When I was a little girl I imagined what my life would be like. I would obviously get married and I would have the babies and I would have the house and I would have the job. My brain never went into more detail than that, I’m not one of those girls who knows what every aspect of her wedding will be like (in fact I fear that I’ll be one of those unfortunates who just looks like a twat in a big white dress) and I was never specific about how many children I would have, how big, or where, the house would be and no idea what career ladder I would be climbing.
There was only one thing fixed in my head. The age by which all this would have happened.
My late twenties.
The trouble with this dream was threefold:
1. I was little! I was at an age where 40 means you’re close to your grave and in my head late twenties was pretty damn old.
2. I had the older brother and sister leading the way – they were both married and sprogged up by the time they were my age, so of course I thought it was reasonable. What I didn’t realise was that really they were the exception to the rule, my sister especially, she is Mrs Big Fancy Boss Woman, but only because she had her children pretty early on, went straight back to work and got to hop, skip and jump up the ladder in her 30s when all her fellow female colleagues were dropping out to deliver their offspring into the world.
3. I have an older Mum. She was 38 when she had me and although I love her dearly, I was conscious of having an older Mum and didn’t really like it growing up. The gap between her generation and mine just seemed so big and I know we all think our parents don’t understand us but mine really really didn’t, she was bewildered by me a little bit I think. I wanted to still be fairly young when I had my kiddywinks.
Anyway. Whatever the reasons were I think it’s easy to say that it aint gonna happen. Unless I win millions of pounds enabling me to buy my own house and pressure someone into impregnating me in the next couple of years, that childhood dream will remain just that.
And weirdly enough, I’m starting to feel ok with that. A few years ago when Mr Gym Freak and I split up I went into a complete spiral and thought that my life was over and I’d never find anyone ever again and all my chances of realising my dreams were up in smoke. But, you know, you get over it don’t you?
And then I thought I’d found it all again with the ex only, well you all know well enough, that didn’t work out and so I find myself, at 27, not in a house with a husband and a baby but in a house with a friend and two cats. I won’t lie, at first it was difficult, when I moved in to Dorothy’s I went upstairs to unpack and just stood there looking at all my shit all over this tiny double room and couldn’t believe what I’d done, I wanted to take it all back immediately.
The trouble is, the childhood me never took into consideration the notion of happiness. My brain was focused on the end products – husband, house, child – not on the feelings that went hand in hand and if I have only learned one thing over the past few years, it’s that the happiness thing is the most important.
I could have had, or come incredibly close, to having all that Tiny Me wanted. All I would have had to have done was discount my happiness. It wasn’t terrible, I could have stayed, but I knew that I couldn’t put those feelings to one side and so blew up those dreams in a puff of smoke. Like I said, I am now feeling ok about that, yes it’s sad but it isn’t the end of the world, life is carrying on and I know, I know, that me being happy is more important than some silly childhood dream.
A week on Saturday I will attend the first wedding of my group of friends. I can’t wait, for one thing the pair of them have been engaged for freakin’ years, but I can’t lie, it’s made me feel a little wobbly and although I will be at the wedding just being happy for the pair of them I know that there’ll be a little part of me inside that is just ever so sad (and more than a little jealous) that it’s so far away from my grubby little mitts. This is sometimes made worse by the fact that out of the seven of our group, three are engaged, one has a baby with her partner, two live with their partners....and then there’s me. Excellent.
When I do start to feel wobbly I try to focus myself and tell myself to calm. down. It’s all fine. It’s all going to work out (no don’t ask me how I know, I put all my energy into not asking that question). You are happy, that’s what’s important. Repeat after me, “You are happy. You are happy.”
And then equilibrium is restored.
Until earlier this week when one of the girls who lives with her boyfriend announced that she was engaged.
Anyone got a paper bag to hand?