A couple of years ago, I was walking home from a dinner with some colleagues. Behind me, I suddenly heard a man’s voice screaming and roaring: “You damn whore, damn fat pig.” I turned and saw him; his words was aimed at me. He looked shabby. He kept shouting: “Fuck you, so ugly you are. Fucking whore. You’re the ugliest I’ve seen! ”There stood a man acting like a living commentary field from the internet. He went on and I turned and went, somewhat trembling, home. The man of 50+ was obviously sick (?), This is not the main theme of this post, but he got me thinking, and I remembered the Norwegian folk tale about the pig who wanted to change his way of life – a folk tale that fits perfectly in the transition to the new year and all the plans you have to change your life. In short, the folk tale is about a pig tired of living on leftovers and sleeping in mud, while the other animals on the farm get both grass and clean sleeping places. Therefore, the pig goes to the judge in the city to be sentenced to a new life. The judge thinks the pig comes with reasonable wishes and decides that the pig should sleep in a silk bed and eat peas. The pig, so happy that it gets a curl on its tail, goes home and hums to itself about the new life. But the fox hears this and whispers about eating leftovers and sleeping in mud, this interferes with the pig’s humming and when he returns to the farm, the other animals ask how it went. Happily, the pig tells them that he is going to sleep in mud and eat leftovers. Lonely, he goes into his home and lives happily. He has been both seen and heard and what more can you ask for? I was also seen, perhaps not with the focus I wanted, but what can you demand when you have long passed the limit of being young and promising?
The main point of what I want to write about here is to be alone, whether you are a fat pig or not. This Christmas my son and I have chosen to be alone, it was perfectly OK for him, although we could feel the pressure that we should have been more people, we should have been with the “big family”, because then there might have been more gifts under the Christmas tree and the food was a little too much for the two of us. I had been standing in the steam from the oven throughout the day and the Christmas dinner was done in twenty minutes and we opened up the presents at a very slow pace to make sure the evening would last.
I became a mother the first time when I was twenty, a single mother. In the mid-1980s, a single mother was a shame. At least, a political party that is currently sitting in the government, claimed that. “Women became pregnant to trick money from the state” it was alleged. I did my best to avoid this stamp that a single mother had, and sometimes I even pretended not to be a single mother at all, because the shame put many obstacles in a further conversation. Should it happen that there was a rare time when there was a single father, this was a sign of a miracle of a superhuman, imagine that a father could sacrifice his career for his children in that way. (A mother who left her children or who couldn’t take care of her children was so bad that it wasn’t even mentioned). Being a parent was also almost the same as not having a career. It happened that there were examples of women who handled both being a mother and having a career, but “we” didn’t completely trust that it could be right, it suspicious, there had to be a cheap servant in the form of an au-pair who stood in the shadows. It sounds like I’m talking about the last century, and I do, but not more than thirty years back.
The second time I became a mother I was 35, again I chose to be alone, but now there was nothing unusual about this. On the surface, it is now accepted that you are a single mother or father, I mean, the Crown Princess of Norway was a single mother before she married her prince. Still, it seems to be alone is like a small system failure in society. The structure of the family and the flock is still stuck in everyday and public life. There are times in life when you should be alone, such as when you are young and seeking, but not when you are an adult, when you are approaching matriarchate age, the head of the family, then you are almost stamped as outlawed if you are alone . It feels like the thirteenth fairy who is not invited to the party of Sleeping beauty.
In my work as a storyteller, I see in the old myths and folk tales that it is the traditional family that forms the basis for the survival of the stories and the community. The stories end in a wedding, a union between two families, an alliance that ensures survival. The traditional story come from something normative that exists to cultivate a community. In the stories, there are events that lead to loneliness and isolation, but it is usually transient and present for the young heroine or hero to begin with blank sheets. In Greek mythology, for example, you have the Greek goddess Athene, born out of her father’s forehead. The war goddess is alone, but she is a simple case. Daphne in a Roman-Greek myth wants to live like Athene, but the only way she can do this is by giving up her femininity and becoming a laurel tree. In Norse mythology, Frøya spends a lot of time alone, but she does not want to. Her husband is constantly traveling and Frøya cries bitter gold tears over the absence of her husband.
There are lonely characters in the folk tales. The trolls are often portrayed as the solitary living in isolation filled with riches in caves and with no sense of interior design, these are misanthropes who rob human children to try to annihilate humans – without children humans do not survive. We think the trolls eat people, but I have not found a single folk tale that tells it, but of course – the stories are told from the human point of view, the collective man, then man is the victor and the lone troll loser for breaking the collective idea of how to build a society. But otherwise there are the lonely old wives who are spread out in some folk tale forest with a nose in the ashes and who will give you grandmother’s advice. She is there as a “volve” over the cradle of wisdom and cultivates her solitude in nature among talking animals and winds.
I have chosen and prospered in my solitude, despite that I live in the middle of the city (and not in the woods as in the folk tales), and called a fat pig. It costs to be alone, as parents are you in a dual role. Still, I have no need to go to some judge and have my lifestyle changed as in the folk tale above. But next Christmas we will probably be more people, after all it was a bit too much silence.