I’m slowly making my way through the marvellous Scummy Mummies podcasts at the moment, recommending them to everyone I know for laugh out loud affirmations that you are not alone in not being the perfect mother. One of my favourites so far has been episode 76, an interview with journalist Miranda Sawyer, who talked about her book, “Out of Time.” Miranda observes that a midlife crisis these days doesn’t necessarily mean a sports car, affair or round-the-world trip, but is more often played out in the home and sometimes, in our generation, with small children around. Makes farting off to Vietnam a bit difficult.
We all know what Miranda means when she speaks about “Death maths”. I started doing the sums the moment I laid eyes on my first child and my overwhelming hope was I would die before him, but not for a very, very long time. As Miranda says, the seesaw has tipped. We all know this feeling: “It’s as though you went out one warm evening – an evening fizzing with delicious potential – you went out for just one drink… and woke up two days later in a skip. Except you’re not in a skip, you’re in an estate car, on the way to an out-of-town shopping mall to buy a balance bike, a roof rack and some stackable storage boxes.”
I’ve had many moments like this. I found myself at a festival at which Jeremy Vine was in attendance. I once described the arrival of my new Dustbuster as a “bit of good news.” I’m at an age where I’ve started making self-deprecating, Julie Walters-esque remarks to young male shop assistants. I spend most Saturday mornings listening to 1980s tunes before nipping to a kitchen tile shop or a swimming lesson. It’s like 13-year-old me versus 43-year-old me, on a daily basis. I am reaching for the stars but somehow I manage to find myself in Halfords car park again. Only recently, WW and I abandoned a planned trip to the travel agent to talk weddings to shoot off to the recycling centre then onto Carpet Right.
But middle age has such benefits. I feel such warmth and fuzziness watching the slightly crumpled Boris Becker and John McEnroe on TV at Wimbledon. I have a stack of memories that I didn’t have before. I don’t hold with the notion that we only have the present and the future and shouldn’t waste time looking back. The past is suddenly huge and as long as it’s not stopping you moving forward, then treasure it. I have friends who I no longer see but who I think about daily, about what they taught me and how much we laughed. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to, because I have small children as an excuse. I can curl up in a ball night after night if I want. Or I can get a thrill from nights out that had started to wear off in my early 30s.
I don’t think it’s much different than being a teenager, full of trepidation about what the future holds, what being grown up means, what lies ahead and where you will end up. Every age is a beginning if you let it be.
I haven’t fallen backwards arse over tit yet.
I’m still on the seesaw.