Yesterday, after a trip to visit a friend and her baby (let’s face it, practically all my social engagements involve babies and small children these days), I nipped in to the chemist for a few essentials.
How I Know I’m a Grown Up
5 minutes later I emerged feeling slightly dejected and carrying the most uninspiring bag of shopping ever to emerge from Superdrug. On the bus, as I stared down at the vast array of indigestion tackling paraphernalia in my lap, I pondered at how different my life has become. A few years ago, a similar trip would have resulted in a yield of fake tan, nail varnish and painkillers, not all this middle-aged, trapped wind based crap! These, I thought, are the joys of being a mum. Everyone knows pregnancy is hardly glamourous. Ah well, this phase doesn’t last long, I reassured myself. Get past the inconvenient bump and sleepless nights and I can go back to being my young, sprightly, frivolous and slightly superficial self.
Yet later that evening, as I did my duties and got the toddler to bed, I realised something dreadful: I can’t totally blame my lack of energy and inability to stay out past 10pm and periodic lack of anything interesting to say to anyone who’s not a parent on being a mum. I’m just getting older.
This had genuinely never dawned on me before. It crept up silently, like a toxic mist, slowly surrounding my life until one day I opened my eyes and realised I was engulfed by middle age, trapped in its tentacles with no idea how to get out.
You’d think I’d have seen it coming. In a few weeks I’ll be 33 – not old, but not young by any standards (it’s been nearly 8 years since I had a young person’s railcard!). I am married, own a house, have a child, a baby on the way and have held down the same job in the same place for nearly 5 years. It’s not just a job, it’s a career. Yet somehow, none of these things signalled to me that I was grown up. These were just things that happened, while in my head I was still the same carefree 22 year old who started looking for a new job every six months to avoid boredom and spent the majority of every Sunday eating crisps and watching all 6 hours of the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice adaptation back to back while recovering from a stinking hangover. Sure, I couldn’t do these things anymore – I had to take work seriously, look after a child and spend endless hours playing animal dominoes – but that didn’t change who I was inside.
Then at 7.30pm last night, an Amazon delivery man arrived at my door with a message far more profound than he anticipated. For as I signed for the package, I realised I was excited. Genuinely excited. And as I closed the door behind him, I turned to my little man and exclaimed with far too much glee: ‘Oh yey! This must be the DustBuster I ordered!’
At that moment, my alternate reality came crashing down around my ears. As I processed what I had just said – my sheer joy at the prospect of owning a handheld vacuum cleaner – a myriad of flashbacks rushed through my brain: getting the boiler fixed, signing a finance deal for the sofa at DFS, inviting the new neighbours for a coffee because ‘it’s the right things to do’, spending evenings organising the family calendar instead of actually doing things, being the person who suggests a weekend trip to IKEA!
Being a parent I can cope with, but these are the things which have finally made me realise I’m a grown up. A proper grown up, doing proper grown up things.
It’s enough to spark a midlife crisis. I should get on the phone now and organise a crazy all nighter, one which starts with wine in a posh bar then degenerates into tequila shots in an 80s theme night.
But the unborn baby puts paid to that idea. Guess I’ll have to live it up with a family sized bag of popcorn washed down with a giant tub of Gaviscon instead.
Goodbye youth. It was fun while it lasted!