Against all odds I survived the day of my big birthday. I’m not usually bothered about my age. Obviously I’d like to be 25, or perhaps even 35, rather than the age I am, but as long as I’m healthy and still get away with wearing jeans, I’m not that worried about the advancing years.
Apart from this time.
For some curious reason I was absolutely dreading the forthcoming birthday. It was a landmark one, that may be one reason, but then I’ve always maintained that it’s the in-between years that are hardest.
At 25 I felt as if I had to be a grown-up. I should know exactly what I wanted out of life. I didn’t. I’d just got my first serious job in England and felt like an inexperienced kid in the office. I’d just got married and was trying to cope with being a naval wife. Everything was new to me; my life, my job, my friends. I felt far from being in control of anything.
By 30 I was a happy mother of a toddler and was expecting my second.
At 35 I felt as if life was passing me by. With two small children in tow, I was constantly chasing my tail and tired. I was in a job I didn’t want, a house that was falling apart but no funds to refurbish it, and body that was beginning to show signs of ageing. I went on a diet that year.
At 40 the children were older and I got more sleep. I felt young and full of energy. I spent the birthday skiing in Finland with good friends.
There was another mini-crisis at 45 when I realised I was closer to 50 than 40.
So I guess I’ve been smarting for this birthday for a few years now. But, my friends, it was OK! My family created a wonderful day for me, champagne and good food and brilliant company throughout the day. Because I hadn’t wanted a big party, or in fact had asked everyone just to forget about the day, it was wonderful to have so many cards and flowers and presents. It was as if the day was a surprise to me too.
And today – the day after – I feel more energetic than ever. I’ve been running around the house putting up pictures, clearing out boxes of files and organising books. I got the builder to make a small bench out of some old church pews we had inherited from the previous occupants of this house. Having admired the pine, which he reckons is over 100 years old, he even made some shelves out of the bits we couldn’t use for the bench.
Next week this house will be on the market. Though I’m sad to leave this place with all its memories, I’m also excited about the future. More importantly, I don’t feel any older than I did the day before yesterday.