Life from both sides...

posted on: Sunday, 17 April 2016

April always feels like a strange month to me. It comes at the end of a weary, grey winter (the weather bore in me still going strong) and the summer still feels like a long way away. We talk about the weather a lot and the fact that although we hold out for the summer months, they very rarely deliver anything consistent. Bad climate. But still, the daffodils are peaking out and it's light into the evening and altogether I should see that this is all good.

Meanwhile the school holidays are still 'on' - I'd like to opt out now - as we enter the fourth week, complete with aforementioned weather pattern. I'd really rather be in the sun somewhere, like let's say Florida. Sigh.

My son turned 11 yesterday, which for him represented about the most unadulterated bout of joy for a day. There is something just lovely about 11; it's on the cusp, childhood and adolescence vying for first place but still a wonderful innocence and lack of pretension about him. He had the most perfect day of seeing friends and family so we all went to bed last night feeling replete.

My daughter (the inimitable Boo) did a week's work at a new wellbeing/physiotherapy studio last week. Dropping her off to work each day really did feel like new territory in the ever-changing world of the modern teen. We felt very proud that she was holding down a job and learning new and sometimes quite daunting things and all the time, for the first time, earning her own money. I notice increasingly that we are looking to her to exhibit certain characteristics that we will find comforting. Kindness to others, willingness to work, patience, tenacity, bravery. It's so hard to quantify whether children will develop these traits and I have to look inwards and ask myself why I think they are so important.

I think a lot about resilience and how you get it. I see many people go through life without it - myself included - and wonder why it's so hard to come by? We are we so vulnerable sometimes? I also wonder constantly whether I am doing this parenting thing right and see just how many times a day I am bothered by whether I have made the wrong decision or played a conversation badly. Equally there are times when I think I've got it spot on, but I have to say, the self-doubt lingers. I see this as an aspect that all of my peers struggle with, there is no exception from parental worry. But some manage it better and I want to be one of the ones who get it in perspective.

Having lately attended events where everyone was over the age of 70, I have been thinking about that time of life. There is so much preoccupation with parenting and working right now and I do wonder what it feels like when you get to that age. It seems conflicting; some things I read say that it is the happiest of times, freed from many of the issues that shrouded you in earlier years. Other reports suggest it's melancholy, everything starts to be about looking backwards and your body fails you. And of course in both scenarios, health is all. I do wonder how I shall be? Increasingly I don't like the concept of 'retirement', the idea that you work and work and work and then stop. I find this flawed. This consideration has strengthened since I stopped work and have faced the reality of having no paid occupation. I see that there is much scope for misery in me when I have nothing to do, so honestly, getting older scares me unless there is the fullness of life that I enjoy now. Is it the case that you just get weary? I was telling someone about doing my masters and it occurred to me that I would have done this had I been 70 or 40. There's nothing about what I do now (other than the age of my kids) that I wouldn't be doing then.

My sister in law and I discussed wrinkles and botox. We decided: no. It's not a case of not wanting to look younger, to erase the lines, but the knowledge that it is a futile endeavour. Where does it stop? But I do wonder what it will be like to look in the mirror at 80! How does that feel? I have started to think that I'll look in the mirror then and think of all of the things I have done, the mark I left, not the lines of my face. I am not saying I'll leave a big mark - a small, pale stain probably - but I want to have done something. Hence writing  the book...

Maybe there will be more than one book. I think I will become a writer and sit in my eighties enjoying the fact that there is a record of me. I'd like to still be wearing the clothes I wear now - on this point I am determined - I don't want to succumb to the beige. My relationship with Stan Smith Adidas kicks still going strong. I'd like to be like Iris Apfel, all big glasses and flamingo prints. Slightly nutty but OK.

These are the things that occupy my mind in between the writing, the endless ferrying of children, the fretting about parental decisions, the cleaning/wiping/sorting of my house.

I suppose what I am saying is that I'd always like there to be activity and challenge - mental if not physical. I'd like there to be quirkiness and attitude. Interest and passion. Yes? Yes.


  1. Funny how some people wonder whether there won't be much to do in old age. I'm worried that there will be too MUCH to do. I observe grandparents spending long days with their grandchildren and wonder with trepidation if a reemergence of one of life's greatest challenges, namely raising children, will take place when I'm 60. The prospect of one day having all day to do nothing but read is the doing I'm looking forward to. Great post Lou.