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What my 30s have taught me about being a mother and a human being

1
I have just turned 39 and been struck by the realisation that life has taught me some of my biggest lessons over the last nine years. I have failed. I’ve succeeded. I have redefined both of these words. I have lost, and I have gained more than I ever realised I would. So for the purposes of my future self (lest she forget) and for my kids, I have written down the biggest things life has taught me in my 30s. And if you can take something from them too, then that beats the icing on any birthday cake.

Have a plan. Then don’t be scared to rip the

SelfishMother.com
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plan up and do a new one. Life throws stuff at us – amazing stuff and heartbreaking stuff – over which we have no control, other than how we choose to respond to it. Becoming better at change is one of the most important skills I have learned.
Accept that your kids will kick your ass. From skiing to asking questions you can’t even begin to answer despite your significantly greater number of years on the planet. It is not always your responsibility to solve, or to be wiser or to lead the way. They will lead the way sometimes and as long as that
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doesn’t involve eating lollipops for breakfast every day, that’s cool.
Having children and a career is really hard. I still haven’t cracked it. Being a mum is the most important and mundane job I’ve ever had. People’s lives and futures depend on you and at the same time, sometimes the most significant thing you’ll do in a day is wipe a butt. Starting my (paid) career again  fills me with excitement and trepidation. Balls WILL be dropped. Success doesn’t always look like success. It can sometimes look like failure.
Lack of time is our
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greatest enemy and greatest friend. I read a great article by Brigid Shulte about how a woman’s greatest enemy is a lack of time to herself. The sentence that stayed with me the most was this one:‘I feel such a sense of loss when I think of the great, unwritten poems that took a backseat to polished floors’. Hence why I am planning a dirty house from hereon. But what I’ve also learnt is that  accepting that our time will run out, is one of the most perspective-giving realisations you’ll make. There ain’t nothing like a literal deadline to
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make you focus on your priorities.
Sometimes the most joyful things are the tiny things. They are easy to miss so listen. Squeals of delight as the toddler teaches the baby to say ‘poo poo’ through yogurt smeared faces. Little hands, feet and bodies sneaking into your bed at 3am because they have had a ‘naughty dream’ and are feeling scared. That time the toddler said out of nowhere: ‘We all have one home in the end mummy. The Die World. The one you can’t see but is all around. Where granny is.’
Getting older is an honour. And the
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more I’ve lived and learned, the more I’ve realised how much more there is to learn. As Malcolm Gladwell said in my daily podcast fix (the brilliant How to Fail with Elizabeth Day) getting older is a process of humbling. I feel smaller than I did when I was 30. If I am lucky enough to make it to a good old age, I’ll be a speck.
Experiencing the death of my mum last year has been my biggest coming of age. It made me feel a decade older and wiser. But if I had to say just one thing about it, it’s the importance of talking about it. Talk about it
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with your kids, with the people you love, with strangers. Because it’s the one thing that binds every single human on the planet and along the way we seem to have lost touch with it. To have (ironically) buried it. Acknowledging it brings meaning and purpose to life. I hope that by the time my daughters are old enough to read this, death will be back on the table. No taboo. Part of what makes life better, not solely harder.

 

 

 

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- 14 Jan 20

I have just turned 39 and been struck by the realisation that life has taught me some of my biggest lessons over the last nine years. I have failed. I’ve succeeded. I have redefined both of these words. I have lost, and I have gained more than I ever realised I would. So for the purposes of my future self (lest she forget) and for my kids, I have written down the biggest things life has taught me in my 30s. And if you can take something from them too, then that beats the icing on any birthday cake.

  1. Have a plan. Then don’t be scared to rip the plan up and do a new one. Life throws stuff at us – amazing stuff and heartbreaking stuff – over which we have no control, other than how we choose to respond to it. Becoming better at change is one of the most important skills I have learned.
  2. Accept that your kids will kick your ass. From skiing to asking questions you can’t even begin to answer despite your significantly greater number of years on the planet. It is not always your responsibility to solve, or to be wiser or to lead the way. They will lead the way sometimes and as long as that doesn’t involve eating lollipops for breakfast every day, that’s cool.
  3. Having children and a career is really hard. I still haven’t cracked it. Being a mum is the most important and mundane job I’ve ever had. People’s lives and futures depend on you and at the same time, sometimes the most significant thing you’ll do in a day is wipe a butt. Starting my (paid) career again  fills me with excitement and trepidation. Balls WILL be dropped. Success doesn’t always look like success. It can sometimes look like failure.
  4. Lack of time is our greatest enemy and greatest friend. I read a great article by Brigid Shulte about how a woman’s greatest enemy is a lack of time to herself. The sentence that stayed with me the most was this one:‘I feel such a sense of loss when I think of the great, unwritten poems that took a backseat to polished floors’. Hence why I am planning a dirty house from hereon. But what I’ve also learnt is that  accepting that our time will run out, is one of the most perspective-giving realisations you’ll make. There ain’t nothing like a literal deadline to make you focus on your priorities.
  5. Sometimes the most joyful things are the tiny things. They are easy to miss so listen. Squeals of delight as the toddler teaches the baby to say ‘poo poo’ through yogurt smeared faces. Little hands, feet and bodies sneaking into your bed at 3am because they have had a ‘naughty dream’ and are feeling scared. That time the toddler said out of nowhere: ‘We all have one home in the end mummy. The Die World. The one you can’t see but is all around. Where granny is.’
  6. Getting older is an honour. And the more I’ve lived and learned, the more I’ve realised how much more there is to learn. As Malcolm Gladwell said in my daily podcast fix (the brilliant How to Fail with Elizabeth Day) getting older is a process of humbling. I feel smaller than I did when I was 30. If I am lucky enough to make it to a good old age, I’ll be a speck.
  7. Experiencing the death of my mum last year has been my biggest coming of age. It made me feel a decade older and wiser. But if I had to say just one thing about it, it’s the importance of talking about it. Talk about it with your kids, with the people you love, with strangers. Because it’s the one thing that binds every single human on the planet and along the way we seem to have lost touch with it. To have (ironically) buried it. Acknowledging it brings meaning and purpose to life. I hope that by the time my daughters are old enough to read this, death will be back on the table. No taboo. Part of what makes life better, not solely harder.

 

 

 

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