Forty Something

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted a family blog, but in my defence, life has been completely crazy.

Work and dirty laundry have been piling up in equal measure and it’s felt a wee bit like I’ve been drowning at times.

It can sometimes seem a bit like Groundhog Day meeting deadlines with a demanding toddler jumping up and down on your knee, trying to schedule interviews around nap times and school runs, and just doing everything that’s necessary to keep a young family up and running.

Yes, I signed up for it, but it’s been getting me down for a number of reasons – the first being that my 40th birthday has been fast approaching and secondly, the recent realisation that the last time Mr S and I had a child free night together was at a wedding in December 2016.

Even that doesn’t count as I was almost four-months pregnant at the time and I had to crawl off to bed at 10pm, exhausted and without my shoes as my feet had swollen like sausages in the sensible heels I had chosen for the occasion.

I might as well throw in this little bombshell while I’m opening up – it appears that I may be perimenopausal (a fabulous development that hasn’t remotely sent me hurtling into a midlife crisis).

So, with all this going on, I have felt a bit like life is passing me by, like I could blink and be 60 before I know it.

It’s fair to say I’ve been dreading turning 40.

Mr S kept asking me what I wanted to do to celebrate and all I could say was that I wanted to ignore the day.

At a push, I was hoping to spend it with him and the little people, mark Grace’s last day in primary one (where did the year go???), and maybe go and buy a camping barbecue to use if the rain ever stops this summer.

However, it turned out that Mr S had different plans.

The actual day went pretty much as I had hoped.

We got up, dropped Grace off to school and Mr S and I took Ethan to the Maryville House in south Belfast for a very yummy breakfast, followed by a spot of retail therapy before it was time to go and pick Grace up from school.

That was a pretty emotional experience – it is a small school with composite classes and a real family atmosphere.

On the last day of the summer term, the primary seven pupils are given a guard of honour while walking a red carpet laid out in the playground as they leave for the last time.

This year, they were joined by the primary one teacher, who was also the principal of the school, as she retired after 37-years working there.

I think I would have been a blubbering idiot had she not walked out the front door wearing a specially made summer uniform.

Anyway, the afternoon was spent having a late lunch and picking a much-longed for camping barbecue.

It was all a bit much for Ethan and Grace, however, and they ended up fighting over who owned a poster on the wall outside a shop (yes, you read that right).

All in all, I had a wonderful day, but Mr S had more treats in store for Saturday.

First of all, he announced that he had arranged a babysitter, booked the dogs into the kennel, and us into the Malmaison Hotel in Belfast.

I’m not ashamed to say I cried when he told me (see above my comments about being perimenopausal which explains why I start crying at the drop of a hat these days).

A few hours later, we’d arrived at the hotel and I discovered we were staying in a suite (I cried).

For the first time in I don’t know how long, we strolled around the shops together – do you know how much easier it is to buy things when you’re not refereeing the latest quarrel between a precocious five-year-old and her spoilt two-year-old brother??

When we got back to our room, there was a bottle of bubbles on ice waiting for us.

Yes, you guessed it, the tears started again, before we played a game of snooker, sipping Prosecco and getting ready to go for dinner.

I actually got to put on a real dress and proper heels, and I had the time to put on some make up and do more than just scrape my hair up into a messy bun.

It was the height of decadence as far as I was concerned.

Mr S wouldn’t tell me where we were going for food and I had no idea until our taxi pulled up outside Harlem next to the Ulster Hall.

Once inside I discovered just how busy my husband has been over the past few months as I was met by a table with a load of my dearest friends.

Not only that, but my little brother and his wife had flown over from Liverpool that afternoon to join us.

Just a few hours earlier, he had sent me a picture of his son, my nephew, playing crazy golf, yet here he was in the restaurant in Belfast.

It turns out it was red herring and it had actually been taken by the person who was looking after him while my brother and sister-in-law came to Belfast for the night.

I was blown away, there was only one thing for it – I cried, although this time I was mindful that I was wearing mascara.

The night was everything I could have hoped for and more.

I don’t remember the last time I felt as special and it has definitely put a spring back in my step.

I feel like I came home on Sunday a brighter, better version of myself.

It has refreshed my soul and definitely made me feel less like a downtrodden, well past her sell by date mummy.

You know, sometimes we’re so busy just trying to keep everything going that we forget to just stop and breathe.

I joke about how self-care is a distant memory, but if this weekend has shown me anything, it is that I am loved and that it’s okay to take a moment away to spoil yourself.

For the first time in a long time, I felt like me again, like the Lisa I was before babies, before my husband’s stroke, before our hearts were broken by miscarriage.

And for the first time ever, being 40 doesn’t seem quite so bad.

I know we can’t leave our little people and book ourselves into a hotel suite every weekend, and I wouldn’t want to anyway, but taking a little bit of time for me is nothing to be ashamed of.

The only problem now is how Mr S is going to top this when it comes to my 50th birthday.

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