A year ago the thought of turning 40 made me recoil a little. (A lot.) Today, on the last day of my 30s, I don’t think I have ever been as excited or grateful about having a birthday. THIS birthday. Here’s why.
- My 30s, bar a year or two, have been ALL about raising kids. Three of them. As my sister pointed out, I have been changing nappies, continually, for eight years. As of last week the boy is potty trained (with the odd poo in his pants). And whilst I realise I still have a lot of ‘raising’ to do, they are not the dependent beings they were. There are no more babies in my future. And I have slowly been sneaking in a little more time for ME. They say the 30s are about your kids and your 40s are more about you. BRING. IT. ON.
- Getting older is a blessing. If recent events have shown me anything, it’s that getting older is the most precious gift we’re ever given. I am grateful. SO grateful. Getting older gives you experience and that experience reminds you that you can a) get through anything b) do anything you put your mind to and c) light your first proper BBQ at 39 years of age (me, last night. Seriously, I feel as proud of this as anything I’ve achieved in the past year. Haha).
- Things don’t turn out the way you thought, and that’s MORE than ok. My plan at 40 was not to be separated. But, we are all doing ok. Daddy and I are finding our way, more peacefully. The kids are settled. And there is something REALLY invigorating about starting my 40s in a new, fresh place with a lot of the turmoil behind me. Things weren’t working, we have dared to change them and that motivates me every single day.
- A lot of stuff has fallen into place, just by chilling the F*** out. I am a completely different person to the highly strung 29 year old, who turned 30. Obviously. Three kids have mellowed me, beyond belief and made me realise that actually? The best things happen when you swim downstream, not up. When you accept things AS THEY ARE. And you choose to have a little faith in everything you do, rather than forcefully try and influence it. It will happen when it happens. And, if it doesn’t, it was probably never meant to.
- I have the career I always wanted, but it didn’t happen until now. I used to think if you weren’t sorted in your career by aged 25, it was game over. I couldn’t seem to get my writing gig off the ground. Traditional journalism didn’t suit me, for many reasons. But what I failed to see then was that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. And, sometimes, you need life’s rich tapestry to give you something worthwhile to write about. This has certainly been the case for me. At the ripe ‘not so old’ age of 39 I have a book deal. 39! Which says to me, it ISN’T over until the OLD lady sings. And it’s NEVER too late.
- ‘It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to.’ Historically, I am a dreadful birthday girl. Just ask my mum. I used to cry at my own parties because I was sad when I didn’t win Pass the Parcel or get a party bag (yes, I was THAT child). As an adult, I (unfairly) expected my other half to orchestrate the perfect birthday and, then, when he got the gift/plan/whole thing wrong, I would be a bit, erm, p***ed off. And interpret this as some sign that he clearly didn’t know/love me at all. Just me? This year? I’ve bought my own present – something I’ve wanted since I was 30. I’ve planned a week of celebrations – so many that my friends are starting to drop eye contact when they see me, in case I invite them to ANOTHER one. (Yawn.) And it feels really good to know what I want and just do it, myself. I will probably still cry, at some point. When I’ve had too much gin. Leopard, spots and all that.
- I am surrounded by the nicest bunch of people I could ever hope for. When you’re separated, your family and friendships become EVEN more important. I’ve made effort this past year to reignite friendships, make new friends and I have been blessed with people who I can count on, who lift me just with their smiles and make me realise my pelvic floor hasn’t reached 40 in the same positive way as the rest of me.
- I may fall in love again. Right now, this isn’t on my radar. But the possibility and hope is there. And it’s a different thought to falling in love in your 20s, when so much of your future rests on it. I have my kids. I have my work. So the next time I do this romance lark, it’s going to be for no other reason than me. And him.
- I am happy on my own. Let’s face it, no parent is ever on their own THAT often. But, as our separation has settled, I now find myself with regular weekly occasions where the kids are with Daddy and I am on my own. Although I’ve always been happy with my own company, it took me a while to adjust to this way of life, after so long of NOT having time. To enjoy it rather than work or clean my way through it. The past month, I have got myself back out there again. I have made plans. Socialised. And what I’ve realised? It’s pretty fun ‘back out there.’
- I’m not 50. But you can bet your life that, by the time I get there, I will find 10 positive things to say about that. Never look back. Always look forward. Because if you’re not looking where you’re going, you’re going to trip over.
Much love to everyone who has supported me this past year. And to my mum, dad and sister who have put up with me for 40 of them!