I have an age that I am intimidated by. It’s not a round number (wouldn’t want to be a cliché, God forbid my scary number could be considered mainstream, or, you know, common… one that you could get a card for), but when in the early noughties I was asked what my scary age was, it’s the number that immediately came to mind and I said aloud (it was met with guffaws of laughter from Mr R and his brother – my predictability in choosing a totally random age was – ironically – apparently entirely predictable).
Anyway, that age, for the record, was thirty-seven. And currently I am thirty-six. So my scary age is but a few months away. Yay….
Thirty-seven seemed a very long way away in 2001. I was but twenty-one, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but that was totally fine! I wasn’t a grown up! I would be once I hit thirty-seven, and by then I would *totally* know what I was doing and have my s**t together! Ta da! I would be self-assured, self-confident, totally at ease and excelling at my chosen profession (which I would have chosen and be excelling at by then, obviously!), and I would be nailing it. (By it I mean life).
I think that I fixed on thirty-seven for a few reasons… first off, I can remember my Mum turning thirty-seven. She had me when she was thirty-two, so it would have been the year I started school. When I started school, it meant I was a big girl, ergo, it meant my mother was a proper grown up. But as I approach the big 3-7 hmmmm. Yes. Erm.
Thirty-seven per se isn’t the issue here. Clearly it – like any age emblazoned on a card in Paperchase – is just a number. It’s pretty insignificant, but the issue is that what thirty-seven signifies is this mythical point when you had thought you would have achieved a load of stuff that you hadn’t quite in list form.
Except of course just because it isn’t written down, it doesn’t mean you don’t have it: a mental list. Things to have done by age x*.
*insert your own scary age here
It’s really easy to focus on the things that I have done, and it’s a good list. But actually, as I approach my scary age, there is so much that I *haven’t* done that I wanted to. And really, that’s the scary thing. I have a finite time left. Annoyingly, it’s not like a marathon, I can’t know how much it is, all I can know is that at some point there will be no more time to do things that I want to do. Which is wholly depressing, and should probably make me rethink my current binge watching of Peaky Blinders and House of Cards. But it’s sobering right? The notion that we’re only here for a short time, and not only do I opt for a box set over achieving something that I want to have achieved, it’s only when I come to write it down that I realise how much I want to do, and how little time there is to do it in.
And yet, it doesn’t pivot around a number. Not really. It pivots around going out and doing things rather than putting it off I suppose. It’s easy (and I’m definitely guilty of this) to think of life as a tick box. Visit all continents (yup, even that one), write a book (still in there), get fit and healthy (ish), have babies (tick!), have a career (hmmmm), have some sort of balance (getting there). But what happens when those things are done? Can they ever all be done? Is there some point when we kick back and say ‘yes, I have done all I wanted, I’m done now’ or is the human condition one that simply won’t let us rest up and pushes us onto the next thing. And the next thing. And the next? Thousands of years ago, that next thing was (across the board) food/shelter/food/shelter/kill something trying to kill me/food/shelter. Now it’s rather different, but the constant pursuit of achieving things is still very much there.
This week Mr R turns forty. That’s a scary age for him, but then he’s an accountant. He’ll find it pleasing that the number is clean and round albeit scary.
Two weeks ago I sold my business. The business that enabled me to earn money while I worked from home and fitted my life around the kids. Sure, I know some people think that I didn’t do much work (Mum, I do mean you, rocking up on a Monday for a catch up and coffee while I twiddled bits of wire and printed off dispatch notes! Not that it wasn’t lovely chatting 😉 ), and it did ebb and flow the busyness, but actually, despite appearances, I did work, and it worked. And it was great.
Just over a week ago we accepted an offer on our house in Bromley. We’re in that annoying quiet bit now where not a lot appears to be happening, but it is; those searches/letters/surveys.
Currently we are waiting to hear whether we have been given planning permission on our Jersey house.
In short, things are a little bit up in the air.
This combined with the looming of my scary age, has led to a tiny bit of (rather self-indulgent) what am I going to be when I grow up. Of course this is all offset (and magnified) by the fact my 6lb5ounce baby – M – turns ten in just over a week. As she hits five foot one, with size seven feet (I have mentally bidden my new trainers farewell as she keeps putting them on, and frustratingly they look an awful lot better on her), it’s not as though I am able to deny that time is – as they say – marching on. Well and truly. I can kid myself it doesn’t apply to me. I can use the root touch-up sprays to mask my rapidly whitening hair (urgh), but the two children that were babies what felt like yesterday (I swear) are a constant reminder, day in, day out, that there’s not pause button here.
The lovely new owner of Chez Bec wished me well upon completion of the sale and told me sagely not to hurtle into anything too quickly. Which is sound advice. But I do wonder whether hurtle is the only thing I actually know how to do? This downtime, this quiet, is really actually quite uncomfortable. I don’t like waiting for things to happen. I want to be doing them now. I don’t want to wait until the i-s are dotted, I want it done now. In short, I might be a little impatient (and am currently refreshing the planning department decision page every ten minutes, because they say eight weeks, and it’s been 7+4).
I’ve ordered a pottery wheel (it’s literally my new love, I am a woman obsessed, and no, it’s not just since the Throw Down, I was signed up months before that was even on television). I am finding a love of glazing which I used to hate. My pots are getting less wonky. Last week I threw three pounds of clay. TWICE. So I am, it appears, leaping from one creative frying pan into the fire (this one in kiln form). Hurtling. I don’t like to stop do I?
But – and this is something that I realised this weekend – actually, sometimes you need a bit of room to think. It’s not always easy, and it’s not always nice having to process past events, but it does enable you to move forwards. And that’s a lot better than being stuck still.