Friday 4 May 2018

32 and Feeling Older

On my birthday last year, I had the realisation that I was still just winging it. When you’re younger, you assume that all the adults around you know what they’re doing, but when you are old enough to be one of the adults, you realise they don’t. Even the most put-together people seem to be barely holding it together if you look close enough.

This time last year I was trying to juggle working with looking after a baby. I was trying to figure out the balance of life with two children, desperately trying to meet everyone’s needs without losing my mind. Oh, and I was sleep-deprived, so sleep-deprived. I felt like I was sleep-walking from one day to the next with no idea of what I was really doing. I was in the inevitable survival mode of life with a baby, just trying to make it to bedtime each day with little thought for the future.

This year feels different. I don’t think it’s the gift of growing older, rather I think it’s that my children are a year older. Ember is out of the baby stage and now a fully fledged toddler with an attitude. Ebony is that little bit older and that little bit more independent which is both wonderful and heartbreaking. Life is getting more manageable. I still don’t find as much time to work as I would like, but I know how short the years are before school starts and I intend to make the most of them with Ember.

I feel older now. Not wiser, but definitely older. The years are etched out on my face in a way they weren’t when I was in my 20s. My smile gives me away, forcing my eyes to crease at the sides, reminding me that time ticks on. I see the occasional slither of silver glitter hidden in my fringe, caught in the sunlight streaming through the glass in the front door as I check my reflection in the hallway mirror. My body is betraying me, growing old before I’m ready.

Sometimes I feel ever so grown up and other times it is like I’m just pretending. When I attend parents evening and sit on one of those tiny plastic chairs I can’t help but think how ridiculous it is that I have a child old enough to be at school. Ebony tells me I am old, she can’t believe I’m turning 32 tomorrow, it’s Just So Old. And sometimes I do feel old. I ordered a shed the other day and that felt like a really grown up and painfully dull thing to do. And my body is certainly getting older. I ache and I make weird noises when I sit down.

When I turned 30, people kept telling me how wonderful your 30s are. They said I would shed pointless friendships, stop giving so many fucks and make peace with who I am. I’m not sure whether that’s true or not for me, yet anyway. I think I have made some changes to my friendship circle since I turned 30. I don’t think it’s an age thing though, rather it’s just that I now have two children and so my spare time is pretty rare. I don’t want to waste it, I want to spend my days off with people I value and who I feel value me. I have stopped putting effort into friendships that felt one way, and, equally, I have put more effort into nurturing some friendships. Looking around at my friends, everybody seems to be doing the same.

I’ve gotten better at knowing what I need and how to make myself feel happier. Now that Ember is a little older, I’m able to find a little more time for myself. Not much, but enough to do things like read books and watch movies and go running. I’m getting better at recognising when I need a break, when I need to switch off from family life and just have some headspace so I can be the best version of myself at home. And I can tell when Laurie needs to do this, too. I think after the initial What The Actual Fuck period of life with two kids, we’re finally doing an ok job of parenting again. Life as a parent is constantly evolving and throwing new challenges in my path, and I finally feel like I can handle that a little better than I have in the last year or two.

I am a planner. I like to know exactly what’s going to happen and when. I don’t know why. I wasn’t even aware of this part of my personality until after Ember’s birth. Before then, I’d have described myself as easy going but her birth made me realise how important control is to me. I’m now learning to let go a little. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know where we’ll be living in ten years time or what my work will look like then. There are a lot of unknowns but I’m finding that, as I grow, I’m ok with that.

So, 32. Just. So. Old.

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