Today I turn 35. Halfway to 70. I know that whilst I was growing up that anything over thirty felt so old and so far away but now that I’m here, in my middle years, it feels like life has gone so quickly up until this point and I am willing it to slow down just a little. I want to stop and appreciate life before I find myself another ten years older.
But I do feel, at 35, like I know myself quite well, I understand life well enough and not much really surprises me anymore. So I thought I would write down some of the things I’ve learnt in life so far:
Silence makes me happy. Not when the children are around – I love the sound of them talking, laughing, playing. But, when I’m by myself I love silence. I love to work without any music or the TV on and focus so much better when everything is quiet around me.
That said, I am always most productive working in a coffee shop with the hum of people around. I think it’s the adult equivalent of white noise.
Politics is important – and I learnt that far too late. I always said I just don’t do politics. And I now know that really isn’t the right attitude. Everyone needs to do politics at some level – even if that level is purely voting. Voting is important, politics is important and our children’s future depends so much on everyone having their say – and their vote. Who or what you vote for really doesn’t matter – as long as it’s the right choice for you and the life you are living.
Managing Facebook groups has taught me that you cannot please everyone all of the time and you often have to please the majority of people. But sometimes you need to go with a wild card and have the back of the person that needs it most or doesn’t have anyone in their corner. Basically – you just need to do what you think is right in any given situation.
Cinderella was right. The most important things in life, and the most important things to teach your children, are to have courage and be kind. I didn’t realise until recently how much better I feel when I speak up, when I call out things that aren’t right and when I have the courage to stand up for what I believe in. A lot of that goes hand in hand with being kind, showing compassion and having empathy. There’s a lot to be said for just being nice.
School runs are tedious. The school term routine gets boring very quickly. But, they are some of my favourite moments in life too. I love sitting in the car with the children before school, parked up for ten minutes before the gates open, reading books or doing spellings. So many people don’t get to take their children to school or pick them up – I’m thankful that I do and I will never take that for granted.
I’m never going to love Star Wars or scary movies. As much as my husband would roll his eyes at my lack of interest in anything Star Wars related I realise now, at 35, that it’s just not going to happen. We all like what we like, we can’t force ourselves to like things if we just don’t like them. And that is fine. It would be a boring place if we all liked the same things.
I love weekends with no plans. As much as I love my job and appreciate it, my job makes life so busy. I have to pencil in days and weekends of doing nothing – or just doing jobs around the house – for everyone’s wellbeing. You cannot go full steam ahead for months without any time out.
Saying yes all the time doesn’t work for me. I tried saying yes to more and it was great but there are times when you just have to say no. Balance is important.
Diets don’t make me happy. But, being healthy does. I’m happiest when I am active, when I’m running around with the kids or going for a run around the lake. When I’m living a healthier lifestyle I sleep better, I have more energy and I feel like I have more time. When I’m slimmer I’m happier because I’m healthier – not because my clothes fit better.
No-one can keep all the plates spinning all the time – something has to give. Getting a cleaner was one of the best things we ever did.
As much as I love a bit of pampering I will never be able to get my nails done regularly, have my eyelashes tinted continuously or do anything else physically that needs maintenance and money. I know now that there is always something else to spend money on and my priorities will always be days out and experiences over my hair and nails. So I save those things for a treat at times when I really appreciate them.
That being said, I love my own company. Having a week by myself in Wales last year taught me that it’s good to be alone sometimes, to do your own thing and just exist without other people around. It’s nice to go where you want to go and spend time at your own pace once in a while.
Everyone has some level of mental health issue which is something I didn’t appreciate for a long time. Everyone has something that has affected them in some way, weighed them down or niggled at them. Talking often helps but, you have to find the right person to talk to and the right time to do it. I am sure there are some things I’ll just never talk about.
I find it hard to commit to things regularly. With my job I can agree to a day somewhere, a weekend somewhere or an evening doing something. But, I can’t commit to doing something every week at the same time. It will never happen and so I would rather not agree and let someone down. This is a big reason why I will never join the PTA – although I look like I have so much time I really don’t – and am constantly juggling the pockets of time I do have.
Life is short. You have to be happy in life and you have to be happy with what you have. I spent so long always looking for the next thing, planning the next thing and looking forward. Now I’ve realised I need to spend time just being in the here and now and appreciating what we have.
When I think about my childhood I have no idea where I thought I’d be at 35. I had never really thought about anything past my teenage years. Back then I was dead set against marriage and having kids and now, so many years on, life has changed immeasurably.
I am really happy at this point right now. I have a beautiful home, a husband and two gorgeous kids who are nice, polite and just the best company. I have a cat who annoys the hell out of me but gives so much love for nothing in return. I have a job I never even dreamed of that I can’t imagine loving more. I have a reliable car and at least one holiday a year.
I am 35 and I feel like this is where I’m meant to be. There is nothing more I could want, nothing else that I feel I should have achieved by this point and nothing I regret – doing or not doing. It’s a really nice place to be and I feel pretty content. It’s taken a long time to get here but life is pretty good.
Now, where’s the cake?