Yesterday was my thirty-fifth birthday. I have always joked that I have been naturally 35 since I was about 17, so it’s quite nice that my biological age has caught up with my psychological one. My mum described me as now being “old young as opposed to young young”, and I can live with that.
I was absolutely useless as being young young. I hate late nights and night clubs and loud music. I’m not particularly keen on film or TV, so I never quite know who the latest celebrity is – or not until they’re interviewed in the Guardian Weekend magazine, anyway. My alcoholic drinks of choice are G&T, prosecco or half-decent wine. Even in my student days I never drank so much that I threw up or passed out, and since having children my dread of having a hangover is so pathological that I stop at half a bottle (of wine rather than gin) unless I have childcare lined up for the next day as well.
I like being at home and making a home. I like baking and cooking. I like having friends round for dinner. I like lighting a candle and setting the table properly and cooking a delicious meal to share with my husband while we talk about life, love and everything (‘everything’ could be Anna’s spelling test, whether the filter on the dishwasher needs emptying or geopolitics). I like snuggling under a blanket on the sofa with a good book, or cuddling up with a DVD and a takeaway. I like romantic dinners or family brunches at local restaurants. I like early nights and warm pyjamas and cashmere cardies. I like meeting friends for lunch or coffee or drinks in places where we can actually hear ourselves think and have proper conversations. I like notebooks and pens and Cath Kidston floral prints, and think Great British Bake-Off is practically the best television ever. I was definitely doing hygge before it became an Instagram watchword.
I realise that quite a lot of that makes me sound 75 rather than 35, but there are a few things which hopefully make me ‘old young’ rather than young old.
I also like travel and adventure. Maybe not that adventurous by some standards, but I love home swap holidays which give us a little window into another culture, and travelling across Europe by train, even (especially!) with two young children in tow. I like fish finger sandwiches and nachos eaten messily with my fingers while I read. I like being out and about in London Town, exploring as many different areas and trying as many different foods as I can. I like shopping for and wearing new clothes. I like my Mac Book Air and my blog and other people’s blogs and Instagram, and I think that Sherlock is absolutely and indisputably the best television ever.
I like this stage of my life. I like being established, in my home and in my relationship, but still having the potential to travel or explore different career options. I love having young children and generally revel in the sweet responsibility of being so needed and loved, whilst also having a tiny part of me looking forward to the greater freedom I will have again when the children grow older.
One of my personal challenges for this year is to relish the moment. That was very easy yesterday, because the moments included champagne, chocolate cake, prawn and chilli linguine, presents and cards. But today is a better test. Today I have a clingy teething baby, a head cold that has stolen my sense of smell, a mountain of dirty laundry, a 6 year old with conjunctivitis and torrential rain being lashed against the windows by the 50mph winds, but I still feel pretty content. One of the things which gets in the way of me appreciating the moment is a superstitious dread of tempting fate. I can’t shake that completely, but while I cross my fingers, touch wood, look out for black cats while avoiding ladders and single magpies I will risk saying that thirty-five feels pretty good.