Thoughts on Turning 36

Yesterday I turned 36 and whilst I still feel and look like I am in my 20’s, turning 36 and being only 4 years away from my 40’s makes me feel a little bit weird. I don’t know what it is really – I get that to age is a privilege and it isn’t really ageing that particularly worries me. In fact, I have found that with age I am enjoying the inner confidence, acceptance and contentment that comes for myself and life. I think that it is more that with that age, there also comes the passing of time and as I am constantly dreaming, planning and thinking of all of my capabilities and the opportunities that life has to offer, it leaves me feeling that time is flying by and there is so much I would love to do, see and experience in my life.

It has taken me literally since I left school until now (the last year or so), to really discover and realise the passions I have (both old and new) and the direction I want to take in life (outside of raising my kids). Not to mention the places I want us to be able to go together in this magnificent world.

I have for a lot of my late 20’s and 30’s drifted between so many interests that I thought I would have liked to have done, as well as living with several regrets of things I wish I had done when I was younger. But at 36 I realise that those were all things I felt right about at the time, or they were decisions I made with the knowledge I had in that moment – and that is okay! Some I need to let go – others I can still accomplish going forward. Whilst time is passing and the 40’s are approaching I am hoping that there will be the time to do the things I know I want to do now. I guess a lot of getting older though is coming to know ourselves in each stage of life and then tuning in and gaining the confidence to accept who we are and what we can do with that. Or, realising what was already there and owning it as who we are. It is a process and it takes time for some of us – to attune ourselves to realising what it is in life that lights us up, what brings joy and fulfilment and why we feel a certain way when doing those things. It takes confidence and awareness to then find the right time to pursue them or ensuring there is balance in our lives to enjoy the things that make our souls sing.

It is really enlightening and wonderful though when we do.

That process has been quite full on for me in recent years as I studied counselling. I am glad that that journey helped me really come to know myself, heal and see what I really want in life. It helped me be more understanding of myself and others and also content. I think that it is why now, on my birthday in 2020 and being 4 years away from 40, I find myself reflecting on all life has to offer us and all I am yet to be with this new awareness, passion and aspiration for things!

Even so, I am loving this current chapter of life at the moment (though it would be greatly enhanced if we could travel a little more). I feel quite content that even with all of the things I want to do and could be doing, I came to the decision that the priority right now out of all of them, was for me was to have another baby (and thankfully Mr Smith finally agreed!). With choosing that I have found the transition and prospect of babies and back into “SAHM mode” to be quite exciting. After having all the kids in school for the last year and working alongside it, I am glad to have both the opportunity to have another baby and make the focus of my life for now about raising and nurturing our kiddos. It is something I haven’t always seen the value in so much as I do now in this crazy world and in the past I even longed to do other things. Yes, I loved being with my kids but I also at times found it mundane and I often made myself feel like I was missing out on so many other things. I did do other things too to try and satisfy that – I worked in jobs that brought me new skills, new friends and experiences and of course, much needed cash for the family. I also studied and gained some smaller qualifications along side raising our family and I am grateful we were able to make that happen. But none of them (aside from my counselling) were ever “what I really wanted to do”, rather things I thought I did that filled a temporary need whilst I tried to find me – especially after our daughter died.

In the mix of the last decade (since becoming a mother) I have drifted around to try and find me whilst also raising our kids and finally, in the last few years I discovered that on a deeper and more fulfilling level. That discovery has helped me to see a clearer path and also to strike balance in life. Because I know myself so much better, I know where I want to be headed when the time is right. And, whilst I have other academic and career goals and things I want to do (and know I will find joy in), I can also set them aside and feel content in dedicating my time now to my kids whilst they need it. As a result I feel more joy and satisfaction than I used to as a mum. I appreciate them so much more and I am overjoyed to be having another baby to add to the fun and chaos of it all. I guess I am grateful to have found that life recently has brought me this greater appreciation for family & especially motherhood. I enjoyed being locked-down with them to simplify life, refocus and have the opportunity to teach them. Finding creative ways to have fun, imagine, learn and play made me feel more me and I discovered more of me in that. I did not enjoy the loss of freedoms at all, but I did enjoy being creative and imaginative for and with my kids and getting to know them better and it got me looking for new ways to incorporate that and be that type or mother in everyday life.

I do feel on birthdays and things that time is rushing by, but I also don’t want to miss these moments we share. So yes, there’s lots I want to do and yes those things will hopefully come in the not so distant future as it excites me to think of them… but I see that that same passing time that panics me that I am ageing and my list still needs accomplishing, has also granted me the capacity to appreciate me and the joy of being a mama a whole lot more. It has helped me to see my abilities and my capabilities both in life and with my kids and it has opened my heart to the great blessing and adventure of life and being a mum.

I wish I had seen this more so when the older 2 were very little and whilst I still found joy in the things we did years ago (and put in a lot of energy with them), I am sad I wasted time wishing it away for other things. I see that now though and I treasure the moments going forward. But, I am also aware that life is a learning curve, a journey and very much about adjusting and growing. I look at who I am as a mother and woman now and I love who I am becoming and what I can see that I didn’t so much before – I have certainly grown and seen who I am now and that is a wonderful gift and quite empowering.

My 36th Birthday

My 36th birthday wasn’t anything big or spectacular (though my thought process obviously has been). I wouldn’t even say it was that exciting. Being pregnant and having current “Covid restrictions” meant that I was pretty limited on what I could do and, even the small plans we did make to have a lovely walk around the grounds at Castle Howard with take away hot chocolates and cake were disrupted by our eldest needing to quarantine on Friday for 2 weeks. But, even so, it was filled with some treats, love and a nap! And, where I would normally be quite fed up (birthday’s are a big deal to me) I finished up the day feeling rather content and happy – taking with me a few things to look forward to which will prolong the celebrations and having a lovely day with my little family.

Yes I wish I could have had a night out with Nathan for a birthday meal or to the theatre, but an Indian takeaway whilst watching “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” was lovely too (such a great film by the way).

I wish I could have had a lunch or movie night with my sisters and friends but again it is something to look forward to in the future!

As I reflect on another birthday I realise that I have a huge list of who I want to be, what I want to do & where I want to go in the future. But right now at 36, I love the life we have created and continue to build; the interests we have and I am very much happy with (and feel right about) where I am, what I am doing & life generally. Approaching 40 makes me nervous, but the next 4 years hold so much potential and opportunity it is also exciting to see what unfurls for me/us.

Right now though, I can’t wait to see where my 36th year takes me, what adventures I embark on and what lovely moments I get to be a part of with family and friends.

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