When I was growing up people were forever telling me how old I was for my years, and I was regularly left alone to look after my younger half siblings. To give you an example, one day my half brother and I woke up to find a note from our mother saying she had gone out and would be back soon. I was eight, he was five. The phone and electricity had been cut off that week and there wasn’t a huge amount of food in the house. Later that afternoon, literally hours later, her friend’s daughter came to collect us and take us to their house. Her mother had had a crisis apparently, and our mother had gone to her rescue. My mother never saw that there could be a problem doing things like this, because I was so grown up for my age. I was a sensible kid and would never do anything that would cause us harm or get us into trouble.
Ten years later, having left home three years beforehand, I thought I was so wise. I would regale people with stories from my childhood and they’d tell me I simply had to write a book. They would tell me how mature I was for my age and lavish me in compliments. I would walk into a party and be the life and soul of it. Back then there wasn’t much I didn’t think I knew. In actual fact I knew very little.
Ten years after that I had started mellowing out a bit. Over a decade of alcohol and substance abuse and two emotional breakdowns will send you one way or the other. I ploughed my heart and soul into a business but rushed it and paid the price with being left in financial ruin. It was tough but I learnt a lot of life lessons in the process. Several years after this I became a mum, and many things I thought I knew from my past life were rendered useless. I had to suck up the learning curve and get on board with what my bundle of joy was going to bring.
I think I have learnt more in the last five years than in the previous thirty to be honest. About putting my needs aside and immersing myself in the needs of my family. About diplomacy and when to keep my mouth shut. About not judging others and not caring if I’m being judged. About loving through the most challenging of times – even though I’ve had days when I’ve hated my gorgeous hubby for absolutely no reason at all. About having faith that the tough bits will pass and won’t last forever.
I wish I could say that age has brought me wisdom, but I’m just muddling through like everyone else. Learning from my children each and every day. Age has definitely brought inner peace to my world though, that I do know. I don’t think I’ll ever be fully comfortable with the wrinkles and bags under my eyes, but I can safely say that I wouldn’t trade places with my former self for anything!