I turned 31 on Monday. And for the first time in forever, I actually approached the event feeling excited about the fact I was getting that little bit older. I almost felt – can you believe it? – wiser.
Because birthdays are a bit of a pain, aren’t they? Nobody really wants to age, as somewhat morbidly, it means you’re moving away from the irresponsibility, innocence and fun of youth and slowly towards your own inevitable wrinkly demise that will ultiumately result in death. ARGH. Not much to look forward to there.
But like it or not, aging is what we do, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it (unless cryogenically freezing is an option yet?). And so it’s best just to get on with the process, dealing with the whole thing as gracefully as possible.
Easier said than done, unless you’re Kate Winslet or Helen Mirren.
At every previous birthday, though the long arm has ticked over for one more year, I’ve still felt somewhat… young. Like, although I celebrated my 30th birthday last year with approximately four different parties on two different continents, I didn’t feel like I’d grown. I felt like I was stuck in the mindset of a 17 year old, a state I’ve been for the last 13 years, feeling surprised each time I bought booze and didn’t get ID’d. I was always sure of the fact I was a fraud each time I did the school run. I wasn’t a grown up. I was a teenager stuck in the body of an adult, Freaky Friday-style.
But something has changed this year. I’m not quite sure what – is it the joy I get from filling my ISA rather than my wardrobe? My sensible car choices? My avid insurance policy comparisons? The fact we haven’t been late for school even once this year?
I think that, each year since my divorce, I’ve had the feeling that at each birthday my life isn’t where I expected it to be. Birthdays are introspective times, periods where you analyse this stuff, wonder if you’re truly happy on the path you’re travelling. And until now the answer to this was always ‘no’. Simply put, I didn’t like being alone, and I still felt a large amount of pressure and guilt over the fact my children were going to be brought up in a single parent family.
But, having had some ‘Eureka!’ moments about my divorce in the last couple of months, I’ve come to realise that any guilt I felt over the breakdown of my marriage was misplaced. I think it was important to feel it and to come to terms with the lone parent thing, but the marriage split – I now know that wasn’t my fault at all. And that realisation is liberating. Like the weight of the world has been lifted.
Everything else fell into place in time for my 31st birthday. I still worry too much about silly things, but really – look at how good I have it! I share my life with the best children in the world (apart from earlier this week when they had a physical scuffle over who got the orange cup in IKEA, then they definitely weren’t the best children in the world), I get to do a job I love – heck! I have the capacity to make money around my kids – how awesome is that? I have the best friends and family, AND Soho House thought I was cool enough to give me my membership back. I am SO thankful to live my life this way, I really am.
30 was hard, 30 was not the easiest year I’ve ever had. But 31 – it’s going to be the one. Even if it’s not, I’m a grown up now and don’t take no crap. Come at me, 31.