Project Awesome

Making my life more awesome

As long as your happiness is not dependent on afternoon tea. Or small children.

on June 26, 2014

Yesterday I was 35. I remember being very excited about approaching 30 – I’d done interesting things in my twenties and felt I’d spent the decade well, and we had plans for a fabulous life.  And then suddenly I found out I was expecting Big Girl and everything changed.

And, it turned out, changed more dramatically than I could have anticipated.  Here I am, stepping into the second half of my thirties a divorced mother-of-two.  My thirties have *not* gone to plan.  And 35 feels significantly different to 30.  30 still felt young.  While 35 doesn’t feel old, somewhere over the hill – but not *far* far away – is middle age.  And I’m not sure how I feel about it.

My birthday was lovely in parts.  Big Girl and Small Girl argued about who would get to open which of my presents.  Astonishingly, neither argued strongly for it to be me.  Birthdays have always been an opportunity to celebrate the person whose birthday it is, to make them feel loved and special, particularly when the person whose birthday it is is me.  And, for ten years, I had someone doing that for me.  This is my third birthday after Ex-Husband, and the first one I had no-one come and spend the day with me to help me celebrate myself.  I missed it.

We went to Uppermill, a little town in Saddleworth which is really quite lovely.  We played in the playground.  We teetered across stepping stones, Small Girl giggling all the way.  We went for afternoon tea, my treat to myself to make myself feel special and celebrated.

Except we should have booked.  Afternoon tea needed to be booked 48 hours in advance, because it has some items which are not on the menu.

I did not cry.

But I wanted to.  I wanted to cry until someone realised this was important and fixed it for me.  Because it’s my birthday, and I’m a single mum, and have to look after myself, and this was my attempt to make something from the horribleness of being alone because my husband left me, and we’ve come such a long way, and…

The woman behind the counter stood impassively as I said none of those things.  I ordered cake and chocolate milkshake for Big Girl and Small Girl, and a cream tea for myself.  Small Girl refused the chocolate milkshake because she is contrary, and neither of them actually wanted their cake, and Big Girl just wanted to eat the maltesers from the top of my cake, and my birthday seemed to be sliding into a disaster.

It’s time to stop living a shadow-life, one where I congratulate myself on living bravely despite my circumstances. To ditch the notion that there is a life I was entitled to.  To stop comparing my life to how it *should* be and enjoy what it *is*.  I had lots of lovely presents and cards yesterday, and 61 people wished me a happy birthday on Facebook. I got to spend a day with my beautiful funny girls balancing on stepping stones and exploring and eating cake.  In the evening I went out with friends, drank cider and performed something I’d written at a live literature event.  I am not a victim of anything.

I think it’s true that I have been brave.  What happened to me, when Ex-Husband left, was shitty, and carried on being shitty for quite a while.  But my life now does not, generally, require extraordinary courage.  I’m not a delicate little flower battling against huge odds.

And I do not need special treatment from women in cupcake shops.

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3 responses to “As long as your happiness is not dependent on afternoon tea. Or small children.

  1. nights7 says:

    Being a single mom on days like your birthday is tough. We’re so deeply ingrained with this idea that someone should be making the day special for us but small (and even older children) don’t really know how to do that yet.
    And sometime happiness just requires a change of perspective.

    • What do you do to celebrate your birthday? I think I want to be self-sufficient – I don’t want to have to ask someone to come and make my birthday special for me. I’m not sure if this is just a reaction to being so dependent for the past couple of years, and in a while I’ll be happier to ask for help, like a normal person.

      • nights7 says:

        I actually just had a birthday a couple weeks ago. I made my own cake & just had dinner with my kids. They cleaned up after though. I realized (after being disappointed last year) that even on your birthday the kids will act their age & be unaware that it should be a special day. As my kids get older I flat out tell them to do something nice for me since there’s no other parent there to teach them they should.
        I also got some friends together the weekend before my birthday & went out drinking. 🙂

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