At the beginning of October, I turned forty. To celebrate, the BFG and our kids and I flew to Sydney to spend a couple of days there with his parents, enjoying the beach and the sun and all the things we’d planned in celebrating this significant milestone.
The first night, the BFG’s dad prepared a beautiful lamb on the barbeque. As we sat down to eat – wine glasses filled – our two girls had individual melt downs about where they were sitting. It was EPIC. It took a good twenty minutes to unruffle feathers, dry their tears, mop up their sniffles while the food got cold and the wine got warm.
On my actual birthday – the big forty! – it poured with rain. Our original plan – brunch at the beach – drowned in the deluge. Instead, we took the kids to movies. To watch Small Foot.
At 3am (after dinner, cake and early bed), Immy woke me up with a raging fever and inflamed tonsils. I spent the next three hours sitting up with her, trying to cool her down and get her to sleep. She was too sick to go anywhere the next day, so we spent the day at home with a side trip to the doctor for a ten-day course of antibiotics.
My fortieth absolutely encapsulated all the things I’ve learned so far in this time on earth. That expectations are the key ingredient in experiencing disappointment, or failure. That letting go of what things should look like, or how things should be allows me to relax into what things are. The big things may have fallen through – but the little things are etched into my heart. The treasure hunt the kids dragged me out for bed for that they were so excited about. Cartwheels in the front of the cinema as we were leaving after the movie. That exhalation at the end of the day when the house is quiet and the kids are asleep. The relief when Immy’s fever broke and she turned a corner. My heart squeezing when Lucy and Matty came home from the Reptile Park and handed over the slime they’d bought her because she was too sick to go with them. Candles and cake and a new tribe of people to celebrate things with.
And so, I continue to choose to embrace the messy, ordinary, extra-ordinariness of this beautiful life in this beautiful place that I find myself in now.
Forty things that make me happy
2. That first cup of coffee in the morning
3. Mornings in bed with a new book and the cat curled up in the sun
4. Lighting a candle
5. Planning adventures
6. That feeling I get when I pick Immy up at the end of the school day
7. Her off-key singing in the shower
8. Watching our kids (mine and the BFG’s) cementing a friendship
9. Immy speaking French
10. Curling up on the couch at the end of a long day to watch an episode of something good
12. Packages (usually books!) that arrive at the office for me
13. Reading and snuggling with Immy every night at bedtime
14. Thinking about our upcoming trip to South Africa
15. After-work drinks with new friends
16. The light in my home on summer afternoons
17. Book hauls from the local library
18. Holiday memories
19. Immy’s creativity
20. Facetiming family and friends
21. My green indoor plants
22. Opening the postbox and pulling out my favourite magazines – Breathe, and Frankie
24.Our local park
25. Night time neighbourhood walks
26. Being prepared. Somehow I have it together enough to make sure Immy has a beautiful school lunch everyday, fully paid up excursions and signed consent forms, sunscreen, hat. Yet I never seem to have a tissue – or housekeys – or an umbrella – when I need one. Working on this.
28. Forest walks with Evangeline Celine
30. Not ironing
31. Dreaming of next year and five months of travel, and freedom
32. Early morning skies
33. Sunday mornings
34. Re-reading favourite books
34. Fifteen months with my BFG
35. Cozy independent bookshops
37. After-work drinks in the city with new friends
38. Going all-out for a dress up party
39. Cat snuggles
40. The sun on my skin