For the last few years now my Birthday Musings post has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve had a good run. After the bag of balls that were 2015 and 2016, things have really just got better and better since, and of course squeezing a hell of a lot of life events into the four years that followed meant there was much to celebrate – my first proper home, things settling down at work, an engagement, a pregnancy, then meeting my gorgeous baby boy. The highs have been absolutely incredible. But you can’t have the highs without the lows, so it was inevitable a less cheerful birthday would come to pass at some point, and that birthday has arrived.
Let me start with a caveat – I am still blissfully happy. I love motherhood with all my being, despite having reached the challenging toddler stage. And becoming parents has only made me more confident that I have met the person that I want to spend the rest of my life with, if only bloody Covid would let us do the deed and get married! So the good bits are still there. I’m still basking in that delicious state of contentment as far as the big life choices are concerned, and for now there are no signs of that changing. But while a couple of years ago I wrote that this new found happiness made me stop thinking about getting older, this year the world is on pause, so I’ve quite literally had all the time in the world to think about pretty much nothing else, and it’s got me in a bit of a funk.
I feel pissed off about turning 38, to be honest. Really, really annoyed. It’s not so much the age itself that has bothers me – it’s a pretty nothing age to be really, other than inching closer to the next big milestone – it’s the fact that I have to add another year to the tally when absolutely diddly squat has happened to me. The last 12 months saw my life grind to a halt. No work, no socialising, no travelling, literally nothing of note occured and yet I’ve still lost a year of my life and that doesn’t seem fair somehow. It doesn’t seem right that I have one year less left on this planet, and I barely left the house for any of it. And I know we aren’t supposed to say things like that, because we’re supposed to be forever grateful that we’ve survived this crisis, and of course, I am. I thank my lucky stars every day that we’ve been able to afford the time off, that none of my family have gotten ill and that Dan, Bailey and I have been gifted so much time together that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. But despite all that, I still feel cheated. I feel like I’ve had a years worth of experiences stolen from me, and I know everyone is most likely feeling exactly the same, but for some reason crossing the threshold from one age to another just really drives the point home and makes it sting all the more.
Perhaps if it had come at a different life stage I’d feel less bitter. If I was in my 20s and still felt like I had all the time in the world left. If I was in my 40s and had fully settled into this new life of ours. But right now, when we’re in the dwindling days of carefree youth, in that inbetween stage when the social occasions have lessened but we still have the energy and a small amount of free time to devote to ourselves? It feels like this was precious time I really didn’t want to lose. This was supposed to be my ‘fun’ year. We had survived the newborn days together and I was looking forward to stepping out into that world with a new found confidence. It was supposed to be my year to really start enjoying maternity leave. I should have had a happy 6 months of play dates and baby groups and catch ups over coffee and cake. I should have been enjoying the odd night of freedom now Bailey was getting big enough for me to feel happy leaving him with someone. I should have been making up for the boozy birthdays and celebrations I’d missed out on during my pregnancy. But, thanks to Covid, none of it happened, and now I don’t know if it ever will.
You see, we always knew that we wanted more than one child, and as much as I feel the time we chose to start a family was absolutely the right time for us, leaving it until when we did does limit our options somewhat. At our age a second child is not a guarantee, and if we’re going to have the best chance of it happening, we don’t have a huge amount of time to play with. We are getting to the point where we need to start making some serious decisions, and it feels like a bit of a sucker punch to know that the result of those decisions – as much as it will be a wanted and happy result – is likely to mean that the last few moments I thought I’d have to make the most of this happy state we exist in right now (Covid aside!) will vanish into thin air. That isn’t to say life will end if we have another baby, of course, I’m just painfully aware that life as a Mum of two will feel very different, and that I’m going to find it much harder to find that time to myself that I was so looking forward to getting this year. I guess I was kind of banking on a bit of a last hurrah, and I can’t help but feel sad that it’s not materialised.
I don’t like to end things on a bad note though, so let me just say that any fears I had about lockdown ruining my chances of having an enjoyable day were unfounded. My boys, my family and my wonderful friends made sure I had a special few days, from a surprise afternoon tea and cheesecakes, to wonderful gifts and a walk we’ve never done before that ended in fancy hot chocolates! It’s been a great reminder that whatever comes of the next 12 months, the people I have around me are more than I could ever ask for. If the last few years have taught me anything, its that what will be will be, but moreso that there are always good things to look forward to, even when it’s difficult to see them, so I despite my being a miserable cow for the entirety of this post, I have faith that 38 has some joy awaiting me.
I still think we all deserve a do-over of 2020 though…