I reach a major birthday this year. I dislike the odd numbered birthdays and have, since I was 29, refused to be any of them, sticking to the even number for two years. They just don’t sound like an age to yearn to be do they? It’s a nothing number, an odd number. So this year I’m going to be 38. Again. I have a problem with the year before the one everyone tells you is the big one.
With that in mind, three things have happened recently that have made me think I really should think of myself as an adult. The first will be covered in greater depth in Adulting part 2 but essentially, we’ve got a new kitchen. The second is that I took part in research for a university to establish what a structured parent-baby activity can do for your bonding and confidence.
Structured activities for us meant swimming lessons but they can be other classes too, rather than generic play sessions. I sat and gave my feedback over the phone and spoke about my growing confidence as a mother, about learning from other mums as well as the teacher, about bonding with E and so on, and it struck me that I hadn’t thought of this last two years as a whole before, but only as a series of events. Having to give a whole picture and talk about myself like I knew what I was doing offered a new perspective and I realised, to my horror and amusement, that I sounded quite grown up. You know, like someone you overhear at work or on the bus, with responsibilities and cares and a clue. Not like someone who regularly goes out with a changing bag but no nappies.
Which brings us to the third thing. I’ve had some kind of ghastly skin condition which is only just starting, I think, to clear up. The doctors seem to think it’s due to the effects of the virus I had when we were on holiday leaving my immune system open to attack and me being generally too run down to fight it off properly. A stress reaction. In short, I feel absolutely fine but please don’t look at me for a while yet. (I’ve bought some all covering clothing, not quite a burka but I’m nearly there.)
I didn’t feel stressed before this. Well apart from a personal thing that’s been on my mind. And constant reorganisation and changes at work. And cramming too much into my days, sitting for hours at a computer after 9 1/2 hours at work, trying to keep things (writing, a website, blogs, reviews) going when my brain is fagged. And parenting a toddler. And trying to stay exercised and healthy and vaguely alert in the time I spend with my husband. And thinking about my lack of social life. And trying to organise a new kitchen fitting.
No really, I didn’t feel stressed – I was just busy. Other people have family and job responsibilities and seem to manage, so I should be up to it yes? After all, I’m an adult now.
The thing is of course, for all I know, you’re all on the verge of a nervous breakdown. (I hope you aren’t. And that you’re supported by great people.) And I also know that some of my friends and family are going through proper stress at the moment, so I feel a bit feeble.
So a re-evaluation is needed. I’m stepping back from a few things. And drinking more water. And trying to eat more veg. And I’ve cut out bread. I’m trying to go to bed earlier. The kitchen is nearly done. I’m booking plenty of leave. Small changes. But even those seem to have helped. The water thing is great. I read once that most hunger pangs are actually thirst but our brains mix them up. After only a week drinking more water I feel less inclined to snack from hunger. Having the kitchen in chaos at the moment gives me the chance to try this out – since it’s too hard to find a snack at the moment, I’m not even tempted by toast.
Hopefully in a month I may be respectable looking enough to take E swimming again. In the meantime I’m trying to ensure my evening activities are a mixture of things I want to get done and things that I actually relax with. This means more evenings spent reading – and knitting – I can’t wait.