Tag Archives: Thirty

Bacon, waffles, malteasers, birthday

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You can’t really tell, because he’s the eternally youthful type who probably has an ageing portrait of himself in our loft (behind the saggy maternity clothes and 20000 small empty cardboard boxes), but Tim finally turned thirty this month.

We were born in the same year, but I was first, so there’s a long eight months in the middle of the year where I am thirty and wrinkled and hobbling towards the grave, and he is gambolling along in the verdant Spring of his life at twenty-nine, so it’s always gratifying when he catches up. I have been telling him good things about thirty for ages. It’s been kind to me so far. I hope it agrees with him too.

Since it was a big one we tried to cram in all his favourite things. A boy-free night in a spa hotel in one of our favourite cities. A massage. Some huge dinners. The new James Bond film at the IMAX, in the squashy seats. Having arranged all this beforehand in secret, we left him a washing line hung with notes and sweets to follow from bed to the birthday table, to let him know what we’d be doing. Please imagine for a second pegging sweeties onto a piece of wool with tiny pegs and in the unrestrained presence of a ravenous two-year-old. At 6am. T thought Christmas had come early. I thought I’d panic-sweated out a full two pounds by the time we were done.

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Tim had specified a few techie presents I’d gratefully ordered from Amazon, so while he exclaimed over extra-powerful lights and a G-clamp (which sounds much ruder than it is, alas), the boys and I made waffles and bacon. He’d requested a Malteaser cake, and I’d rummaged all around the internet before settling on this one. It was a standard three-layer chocolate cake, made into a thing of wonder by pouring half a tin of Horlicks powder into the cake mix and frosting. Did you know the inside of Malteasers is basically solid Horlicks? I love them both, but now I love them both more.

We put an ice fountain on it instead of a regular candle. Because one thing we haven’t done yet with this house is burn it down, so we thought we’d have a crack.

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We had a quiet day while H was at school, spent mostly eating more cake, watching James Bond movies and weeping a little over Daniel Craig’s beautiful craggy face. Then we dropped the boys off with their grandparents and headed down to Winchester.

We haven’t been away without them all year. Oh, the bed. The huge, squashy-pillowed bed and uninterrupted sleep therein. The pizza-and-pie restaurant we found for dinner. The geriatric couple we made friends with in the sauna, until the lady ruthlessly stole my towel. After Tim’s massage the next morning he emerged smelling bewitchingly of lavender, and we popped into IKEA for a few bits before settling down to weep over Daniel Craig’s beautiful craggy face in HIGH DEFINITION. That bit where he drives the car into the oh my gosh I can’t even. Even Tim couldn’t even. The gentleman sat next to me couldn’t even, and this was despite Tim’s lavender oils drifting soothingly down the aisle. We haven’t been quite the same since.

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Anyway, he makes a good thirty. He makes a good basically everything. Ready for another decade, Mr J? I’ll bring the cake. You bring the G-clamp, now you’ve got one.

A manifesto for being an all-round good egg at thirty

You do not know how hard I had to work to post a photo of me from the side with all my wrinkles intact. It's for a good cause. *sob*

You do not know how hard I had to work to post a photo of me from the side with all my wrinkles intact. It’s for a good, being-more-self-accepting cause. *sob*

I’ve been thirty for a week and I’m not dead yet.

I jest. I’ve been gently bemoaning my age as this birthday has approached, but my heart hasn’t really been in it. The one small moment of panic I had in January, where I sobbed ‘I’M GOING TO BE THIRTY AND I DON’T KNOW IF I’M DOING ANYTHING WORTHWHILE’, felt like it came from the usual insecurities of having small children and no performance reviews, and from the idea that I was supposed to be having a breakdown and had a spare ten minutes to get it done. (Do you ever feel something because you think you ought to? I think I do.)

So far – and it’s early days – I feel like thirty has given me permission to be unapologetic about myself. I spent most of my teens and twenties trying to fit myself in boxes that weren’t for me, like almost every other person in their teens and twenties who aren’t Luna Lovegood. Wishing my body looked different, trying not to resent the pounds I put on in pregnancy, the bagginess, flatness, fullness that came afterwards. Or adapting myself to the company I was in: trying to seem less clever or more clever, less religious, more conservative, less bothered about things that bothered me a lot (and vice versa). Trying to adopt the right parenting philosophies so the mother tribes would let me in. Worrying that being shy made me boring.

That last might still be true. But in the past months I’ve been feeling more and more comfortable in my own skin. I’m a champion worrier so it’s a bit odd: will it last? Is it a temporary madness? I’d like it to stick around. So, it’s election season here in the UK, and I thought I’d get on the bandwagon. Here’s a manifesto of sorts: things I would like to aspire to, most especially when I’m frantic and insecure, now that I’ve hit my one-score-and-ten.

This party would like to remember that its body has had a crazy five years. Sometimes I watch the boys running around and want to yell ‘hey, look at them! This body made them! This one here!’ First there came the growing-and-birthing part, which I need to tell you was not an inconsiderable commitment. Now I spend all my time jogging next to balance bikes, lifting into car seats, avoiding kicking tantrum legs, gathering little bodies onto my lap and rubbing backs while they cry snot into my hair. It’s hard and joyous graft. I’ve come a long way in the last decade, and so has the body I’m in. I want to give it the credit it’s due, treat it well and then embrace it as it is.

This party would like to write, and not be embarrassed about writing. And actually get paid for writing more often, because then I would be living my BEST LIFE.

This party will own what it believes in. I am a Mormon, and a liberal, and a feminist. It can be tricky to be all three. But I love my faith with a passion and I believe in liberal ideologies with a passion and I get very exercised about women’s rights. And, you know, I just don’t feel like playing any of them down anymore. There’s a Mantel quote that I love, and I think I’m going to stick it up somewhere:

‘I cannot unbelieve what I believe. I cannot unlive my life’.

Hear flipping hear.

This party will remember that being sane is important, and hobbies help it to remain so. I have interests both high and low, and it feels like I’m always mentally apologising for one of them. Sometimes I want something that makes me think, and sometimes I want to sit still while my brain dribbles gently out of my ears. I want to exist, unabashed, in the intellectual space I have room for at the time, whether that’s reading a Booker prize winner or an Agatha Christie, listening to symphonies or Heart Radio, watching art documentaries or House.

This party would like to organise its life in such a way that it never needs to take toddlers into a supermarket again. Seriously, it’s a killer. I would like to strike Putting Off Doing The Online Shop Until There Is Literally No Food To Feed The Clamouring Children off my list of special talents, where it reigns supreme.

This party intends to honour its need for space and quiet, but not make this an excuse. I am an introvert, but I never want to use it as an excuse for being rude. The older I get, the more I think that there’s not much more important than fulfilling your obligations and being kind. Or rather, so many things get easier when you’re pulling your weight and being kind first. I want to be someone people talk to because they know I’ll listen. I want to look after the friendships that mean the most to me. I want to be gracious (isn’t that a lovely word? I feel like hugging it to my chest).

This party declares its interest in wearing more shirts and eating more doughnuts. I’m wearing a shirt today with dragonflies on it, and honestly, just looking at my cuffs is filling me with glee. You can’t buy that happiness (actually you can, in TK Maxx. It was a steal).

I love the chap I married, and I love the boys we made, and I love the house we live in. And I know a lot of quite amazing people I can glom onto and learn from. That seems like a pretty solid base to start your next decade. So, um, vote for being thirty? I have doughnuts.

You can also vote for your favourite ever age, in the comments below. Thus far, honestly? My vote would be this one.

Oh, were you wanting a photo that totally encapsulates my life at the moment? Here you go!

Perhaps you were wanting a photo that totally encapsulates my life at the moment. Et voilà, it appears.

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