do not see it as my role to describe that which we all live through, nor relate other women’s very private tiny catastrophes and major traumas. These women read me every day, and if you look deep enough they are there, but they don’t want to find themselves on the page. I respect that.

But does that mean I don’t respect the men I write about? Of course I do: but these are men who know what I do, accept that they are part of my story and expect never to find themselves named or indeed shamed, and I truly hope they never feel that I have taken advantage of them. Heart break or no heart break.

So where does this leave me as the "tragic heroine" Alyssa so eloquently  describes? Is that how I see myself? Nah…

Some days I am downright bloody miserable. Some days I am happy as Larry. Some days I am just OK. I’m just like the next woman- in different and occasionally trying circumstances: the difference is that I choose to very clearly describe where I’m at and while that may occasionally make for uncomfortable, rather self indulgent writing, I have no qualms about continuing in the same vein because very rarely do we come face to face with the truth about emotion and I have plenty of proof that my own truth is appreciated.

So where does depression fit in all of this? Do I consider myself depressed? Not right now. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have experience of the so called noonday demon. This isn’t  something I have ever chosen to discuss on BrocanteHome before: I suppose I always thought it rather diluted my work, made me too human, or something equally as despicable. But if the truth must be dragged out of me, then I will admit to having suffered the exhausting trials of depression, mostly due to very particular circumstances and hardships. I have been prescribed Prozac. I have been offered counselling. I have weighed more than I could ever have dreamed possible and I know what it is to struggle to face another twenty four hours. But not now. Not now Alyssa.

My obsession with my bed exists because it is the cosiest place in the world. I like the fact that there is a very private sanctuary in my house to retreat to at the  end of a day when Finley has had me  tearing my hair out or money worries have had me in tears. I fill my days with puttery treats because they and writing here, are my very own forms of therapy: of seeking the positive in circumstances those who know what it is to walk in my shoes wonder how I survive. I have taught myself to see the positive and to make life as scrumptious as possible, and I am lucky enough to have established a world other people see as inspirational.

I am daring to reach for the stars. Step by step in my own silly, daft, occasionally tragic way. I suspect the ability to admit to experiences with depression are part of understanding that the minute we compromise ourselves, the minute we say that didn’t hurt and tuck away the pain inside is, in fact, the moment when we stop feeling at all, and is the very reason why there are so many grey women in this world- women afraid to want more, ask for more, even goddamn it, scream for more. I’m not ashamed of being passionate about who I am. And I will neither apologise for it, nor censor myself in the future. I am who I am.  And more than that?  My son is  an astonishing, delightful, confident reflection of that….

All comments are of course entirely welcome in response…


  1. hester says:

    The reason I read your blog every day is because you are wonderful and human and honest. If people don't like what you write, then they don't have to read it… I dislike the judgemental tone of the woman who wrote the comment, and hope that she is happy in her perfect, tidy life which does not feature unruly babas, cosy beds, puttery treats or a pervy postman 🙂

  2. Sarah says:

    I have also been reading your blog for some time now. Obviously there have been times when we all realise that you have not been your usual self, but we listen to you as we would our friends, not only because you kinda feel like that, but because our "physical" friends (at least mine) are like that too. Nobody is every up all of the time, or down all of the time. Sometimes things just get a little too much Alyssa and it just helps to submit it to paper (or blog), that plus the lovely men in Alison's life (Finn and her Dad) as well the no doubt wonderful women in her life see her through.
    Women from all over the world read this blog, we laugh, we get angry, AND we also realise that Alison is a great writer… so we empathise and we comment, in our droves.
    Alison, yours is a great blog, possibly because it invites so many discussions. Keep at it Queen!

  3. Meredith says:

    Having good days and bad days is part of life. Reading about it from a wonderful writer in an honest fashion is refreshing. It's how we reach out to one another. The world isn't as it used to be, where mommies were home all day and could pop into one another's home for coffee and a laugh or cry. Families don't live nearby always to help us out. It's an isolated society more and more. The internet and these blogs are our ways of making connection. Frankly, I would hate reading a blog where everything was always sunny and rosy and perfect, because it would ring untrue, for the writer and the reader. It's a gift to have someone else you don't even know (face to face) share their thoughts, feelings, struggles, and triumphs. It brings us closer and also helps us feel less alone.
    Thanks for doing all that and more Alison. And for making our worlds a bit more cozy and beautiful in the process.

  4. Amy says:

    I suppose all this time any of us had any problems or wanted to vent, all we had to do was go to Dr. Alyssa for a diagnosis and treatment plan!

  5. Elaine says:

    Ummm … I have 2 things to offer:
    1. The rather vulgar saying, "opinions are like a….oles – we all have one". Of course Alyssa's opinion is every bit as valid as anyone else's and the comments feature does invite the expression of them, but I do wonder why post something so fundamentally rude. Yes, rude – this is someone's journal, someone's thoughts – not a work of fiction for critique.
    2. I think the way that the comments are couched are very passive-aggressive, particularly in the first instance, considering a recommendation of counselling and a diagnosis of depression are on offer. The second comment is just snark – I suggest a longer ladder for Alyssa to get over herself.
    I love what you said in your last paragraph Alison, carry on rocking the hell out of your life 🙂

  6. Randi says:

    My Dear,you are us and we are you and we are all together…If Miss Alyssa has a blog, I doubt if it is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Carry on with your head held high. If someone doesn't like the contents of your blog, they are free to not read it.

  7. Susana says:

    What is this woman talking about? I think possibly this reader is suffering from "Mommie Martyr" syndrome and rather enjoys being looked at as the "Martyr Heroine". I am the stay at home mother of 4 boys ages 4 and under. I take care of them and love them with all my heart, However I would absolutely go banannas if I didn't have a hobby or something else to do besides attending to the children, house, and husband all day, everyday. We need an outlet. We're human, not robots! The women of yesteryear had their quilting bees and such because they too needed an outlet. It's good and healthy for us. Be realistic Alyssa. Just as you are afraid that Alison is depressed I am afraid that you are going to wake up one day, your children all grown and gone, and you will look in the mirror and not know who you are. If it seems to you that Alison is defining herself by the men in her life, then it seems to me that you are defining yourself by your children and that isn't fair or healthy for either you or them. The passion and tone with which you wrote your nasty comment to the "mommies" seems really like a bitter cry for help. Alyssa, just know that there is life outside of changing dirty diapers and that yes, it is ok to enjoy it. Honest.

  8. Oh gosh, does that make us all depressed tragic heroines? I had better tell Alexandra Stoddard to rip out of her lovely 'Living a Beautiful Life' book the section on how important the bed, and bedroom is. India Knight the same in her book The Shops. Whatever next, I mean really! Oh I could go on and on and on with my opinons on how you are just FINE, more than fine as you are. But I won't. I will just say that I am so glad that you can just turn round and say 'no, that's not me at all you are describing in your comments' rather than be stifled or hurt by such comments. Sorry to ramble on, but really, REALLY do people feel justified in such things? I am off to fluff my pillows and make my bed all ready in defiance!

  9. Cookie says:

    All I can say Dear Alison is "YOU GO GIRLFRIEND !!!" "YOU ROCK !"

  10. lazy h says:

    Well, I'm sure Alyssa's comments yesterday were kindly meant, if personal, based on her reading of the blog.
    I guess there's also a connection with the discussion the other day, about how 'true' one can be when blogging. Perhaps Alyssa felt that she 'knew' Alison through her blog in a way that she couldn't really.
    I don't know. But I do love reading this blog and I am grateful to Alison for writing it.

  11. Carlie says:

    Wow, ladies! Feeling a little bitter hatred at Alyssa for having stepped on Alison's toes? Whew!
    First, I'd like to say that obviously I love what you write Alison and I'm so thankful for this blog. I read it every day, devotedly.
    Secondly, while we may think Alyssa is wrong…lets not dismiss her as Evil Incarnate out of hand. She is after all a woman, just like us. And I think she means well. It is a fairly brave thing to ask someone about depression, I've thought about it several times when concerned about friends and never had the guts to say anything. IF, you had been depressed, her comment might have been the permission you needed to let go and get help. But, it wasn't…you're fine! So, be it! That's great…you did the right thing…you told her how you feel and now you need to let sleeping dogs lie. Who knows where Alyssa is coming from or what her story is, we need to not make her into Enemy Number One for suggesting something that didn't happen to be true here. Defining yourself by the men in your life would also have been a bad thing, if you were doing it…but again…you weren't, so no worries. Its not like her concerns were invalid and wacky…they just happened to be unfounded in this particular case.
    I also, deeply enjoy your honesty. What is life without the ups and downs? Please continue to feel and write, deeply…
    You have all our love and support Alison!

  12. jane says:

    "I am not ashamed of being passionate about who I am." Nor should you ever be, Alsion. We all respect your honesty, and you.
    I think ol' Alyssa has some anger and resentment hanging out of her knickers, and we all have become witness to it. Happens to the best of us! Just continue on your wonderous path, Alison. You will always run into the likes of Alyssa. Just step over her and enjoy your journey.

  13. Alicat says:

    Hurrah to Alison.
    For some reason I cannot figure out, odd people will try to fix every problem in your life for you — via the comment option.
    Sadly, a lot of women are the most judgmental creatures on the face of the earth. This is quite apparent with your 'lovely' commenter.

  14. Alicat says:

    Hurrah to Alison.
    For some reason I cannot figure out, odd people will try to fix every problem in your life for you — via the comment option.
    Sadly, a lot of women are the most judgmental creatures on the face of the earth. This is quite apparent with your ‘lovely’ commenter.

  15. Gail says:

    The healing is in the identifying…Alison, you strike a chord that resonates with your readers. You dare to say that sometimes life is messy and hard.
    My sister and I have a joke about how we were raised, "Sure your arm's broken, put your sweater on and go to school." Some people are very uncomfortable about anyone saying "I'm in pain" (like pain and suffering are contageous) but how much do you learn from the friend who denies all difficulties and struggle?
    PS: I *love* my bed (peach satin under those white cotton sheets!), and when I make my bed in the morning I tell myself that soon I can get back in. And truly I'm an anxiety kind of gal, never really do depression, so there goes *that* armchair diagnosis.

  16. K x x says:

    I can't quite believe that somebody actually has the ordasity to comment on your life in such a rude way. I have read your blog everyday for several months and think that as well as being an amazing writer you sound like a fab mum (and vintage housekeeper). You are a real inspiration and the fact that you write from your heart is what makes your blog so popular. Keep up the good work!
    P.S. Does this woman not realise that pre-school is actually a very important part of letting our babbas grow up in an environment that is fun and safe for them before they go to school etc. I feel sorry for any child that is kept at home 24/7 and then put straight into school without so much as a social skill to get them through their first few days. My daughter loves pre-school and knows most of the children who she will go to school with because of it, which is not only great for her but reassuring for me as a mummy too!

  17. Carrie says:

    Alison, the first time I ever de-lurked to post a comment in your blog was in reaction to Alyssa's comment about nursery school. And now again I feel the need to pipe up from my shadowy corner. As I said in that particular comment, my 18-year relationship blew up in a remarkably unexpected way just a few months after yours did — and I also have a three-year-old. I'm sure you can understand why I love to read your blog — I'm always nodding my head in agreement and saying "I know! I know exactly what you mean!"
    Anyway, one of the first things I did after my husband walked out so cowardly was to reclaim the bedroom as mine. It's now 100% feminine, with cozy chenille and florals on the bed, new pillows, etc., etc. It's also now my favorite place to be, to read late at night in peace or write in my journal. (Heck, like last night, it's also the best place to cry when I need to.) I also bought new flannel pajamas — so my bed is now my refuge too!
    Keep on writing for you, not us. The reason you have so many devoted readers (lurkers or not) is because we relate to your honesty, humor, dreams, style, and humanity. And please don't *ever* accept advice on your mental health from total strangers. In my opinion, offering said "advice" is outrageously presumptive, not to mention rude.
    Thanks for being you, Alison, we wouldn't have it any other way!

  18. Gayla says:

    What to say? I am one who usually, if not always, gives the benefit of the doubt and mercy to anyone unless they are mean spirited. I belive Alyssa to be sincere and well-intentioned and it really doesn't matter what I believe anyway. As for you, honey. You, of all people, need no "definition" by anyone else, including your adorable son, your sweetheart daddy, or the men you've loved and touched. You define yourself, as we all do, by the attitudes, conscious and unconsious decisions of living amd choosing joy, despair, puttery treats, staunch determination— whatever it takes to get through the day with your soul and spirit intact. Your blog is your business, and it is therapy to us, as well. We define ourselves whether we agree with you or not on certain topics. I don't think you ever expect us to be little willy nilly puppets who are the "same as you"—- fat chance of any of us accomplishing that feat because we are all individual delights of our own belief structures. But agree, disagree, or not sure yet, I hope you know that most, probably all of us, love you dearly and appreciate the honesty you bring into our lives. A breath of fresh, polka-dotted and beribboned air in our own lives.
    The only caution I agree with, wholeheartedly, is the one that intimated children see beneath our facades. They do. They also know that we are doing the best we can. No amount of counseling, denial, drugs, or dealing with our problems makes our lives into perfect little cookie cutters for our children to snuggle into. Even those of us with "perfect" childhoods come across some shocking toads in our kingdoms and have to learn when to quit kissing them… I ramble because I love you… which is also why I'm stopping this with a hug for you, Alison… and a little smile for Alyssa, as well… BrocanteHome is one of my favorite sanctuaries on earth. Thank you for sharing your soul and hugging us with your heart, Alison.
    Gayla in Missouri

  19. Anne says:

    YAY for Alison! I love your writing just the way it is. Your sense of humor and wonderful way of looking at the world come through all the time. Even if you're having a bad day, your readers see the IT that you have. Thank you for sharing yourself just the way you are!
    MOST of us are here every day because we revel in your stories, your outlook on life, the same up&down approach to housekeeping we all go through, and your puttery treats. We cry with you when you're sad and rejoice when you're happy.
    You'd probably drive yourself nuts if you tried to respond on a regular basis to any readers that are hanging around to stir things up, but I'm glad you did this time. Maybe it's possible this comment was from the best of intentions, but Alyssa's snarky "so called mommies" comment doesn't start things off very well, does it?

  20. jennicakes says:

    Well, Alison, Alyssa's advice was certainly well-intended. But sadly, it read too much like regurgitated, self-help, women's magazine nonsense for it to strike a chord with me, and I think the same is true for the other ladies who've commented.
    Maybe a sort of textual analysis of Alyssa's comment seems kind of cold, but, like you pointed out, you are a writer, and you're a great one because you follow the well-worn "write what you know" rule. And that might not make you the woman Alyssa wants you to be, but that's okay. Nobody should be asked to apologize for the content of their life experiences.
    And finally, I wouldn't come to Brocante Home if I thought you let men define yourself. Yours is pretty much the only housekeeping site I can think of that has an "I'm doing this for me" vibe, and I appreciate that so, so much.

  21. Amber says:

    I disagree with jennicakes (sorry,dear) when she said that Alyssa's comments were well intended. The hair on the back of my neck stood up when I read her comments and saw no well-meaning in the way she phrased anything.
    I love your writing and reading about your life is a little bit of paradise for me. I'm disappointed everyday that you do not post. I value the honesty you bring to your blog and wish I could superimpose some of that onto myself. You are truly valued in the blogging community and Alyssa is the one who should stop wasting her time and the space on your comment section polluting the world with nonsensical judment. I think the world has enough of that already.
    Love you.

  22. Amber says:

    I disagree with jennicakes (sorry,dear) when she said that Alyssa’s comments were well intended. The hair on the back of my neck stood up when I read her comments and saw no well-meaning in the way she phrased anything.
    I love your writing and reading about your life is a little bit of paradise for me. I’m disappointed everyday that you do not post. I value the honesty you bring to your blog and wish I could superimpose some of that onto myself. You are truly valued in the blogging community and Alyssa is the one who should stop wasting her time and the space on your comment section polluting the world with nonsensical judment. I think the world has enough of that already.
    Love you.

  23. Betty says:

    I'm standing on my chair and saying Hooray for you. I absolutely love your blog. I love it because I have been where you are. Married for a long time to someone who never grew up, divorced him and raised three children. I am finally happy with my soul mate and that is what I wish for you. But, I too love my bed in my bedroom where I read and dream up all kinds of things I can create. Your blog is wonderful and has inspired me so much. Writing is cathartic and I think it is good for the soul! So if someone thinks you need therapy…tell them this is your therapy!

  24. Amy says:

    I personally think that with your very open post Alison it's nice to see that you are human like the rest of us and I mean that in the nicest possible way 🙂

  25. Jean says:

    I agree with most of the previous comments, but would like to add one more thought. You've done a great job handling all that's happened in the last year, and seem to have learned a great deal from it all, but is it possible that you might be on the edge of bringing even greater things into your life than Brocante Home or Alexandra Stoddard have addressed? Would you consider looking into something called the Law of Attraction (and might any readers familiar with it wish to post about it)? It's an idea I stumbled into three years ago, and recently the "Oprah" show in the U.S. did a couple of nice segments about it. You come across as a very smart and emotional (in a good way) person, and the crises of the last year might be a push of sorts to more fully realize your potential. You've already accomplished so much, and I hope that the future returns all of the good you've put out.

  26. Danielle says:

    Oh Alison I don't even think I need to say anything about her comments on you do I? You're just fine and dandy and will continue to be no matter what life throws at you. You're very stable, we only have to read your blog to know that. Actually I'm more concerned about her. Alyssa, you had me at the beginning of your comment. I thought you were a little misguided but there was an odd kind of sense in what you were saying. But the bit at the end? About children? What stage of Motherhood are you currently at? You know, it's OK, really OK, to give yourself and your children a break from time to time. They need it too. I wouldn't hand my first child over to anyone, ever. He was over a year old before I left him with his grandparents so my husband and I could have an evening out. I thought I was doing the right thing by him. I was his mum 24/7, always, and I was determined never to let him out of my sight. He might feel abandoned or rejected if I left him, right? That's what I thought.. Now I am onto my third child and I have learnt a valuable lesson. Time off is important. It's crucial if you want to be the best Mother you can be. If you don't allow yourself some me-time, and you try to be patient, kind, caring and understanding all day, everyday without a break… there will come a point where you will snap. Your calm, kind, "martyr-like" persona will crack under the self-imposed strain. Is that going to be good for your children? Alyssa, if you have this attitude to Motherhood now, when your children get older and want to push their teenage boundaries, you will become one of those resentful Mothers who says "I gave up everything for you and this is how you repay me". Or maybe you have said that already? I sincerely hope you can see what your comment so blatantly shows the rest of us.. please book yourself back in with that Therapist. If reading Alison's blog is bringing up painful issues for you, spare yourself the hurt and don't read it. I see it as a positive, uplifting blog. Even during times of drama. Our perspectives seem to be very different.

  27. Rhi says:

    Alison, I came accross your blog nearly 2 years ago, just before the birth of my daughter – I now read it daily! You are a source of joy and inspiration to many of us. I was a doctor before I was a vintage housekeeper and I have days (many!) when I would happily take to my bed – I wouldn't say that I'm depressed or need a counsellor! Having children and being at home ( a wholeharted choice for me) is a fullfilling, yet very busy life and I feel we all need some 'me time' now and then . I don't think there is anything wrong with this, and none of us should feel guilty about this! I am Rhi, the wife, Rhi, the mother, Rhi the daughter, and also Rhi-, the person that I am! – I'm not ashamed to admit that I love a bit of time to myself! Hang in there Alison, you are doing just fab! You seem to react to situations as they majority of us would and I would take the comments with a pinch of salt!

  28. Alison, good on your for having the guts to tackle this post. Your blog has been a joy to me since I discovered it and I look forward to reading it daily. It has given me ideas, receipes, recommended reading, etc. that I never would have known about. It has also made me realise there are other women out there who think it is okay to be a housekeeper. Believe me, there are a lot of women out there who do not think it is acceptable and we should be out there earning our share of the income.
    I envy your writing skills and your way with words. Who wants to read about a blog full of misery and complaint or one full of happiness and sugar candy. I cannot speak for everybody, but life is certainly not like that and that is what I love about your blog. If you have a bad day you tell us and vice versa with a good one. You are merely letting us know about the men that are in your life and I have never once thought that they are defining you.
    Regarding being a so called mommy, I don't know about in the UK, but in Australia children have to attend kindergarten at the age of 3. It is good for their social development and gets them ready for school. It also allows Mums to do things like the grocery shopping in peace (not a child's favourite activity) and for us to also get to know the other mothers there and form networks of friends for our children. I suppose it is a sin too if you have to go back to work due to monetary constraints and put your child in full-time care. I suppose it would be better to live in poverty and be there all the time for the child. Come on, there has to be a balance. I unfortunately had the recent experience where my daughter did not want to stay the night with her grandparents. Since we moved to the country, she does not see them very often and I have not had the opportunity to leave her with a baby sitter, so that made me realise she needs to have more experiences away from me, so that she feels safe away from me.
    I have also realised that for a stronger relationship with my husband, we need time out alone away from our children as well as time with them. But doesn't my husband deserve my time, just as much as my children or should I devote every spare minute to them and let the relationship with my husband fall apart? One day my children will leave the nest and I would hate to think that I had no friends to have a coffee with, interests to continue with or a working life to persue.
    As for suggesting the word depression and Alison having to justify what she has done regarding this, I think is down right rude. Alison comes across as a very intelligent person with loving parents and I think this would have probably been either thought about or discussed and I do not think it is your place to bring it up. I have also seen lots of posts about her women friends. Some that come to mind are one that has gone through a break up, a hens night, etc. not just posts about men. She does not want to give away personal information about her nearest and dearest.
    As for the bedroom thing, wether it be your bedroom or another room, don't we all need a sactuary where we can escape to and dream and make it all pretty and cozy? I love your writing Alison. It is so refreshing and enticing, so please do not change.

  29. We all have to make decision that are right for us. I think maybe Allysa has found a life that is happy and wants you to be happy too, so she tells you "what you should do". Not a particularly mature, but certainly not evil.
    It seems to me that you are blessed with a loving family, wonderful friends a fine mind and a good heart. You will not only be o.k. (no matter what!), you'll be better then great. Because that's how your mind works…not ordinary but extraordinary!
    God bless you and the very cool little guy you have.(Does he really talk like that? Is that a British thing or is he just some kind of gifted child? His little comments crack me up!)

  30. Cherished says:

    Well, I say, good on you, Alyssa, for finding the courage to say what you said. It brought our Alison out even more…hee hee. I agreed with all that you said, Alyssa, you also have a good head on your shoulders, but I also believe that it was misdirected at Alison.
    I see Alison with such strength of character, and I admire her for NOT going to a counsellor, and for NOT taking Prozac, and for 'healing' her heartache with Puttery treats (Alison, your mam is probably like my dear mam… "when you're down, keep yourself busy…" It works very well..). Besides, there are those of us that love housekeeping whether sad, lonely or blissfully joyous and live and think and breath housekeeping (picked up some delightful decanters yesterday, which I hope to fill with something colourful, draped with pearls and silks..)
    I also see Alison May as well balanced and level headed. There is a lot of talk in this day and age and a lot of psycho babble. Our mams and nans never had the luxury of feelgood doctors and treatments and 'counsellors'. They talked to their mams and nans, and dare I say it ~ even their dads. Their good old dads! (I often disclose much of my heart to my dad. I talk with him about different things than I do with mam. They are intrinsically different and I love that about them!)
    I also enjoyed what you wrote about being a mamma, Alyssa, and I agree wholeheartedly with you. We choose to be mammas. It is our responsibility, not another's ~ to care for them. At the end of the day, though, if a mamma is better for her child and her family, because she has had some time to think, clean, shop, whatever, then so be it. Not a thing to take advantage, of and neither, I feel, should we EXPECT this luxury. It is a privilege to have somebody (preferably close freinds or family) take care of our children when utterly necessary.
    I think you have both been so "grown up" about this. I hate to hear other gals call you or get nasty with either of you. It's yukky.
    Anyway, all the best to both of you. I love hearing from your hearts…

  31. Jean says:

    Cherished, you are aptly named. Would that we all were so gracious in spirit.

  32. judy says:

    Your blog is such a bright spot in my day!
    Just wanted to tell you that.

  33. Angel Jem says:

    Alyssa is entitled to her opinion, and i have to say the response it elicits from you and eevryone else makes interesting reading. Are you defined by your relationships with men? Yes, we all are. I'm a wife, mother and daughter and those three strands are part of what makes me me. But they are not the only things that create me and, I think, neither are they the only things that define you. Take the criticism, think about it and choose to accept or refuse it according to your values and insight, Alison. You seem to be doing alright to me, at the moment, and I hope there are even sunnier days ahead for you, but you are first and foremost a woman and you know yourself better than anyone else in the world.

  34. Wendz says:

    You're right – you are lucky enough to have created a world that inspires. Your blog is a little haven from my stressful days…and an inspiration to me.
    You'll never know how many little changes I have made at home because of your blog..and of course all those fab links you post. How visitng here lifts me up.
    I am not going to comment on anything else – you said it well enough and so have your other readers.

  35. Linda says:

    Alison, your "Brocante Home" is a wonderful place to visit, and escape to for a "refresh", thank-you for making even we lurkers welcome.
    My spare bedroom on the other hand has boxes of Christmas decorations scattered around and even the Christmas Tree, complete with decorations and Angel still on top, is stuck in there somewhere. There are piles of clothes that the kids have outgrown and are waiting for me to sort out and send to the Chairty Bin. The windows need cleaning and there are families of dust bunnies thriving in the corners. It is not somewhere I like at present so I am chosing not to go there.
    Is this too cryptic for unsolicited critics?

  36. I don't agree with 100% you say on your blog but it's YOUR BLOG and you may say WHAT YOU WANT. If I wouldn't want to read it, I wouldn't come here every day. I respect who you are and what you think because I do the same with me. In my blog(s) I post what I want.
    If others opinion lift you up, ok. If they don't, it's better to ignore them because we have enough, on daily life, to knock us down.
    Get up and carry on.

  37. Cindy says:

    Hi Alison and all others!
    I love to read and share thoughts and fellings with Alison and you all! We are all so devinely human! There's a saying that goes: One person shapes the other: good or bad….You, and others, Alison, shape mine and I know , others aswell! I feel like your friend and you make me feel that I'm your friend although we 'never met"….A true friend may and must always tell the truth, in a loving way….you just tell us who you are and how you feel and think about things and respect others aswell…now…that's not seen much on this planet is it? I love your blog and postings: they reveal the real Alison!

  38. Colette says:

    I read the Alyssa comment and for a moment I wondered if I was reading the same blog…
    I think you're a puttery treat. Don't change a thing.
    And someone up there wrote: "Are you defined by your relationships with men? Yes, we all are."
    Really? We ALL are? I think not.

  39. Colette says:

    I read the Alyssa comment and for a moment I wondered if I was reading the same blog…
    I think you’re a puttery treat. Don’t change a thing.
    And someone up there wrote: “Are you defined by your relationships with men? Yes, we all are.”
    Really? We ALL are? I think not.

  40. Annie in Kentucky says:

    To Alison the Beautiful & Brave —
    How true what Randi posted:
    ". . . you are us and we are you and we are all together."
    What you do here MATTERS so much to so many. I am but one whose life's journey is enriched by the sharing of your own.
    I thank you & I APPLAUD you —
    Woo Hoo, You Go Girl!!!

  41. Danielle says:

    Just another quick note to say, Cherished, I wish my first reaction had been like yours. How understanding and gracious you are. I was having a 'hormonal' day and I was outraged that someone dare talk to Mrs Brocante (as we call her in our house) so rudely. But now my hormones have settled down I realise I was quick to judge. (My claws are still ready though Alison, lest anyone else wish to take a swing at you) x x x

  42. Karla says:

    Count me in for another non-depressed bed-lover.
    I love your stories. I don't see any of the things Alyssa described and I have to agree with Hester who said her comments are very judgmental – especially since she doesn't live in your "real" world to know what is story and what is life.

  43. Nonnie says:

    Really I just want to say that I agree with so much of what has already been written. Brocante home is the most wonderful place and reading what you have to say each day is one of my daily highlights. You've been through a horribly tough year and I think you've handled it extremely well. Everyone has their own way of dealing with things. Alyssa obviously has her way, and is entitled to give her opinion, but it doesn't mean she's right. You are an inspiration. Don't change anything about yourself or Brocante Home.

  44. Helen May says:

    Let's stop pussy-footing around here…
    I clearly have a different perspective on the life of Alison May because I am her sister. But I am also a mother, a daughter, a partner and am really rather saddened by Alyssa's comments. Alyssa, I think your comments have failed to provide any guidance for any woman anywhere. When any human being chooses to comment negatively on the life of another, uninvited and without personal involvement, they achieve only one thing and that is to reflect an image of themselves and their own lives and personal inner conflicts. I am the first person to shout out loud when I think somebody is being frivolous – because I myself am prone to the odd bout of frivolity. Opinionated people can annoy me to the core – and if you ask anyone who knows me you could never meet anyone as opinionated as me. Are you with me here? It is sad Alyssa, but your opinions are misguided, misplaced and completely misinformed. Are you a doctor? Because I fail to understand how you can diagnose depression from a blog. There is, I am sorry to say, a personal unhappiness that resonates from your comments. When we are dissatisfied with our own lives it can often be quite satisfying to make judgements on others whose lives seem equally or more troubled.
    Alison is my sister. She is neither depressed nor defined by the men in her life. It is wholley naive of you to believe you have all the facts to judge anyone from what is essentially a poetic refelction of her life. She is fine. She's doing things her own way, which is all we can ever hope to do – to be true to ourselves.
    And finally, I am a mother. More than that I am a bloody good one. I am divorced and I have a new partner. I work full time and my son, who is my best friend in the whole world, often has to go to a childminder. He spent the last 3 years full time in nursery. He spends many school holidays with my parents. Every other weekend, he goes to spend the weekend with his father. He is in bed by 7 o'clock each night. And I love and appreciate every minute I spend with him. BUT I also love the evenings out I spend with my partner while my son is with his father. I adore my job. There are times when I count the minutes until I can put him in bed because I/he/we have had a bad day. But that doesn't make me a bad mother. It makes me a better mother. Every day I watch weary, sad looking women who gave up their identities years ago to be a "mother" or a "wife" miserabley dropping off their children at school. I on the other hand, am always ready for work, normally late, always dashing along – but me and my son, unlike these women and their children, laugh as we dash, chat as we dodge puddles or reflect on how many days there are until the weekend. I'm a good mother because I'm me – and that requires time for me to be me and not be a mother. It doesn't mean you are a good mother because you follow archaic guidleines of motherhood.
    Integrity and unconditional love are the only things any child needs from their parent. Ever. Keep going Al. and don't let such "Daily Mail reader" comments get you down. You're better than that and don't have to justify yourself to anyone.
    Alyssa, I truly, truly wish you happiness and peace.

  45. Kate says:

    Well how hypocritical can you be, on one hand it is so wrong for anyone to judge your sister but OK for you to say because you work that makes you a BETTER MOTHER! How dare you judge stay at home mothers like that we have not given up our identities but have made a choice to devote our time to our children. And for you to say you and your son laugh and chat on your way to school usually late which by the way is the most annoying thing when you are the class teacher waiting to start the day! unlike us in our misery who obviously find it so hard to drag ourselves out of bed. As for your sister I'm sure she is a very good mother but when she sees fit to dump her three year old son in her next door neighbours garden when the man isn't even up and would quite happily make him play with him as she has to condition her hair and eat a croissant in her candlelit living room because she matters more, and then invites people to ring social services if they must, joking I know but when I read this I was horrified that someone could be so selfish. I didn't comment at the time because I realise people raise their children in different ways. I feel your comments were just as bad if not worse than the original comment left by Alyssa.

  46. Sue says:

    I am also one of those lurkers here…one who scours about wearing the anonymity of cyberspace like a warm cloak. But I feel I must chime in. I adore you Alison. Your honesty and human womanness is a joy. I have read far too many blogs where Moms and wives portray themselves as veritable saints…when I see them as martyrs. When oh when will we, as women, refuse to beat up one another?
    In Alyssa's comments, she was doing what so many others before her have done, denegrade another woman. What do so many persist in this?
    To enter into someone's journal/blog and offer unsolicited pearls of wisdom (Tarnished pearls at that)is, in a word, rude.
    We all read your blog daily dear Alison because you are fresh, human, real, special, bright and witty. You are, as you say, a writer and as a writer (I am one as well on a smaller scale) you may choose to tell the tales you see fit in the way you choose.
    Alyssa seems to be one reader who missed the boat.
    Please do not change a thing Alison…not a hair on that gorgeous head of yours.
    You have your champions here…many more than you realize!
    With warm hugs,

  47. lazy h says:

    Hello Kate
    I read Helen's comments quite differently to you. She seemed to me to be saying that working and spending time with her partner as well as with her son made HER a better mother – not anyone else, just her. And I don't think that she was denigrating stay-at-home mothers but instead felt sorry for those of them who she felt were trying to cram themselves into a mould which did not fit. (I hope that you don't mind my presuming to answer on your behalf Helen, and correct me if I'm wrong.)
    This is a blog; Alison shapes it for her audience, us, and we enjoy it. It's not a documentary! She doesn't tell us everything! Nor is it a prescription for how we all should live our lives.
    I'm not a mother, but I think it must be very hard to be one if you are unhappy, and I must say I am fed up with this working mothers vs stay-at-home mother debate. Surely we can all follow our own paths, making choices to suit ourselves and our families and not getting cross with or jealous of other people because they take other paths?
    Now I'm going to have a nice cup of tea and calm down; perhaps you'll all come and join me?
    Best wishes to everyone.

  48. lazy h says:

    Sorry for that little outburst, and Kate, it wasn't intended to be directed at you personally and I hope that you didn't feel I was attacking you.
    It just upsets me when perfectly nice and reasonable women start sniping at each other over their life choices. I think we should stop it, and divert our energies to something more fulfilling and/or useful.
    That's all I have to say. Now I'll shut up. Not before time.
    Peace and love x

  49. Helen May says:

    Dear Lazy H,
    You read me absolutely right. I wouldn't comment or criticise anybody or their way of life. My comment is – as it was in support of Alison – that we must all be true to ourselves. And by living my life the way I do I am being true to myself – and therefore that makes ME a better mother. Different horses for different courses. I do see women at the school who look sad (that is not to say that they all look this way!)and I do understand how they feel – I too spent several years at home and found myself to be lonely and unhappy – as you so rightly say Lazy H – trying to fit into a mould in which I clearly didn't belong. And to clarify, my child has never been late for school once – the lateness I refer to is me to work – my child always comes first.
    I think many of you are missing the point here. And that is that we are all women, in many different situations, all with our own different struggles. We should all support each other because we are all doing the best we can in the best way we know how. We shouldn't be judging each other. I for one would never be so bold to criticise someone else's life – from an early age I've been told "Never judge an indian until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.". And perhaps that explains my adverse reaction to Alyssa's comments – and now Kate's. Be kind ladies. As I say, we are all doing the best we can.

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