It was a very short time ago that I was seven years old imagining that 10 was very grown-up and close to being a teenager, and the Millennium was so far in the future that my head hurt to think about it. Yesterday, or thereabouts, I was 19 recovering from a minor relationship breakup, wondering whether I’d find someone to marry and trying to imagine what it would be like to be a person’s Mum.
Today I am 48 and alone again. I get to be the parent of three incredible human beings and I, pretty much, get to do everything that comes with that. And I’ve never been happier.
I get to get up in the night with my youngest who needs to go to the loo and anyone who has a nightmare or wants a hug. I get calls at random hours to go look at the stars or the moon – “Look I got you a duvet, Mum. Come join me.” It’s not entirely beyond the consciousness of these mini-mes that I am up at 4.50am week days. They know I am also being woken by hot-flushes. They have seen me have sudden moments of realization that the cat isn’t able to get to the litter-box, if I don’t get up immediately and open the door to the garage. They know I suddenly rush about organizing something, right now, right this second before I forget. But they don’t realize I also do all this at 3.00am or 2.10am or 12.55am.
I haven’t read a fiction book for myself for years, though I used to read one a day at times. I rarely exercise, or clothes shop, or get my haircut.
I work where I can laugh and sometimes get real, adult conversation. After work there are the countless errands of groceries or pharmacy visits or book stores or stationers, maybe if I’m lucky catching up with friends. There’s people to call when organizing four lives, the washing to get in and a house to be kept if not clean, at least hygienic. There’s meals to prepare most nights and children to teach how to prepare them on other nights. There’s homework and school meetings and fundraising and parent-teacher interviews to be a part of. And when I get home at night after I’ve been at a school meeting, if the dishes aren’t done it’s my job to at least wash them, and meat to get out of the freezer for the next night’s dinner.
There’s food scraps to be buried and a garden that really needs to be weeded. There’s children to be taught how to organize themselves and supervised to do so, once that’s learned. There’s chores to supervise or check are completed. There’s a cat to be fed and watered.
It’s all on me to get the car to the garage for servicing or repairs. If the house breaks, it’s my responsibility to get it fixed and to pay for those bills. The doctors visits are mine. The dentists visits are mine. The trips to the recycling depot and the dump are all mine. No one changes a light-bulb without me asking it to be done. Sometimes, things have to be ignored, at least temporarily for six months or so. It never ends.
And, it’s true, I’ve never been happier.
I know who I am and I am more likely now to call people on their b.s. that I ever have been before. I adore my house, live minutes from shops and an easy drive to the ocean, and can’t imagine living anywhere else. I have work I love and friends I think are just wonderful. I get out enough with just grown-ups. I have support I could call on, if I really have to. My boys are fabulous when consciousness over-rides testosterone, which is most of the time. And we laugh together hard. And often.
This week my house is an utter mess, my car needs to be taken to the garage, I was in bed at 7.45pm on Monday after 5 and a half hours sleep on Sunday night, I have paperwork that should have been finished a week ago, the cat has a dodgy tummy and my it was my youngest’s turn to become seven.
And, it’s absolutely true:
I’ve never been happier.