If I am honest, I began today – my 32nd birthday – feeling a little bit sorry for myself; feeling fat, old and broke. But after a wonderfully ordinary day of custom art presents from two very talented monsters; a shortened work day and a cheeky late afternoon nap I remembered something.
I remembered that I don’t actually give a flying &*^%…. (sorry kids, my mum reads this).
You see, I could write you a list of 31 things I learned when I was 31 but we all know I’ll get too bored by the time I got to point 5. And I’m pretty sure everything I’ve learned in the past few years is pretty easy to sum up in a few short sentences.
- I can do it. I have done it. I will continue to do it. And the people who matter know I can do it as well.
- Gin is truly delicious, and the more gin I try the more delicious it seems to become.
- Motherhood is the most complicated adventure I will ever embark on, I may as well enjoy the ride as perfection is not an option.
- I prefer to be healthy, even if it means eating less cake. However I loathe wasting my time on bad food.
- I am an extremely ambitious person in ways my younger self never imagined.
- I like attention.
- I am not infallible.
Oh look, I made it to 7.
But tonight I packed my kids in the car after tea, even though it was after pj time and took them to my favourite place. I need more of that in my life and less of the other stuff. Because if I can’t now, when will I?
Next week I turn 32.
Growing older has never been an issue for me, probably because most of my life I have done things while being younger than my counterparts…
But 32 feels different.
32 feels old. I don’t know if it’s because now I have a grown ups’ job, or because very soon both kids will be in school (and no longer the “very young” moniker I am so comfortable with giving them). I don’t know if it’s because it’s coming up for a decade since I said yes to Phil on one knee or if it’s the number itself that feels different.
But 32 is definitely not 30, and absolutely not part of my twenties.
Which is fine, your twenties are over rated. And 29/30 were my most confident years, despite being difficult ones. But 31 … Well its had other challenges and lessons. And maybe that’s it. I’m more aware, more humble and more ambitious than I’ve ever been.
There are moments when time feels like it is slipping through my fingers. The boys seem bigger every time I look at them; my goals seem unmanageably time consuming to achieve.
And I worry. I worry that the time of being considered young, slightly attractive and fresh is almost passed and the glass ceiling is ready to reveal itself.
But, as some colleagues recently reminded me, I take no prisoners and accept nothing less than what I want. So maybe 32 and I will get on just fine.
My eldest son, E, is intelligent.
I know, all mums think their little boys are the cat’s miaow, but he is.
In fact, I have learned that is difficult to discuss a gifted child without trying to simultaneously highlight any faults you can think of. Otherwise it puts people off; makes the conversation seem competitive; or just makes you feel like that mother.
And believe me, I’m not her.
But he’s intelligent and things at school are easy for him. At 2 E would comment that his pineapple pieces were trapeziums. At the start of year 1 he passed an end of year 2 maths test (but, when he couldn’t explain why the answers were right they held him “back” to do year 2 maths). He reads novels in a day, while many of his friends still struggle with picture books.
The trouble is, he’s my boy. So like me before him, he doesn’t know how to deal with things that are hard. He is unfamiliar with hard work and struggle makes him question his understanding of himself. But he’s 6. And what I can personally guarantee him is that there will be hard things. He won’t win every race and he won’t be the best at every task.
How do I teach him that is ok? How do you breed resilience in a child? How do I lead him to defining himself as more than his abilities?
And how do I have the conversation with other parents without making it sound like I think my child is a prodigy?
(“oh the wonderful things Mr Brown can do”)
the rain is incessant. I should expect it really, it’s winter in north west england. It’s just that I always forget to expect it. I always hope for sunshine. I much prefer the frosty cold weather we’ve been getting, because it’s been bright. bright is so important to me. yesterday I was brave and defiant – I convinced my husband & mother-in-law to walk a 6 mile return journey to the ‘grandparents’ farm. we made it there dry (but having heard more repetitions of an awful electronic sounding ‘pop goes the weasel’ than anyone ever wants to hear thanks to eden’s steering wheel pram toy)… but returned home soaked rats. Except for eden who was fast asleep in his warm dry pram.
But today, today I couldn’t make myself go out. The puddles in the field behind our house were getting bigger by the minute. I know we have waterproof clothing designed for this weather… but sometimes you just don’t want to. So we didn’t. We played with his ride-on fire engine and his farm and watched veggie tales… and were generally very lazy. i think sometimes lazy is OK.
During naptime, however, I began my annual duty to my former employers… some graphic design for an annual report. I’m not qualified or very experienced, but every year they pay me to do it. And I think i love it. I think that when we have money I want to train in it so other people will pay me too. I like making things look good. I like having a ‘job’ to do. Something more than the dishes & the meals, etc. I like those too. In fact, I like my mundane, no my ordinary life & role much better when it is interrupted by something outside of it. It makes me better at being mummy. It makes me better at being me.
But off I go. The husband is hovering. Something to do with cheese. The things people pay us to do!
“There’s an old notion, and I’m beginning to think it’s true, that moral beings can exist only in communities. Perhaps it’s because of the idea that true virtue has nothing to do with rules and everything to do with roles.” (Utopian Dreams, Tobias Jones).
Words like ‘rules’ and ‘roles’ aren’t very welcome these days. He’s a bold man to use them. I don’t know if I agree with his thoughts, but they provoke me. They slightly coincide with discussions I took part in last night based on ‘Nooma’ videos… which provoked a lot of thought about who I am – which is much different than who I think I am. You see, I think that who you are is defined by what you do – far more than what you believe.
I am a typical member of my generation, and I seem to spend so much time making lists & plans… wasting time and hiding from anything of value. Trying to do things I’m passionate about is a risk, and so I’ll often find myself hiding behind meaningless tasks.
Living with people always (i think at least) results in the division, conscious or otherwise, of roles. I do this and you do that. That’s how it works, whether we like it (which I generally don’t) or not. Unfortunately I see no other option but chaos in its place.
And no, I’m not actually posting about polystyrene.