Hello Birthday Eve (goodbye twenties, almost)
This is nearly it! Tomorrow I turn the grande old age of twenty nine. TWENTY NINE! A 2 and a 9!!! It's absolutely a non-event for the most part. It's just the last year of me being able to call myself a twenty something year old. Or even just in my twenties. In one year and one day I'll be in my thirties, which is, again, an absolute non-event. Except that, you know, it kind of is. I've spent most of my twenties living and breathing kiddies, married life and home making. Wait! Isn't that what your thirties are meant to be for?
To give you a whistle stop tour of this decade, I first met my husband when I was 21. I had Finn when I was 23. Karl and I married when I was 24. We had Clara when I was 25. And then, when I was 28 we moved to Singapore. In fact, the only year of my life when I haven't been majorly babied up was when I was 22, which was when my now husband was then just some Irish fella chancing his luck with me, and no kidding that feels like it was a LIFETIME ago.
So, if this is my twenties, what now? A Facebook driven generation (which I am technically part of) seems to have spent their twenties off their tits at Full Moon parties, or holding their heads in their hands at still being stuck in their childhood bedrooms, or working every goddamn moment of every goddamn day because that bastard student debt ain't repaying itself faster than interest is being whacked on. We're a generation of shallow, social media addicted, narcissistic, snowflakes according to the dregs of the Daily Fail. All of us. Every single person born between the late seventies and early nineties, apparently. Ummm...OKAY.
But what about me? Where do I fit in? I mean I do have shit loads of student debt (we know that already) and yes I am a-typical of the social media led kids of the eighties and nineties. But what about everything else I haven't done in my twenties? I didn't take a gap year, I haven't traveled extensively, I don't have any significant memories of hellish housemates in post-student digs, I've never done a music festival, I haven't got a long line of misfit ex-boyfriends I've ghosted out of my life, I mean I really, really haven't got any crazy stories to tell from this decade of my life. And it's so funny because when I was expecting Finn it felt like the world around me - so many of my school and university friends - were so quick to say that I was too young. I was wasting my twenties. For a while, I'm ashamed to say now, I believed them. I was happy with what I had, but at the same time, with only Facebook and Instagram to tell me otherwise, everyone else was baby-free and living the dream. They were climbing career ladders by rungs seemingly consisting of generous graduate packages, semi-permanent drunkeness and girls holidays somewhere very sunny and very un-mumsy. And there I was, 23/24/25/26, up the duff, giving birth,worrying about my fanny ever being the same ever again, in a permanent state of severe sleep deprivation, and with boobs that would spray uncontrollably at the slightest hint of emotion. There were definitely moments when I tended to agree. My twenties were meant to be a time for self discovery, self fulfillment and self indulgence, apparently, but not in the way I had chosen.
So it comes as no surprise that I didn't "find myself" whilst dressed in dubiously coloured bodypaint on a beach in Koh Samui during the summer of 2012. No, not at all. Right at that time I was keeping a baby boy alive, battling post natal depression, planning a wedding, getting married and err....falling pregnant again. I didn't so much as find myself in that time as found myself with a whole team. My own little team for life. Oh, and a great collection of Le Creuset kitchenware (which is, whatever your age, life goals). Then fast forward another year and I was juggling a sixteen month old baby boy, the first year of married life and a newborn baby girl. There is nothing about office politics, of career pressure, or insomnia from work stress that can rival the shit covered, milk soaked summer of 2013 I had. And trust me I know, because I also worked throughout my twenties bar two spells of six months off to have a quick blast at motherhood. By 2014, and at 26, I was jumping on trains between Birmingham and London, trying to balance the demands of my job with my guilt as a working mother missing bedtime again. The emotional toll of the working mother is well documented, yes, but at 26? Maybe the naysayers were right, maybe I was too young to be doing it all, or at the very least, trying to. I pumped milk at a hen do (turns out, major milk production upon setting eyes on a butler in the buff, FYI), I saw Doctor's about misplaced stitches (right where stitches should not be misplaced), and I spent the majority of my time cleaning sick splutters off my shoulder and doling out Calpol. I don't even remember being 27. I think it was a year in a blur, like a lot of people perhaps have at some point in their twenties, but all I was trying to do was keep myself and two small people alive whilst running on minimal energy preserves and maximum patience. By 28 it was pretty much dawning on me that my twenties - that cherished decade of one's life - was rapidly heading towards the finish line and I hadn't achieved much outside of a very traditional (aka old fashioned) foray into adulthood. If I lived in Uzbekistan I'd be bang average, but for the UK I was aging before my time. Perhaps that's why the move to Singapore wasn't really a hotly discussed topic. Karl wanted the career opportunity and I wanted to do something wreckless - albeit not wreckless whatsoever - with the last of my twenties.
And so now, here I find myself on the eve of my 29th...living in the tropics, working on a very un-nine-to-five career, boobs and cooch fully recovered, in an apartment with a wine fridge. So please, to all those who said I wasted the best years of my life, tell me now, what's so different in the end anyway? We're all hitting the big 3-0 right around now, we're all still figuring shit out, and we're all still wondering if this is adulting. Wedded or not. Babied up or not. A Facebook full of drunken shame or not.