Let me start by saying that I don’t feel 52. But what is 52 meant to look like?
I remember hosting my mum’s 50th Birthday at my house when I was just 26 & pregnant with my son Charlie. 50 just seemed so old, almost like the older you get, you don’t need to have fun, or see your friends as much, like you’ve got one foot in the grave. I can’t really describe it.
What I DO know is that I have a whole lot more living to do. Places to go, things to learn & people to teach. In these next twelve months, I am planning on studying & getting 2 qualifications, becoming my fittest & healthiest self & really stepping & growing Me Time to its fullest potential.
I think I am more confident in myself than I have ever been, I don’t seek the outside validation that I once did, I am learning to not call my past experiences as regretful but to understand that they are life lessons.
Everyone has choices & there are many sliding door moments. A split-second decision can change the course of our lives forever.
I understand now where I was at in my life when I got engaged at 24 after just 3 months of dating, getting married at 25 & then had my beautiful son at 27. I thought I was mature enough & in some ways I was but I still had so much growing to do personally.
I am very grateful that I grew up in an era of no mobile phones or social media. Being a teenager is hard enough without having the constant pressure of being accessible 24/7. In my ‘memory box’ I still have notes & letters I used to exchange with my bestie in class & my school diaries that have all of my ‘loves’ coloured in & immortalised 4 eva.
The only photos of my firsts are in my head & not emblazoned all over social media for the world to see.
Having a child at 27 & then becoming a single parent at 30, I often felt like I was on a different page to my friends, they were still out partying & living the nightlife & I had terrible FOMO. I wish I had embraced the present more & stopped worrying about missing out when I was only missing out on a terrible hangover!
I looked for love in all the wrong places when I should have been learning to love myself.
Looking back now on those ‘in-between’ years, boy oh boy, did I have some fun, I learnt a lot of lessons & had many adventures. I led a double life & thank goodness for my ‘mum’ weeks so that I could rest!
I was eternally seeking, running on empty, grabbing every opportunity & working my hardest to give myself & my son a good life.
Between November 2006 & May 2007 were some of the darkest days of my life. My mum passed away, I was working casually having resigned from my job as I was burnt out, my live-in partner decided it was all too much & walked out leaving me with rent I couldn’t afford & grieving.
To say that every day was struggle is an understatement. But I got myself up, got my son to school, moved to another unit & got myself a job. A good job where I was challenged, some good & some bad & where I made some fabulous friends who I still see today.
I worked hard, having to prove myself every day as there were those who tried to undermine me & bring me down. But I kept going & was rewarded with being able to travel overseas to HQ & work with our US team.
During this time, I had my primary school reunion. My friends & I helped to organise it. You know how the saying goes, give the busiest person the job and they will get it done!
In the lead up to the night, my girlfriends were teasing me about seeing my primary school boyfriend of two weeks & that we would connect again. Don’t be so bloody ridiculous! As if! That kind of stuff only happened in the movies!
Well, guess what?
In the movie of my lifetime, it does happen. We chatted; he drove me home & asked me out for the next night. The rest as they say, is history.
We took it very slowly & he didn’t meet Charlie until 7 months later. We didn’t socialise with our friends for 5/6 months; in fact, his friends were wondering if I was real. There was definite hesitation on his part & I don’t blame him. It wasn’t just me he was taking on, and he had been doing his own thing for a long time. And he always wanted kids of his own & I thought that I was done.
But for whatever reason, I just knew that this spiky haired, football club loving hero & I could build a nice life together, so I persisted.
We moved in together, Charlie’s dad moved to the country, so Charlie lived with us full time. That was a lot for us all to adjust to.
But with every hurdle thrown at us, we have jumped it & moved forward. I came around with the baby talk & we fell pregnant straight away. It was a busy & terrifying first few months with travelling & waiting for our ‘geriatric’ pregnancy results.
Receiving the happy baby results was a massive relief & we went hell for leather on renovating our house & getting it ready for the next stage of our lives.
Summer Alice was born on the 11th of February 2012. Peter & I were both 42 and her big brother was 15. Once again, I felt like I was doing things as I should or as others were, but I didn’t care. She has brought so much joy to us and makes our family complete.
Financially I was much better prepared this time & loved my twelve months maternity leave at home. There was never any doubt in my mind that I would return to Nike but when the goal posts were moved, I took the chance to seek other opportunities. I had the best of both worlds, Summer was enjoying her social life at day-care, I was back to working & being productive & we also spent days at home together.
Having a baby at 42 is way different to having one at 27. You do the math on, how old will I be when they…leave school, get married, have a baby etc. It makes me think about my mortality. I want to be healthy & live until I am well into my 80’s, I want to see & be apart of all the things my children will experience.
Because both of my parents have passed away, mortality & life expectancy are a very real thing for me.
I always thought that I would work for someone, work hard, earn an income & help to build a good life for us. Isn’t that what you do?
But I took it too far. I worked too hard & the hours were too long.
I lost myself & my perspective.
There was no life balance.
There was no rest & there was no me time. And to be honest, there was no financial reward for it.
Summer had a nanny. I thought I was doing the right thing.
I had always worked when Charlie was little, but I had to, I didn’t receive any child support.
But mental health isn’t about the money.
Life isn’t about the money.
I honestly do not know where I would be or what state of mind I would be in if I hadn’t stopped. If I hadn’t walked away from work & looked after myself.
In the last 5 years I have spent a lot of time & money looking after myself & learning that the best way I can look after my family is to be of healthy mind & body.
I am grateful & truly thankful for the support my husband has given me, even though I know that he doesn’t always understand my ‘woo woo’ stuff.
On this, my 52nd birthday, I can say that I am at peace & happy with who I am, with the person that I have grown into & I am excited by my future & all that is to come.