The last month has been strange to say the least.
With my younger son’s prize giving done and dusted and my eldest son’s speech day and prize giving all but a few hours old I watched them both proudly as they spoke to their teachers and thanked them for their help and guidance.
I danced with my eighteen year old son at his 18th party, spent the best part of his prize giving in floods of tears and feeling bereft, unsure and uncertain as to what the future holds for him and for us without him.
It has been particularly poignant for me as my younger son will be joining the Upper school and my eighteen year old hopefully going off to University in October.
Women put their lives on hold for their children, we may not think that we do but speaking from personal experience I had not realised just how much.
I have put things to one side and have not being able to do the things I want to do, to make sure my children get what they want and need.
“Stop the world I want to get off now”
My mother gave me some very sound advice when my first born was but a few days old.
Remember this, you were here first, your baby second.
What she meant was to not constantly hover over my newborn but to ensure he was fed, safe and secure and in his cot or in his bouncy chair whilst I got on with life.
And it worked, my baby would sit in his chair whilst I did the cleaning, ironing, cooking or working and I would talk to him whilst working.
It was the best advice because it ensured I actually got on with my life without pandering to a baby’s constant needs every five seconds and being what has now been phrased a ‘helicopter parent’.
But that was some eighteen years ago and in the time since my first child was born I barely recognise the person I was then.
My hair is longer and greying although the wonders of hair tinting defy the onset of middle age.
Middle age, past ripe, past prime whatever you wish to call it, although the media would have you believe that a woman entering her fifties is the prime of her life I beg to differ.
How I wish I was the age of 33 but with the maturity and knowledge of the 53 that I am.
My body shows signs of ageing and yet I am more athletic and fitter than I was twenty years ago but the day after tells the tale of physical exertion and tiredness.
I no longer have the stamina I used to have and I am more excited about going to bed with a good book.
Sex no longer offers any excitement for me it has become a chore akin to ironing; the hormones that have depleted my sex drive have ravaged my body leaving me less than the woman I was.
My mind tells me that I am still that thirty something woman who has the ‘joie de vivre’ and wants to have lots of fun.
The seasons are a reminder of time’s insistence not to stand still and that I am heading into my twilight years.
There is a sense of need, urgency almost for things still yet to be accomplished and I am worried that time will run out and I will look back on a life more ordinary than extraordinary.
And I wonder if my peak has been and gone without anyone noticing my full potential yet to be realised and acknowledged.
I’ve reached middle age with all the physiology it entails, mood swings, depressions, hot sweats, cold seats.
I am out of synchronicity with nature and time, my body is in the slipstream of reality but my mind is displaced and whilst I am an excited step grandmother in the waiting, seeing my step daughter-in-law’s bump is a constant reminder that I am no longer in the prime of my youth.
My birthing years are over my natural biorhythms are no longer in tune and I am as unpredictable as the english weather.
But I am coping with the menopause, I haven’t got a choice I’ve been given this body and I am adapting with it as it changes.
I have never tried to pretend it doesn’t exist nor act younger than I am.
But in the solitude that is my own, I brood about the time travel from 35 to 53 the years seem to have rolled around so fast.
And how the passage of time transforms each and every woman into a different catalogue of their former younger selves.
Every woman experiences the menopause differently no stories are the same and my body is but one account of a woman’s ageing inflicted upon us in a society that does everything to disown, ignore, stigmatise the ageing process along with the menopause.
Ideally the transition from youth through to the menopause should be slow and mellow like a fine wine that ages gracefully in the bottle, a slow and gradual imperceptible shift.