June 30th signalled my 40th Birthday. I remember turning 30 like it was yesterday, I was newly married, working, planning a family, going on regular holidays & living a great life.
My thirties have seen some of the best experiences in my life, the birth of our 5 babies, (first set of twins at 32, William at 35 & second set of twins at 36) although heartbreak kicked in when William was born too early & wasn’t able to stay.
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Bringing new babies home is one of the hardest things, never underestimate the stress it can cause, especially when you have the odds stacked against you; twin birth equals 2 babies coming home, having no idea what we were doing, the immense pressure to breastfeed, not to co-sleep, not to use dummies etc not to mention the pressure I put on myself to be the world’s most perfect Mum.
Luckily I have a very supportive family who were always there to help, they loved the babies as much as we did & were always happy to help.
I suffered from Post Natal Depression & Anxiety after the birth of my first set of twins (and second set also) and had been diagnosed with PTSD after the very traumatic birth & experience when we lost our son.
So we have had a lot to deal with in our first 10 years of marriage & although we went through some very rocky times where we couldn’t stand the sight of each other, & we have both thought about throwing in the towel, we love each other, we had a strong friendship before becoming a couple so knew each other’s strengths & weaknesses & had many shared experiences. We share the same values, agree on how our kids should be raised & have this weird ESP where we know what each other is thinking & finish each other’s sentences. I think we are one of the lucky couples who made it out the end of the first 10 years even stronger (let’s see what the next 10 bring!!)
In my mind, in our situation, the 30’s was for starting (and finishing) our family, putting in the groundwork for an easier life somewhere in the future, sacrificing holidays so I could stay home with kids, getting the sleepless nights out of the way, the terrible two’s & all the other fun things we did in our thirties.
Building a solid foundation, so once I breezed into my forties & my kids continued growing, we may be afforded a little more alone time as a couple, be able to travel as a family & really start to enjoy our children as opposed to just being their caretakers that you usually are in their first couple of years of their life.
My best friend & I always had a running joke about our 40th birthday, being only a day apart & how we were going to celebrate. So all in all I really was looking forward to turning 40 & had absolutely no qualms about it whatsoever.
That was until my mum was diagnosed with cancer in 2017 when I was 39 years old.
Myself, my family and family friends were absolutely devastated. It was completely out of the blue & couldn’t have been more unexpected.
Mum’s illness was very quick which was a blessing in disguise & she left this world in September 2017. To say we were all devastated was an understatement.
We have all done it very hard over the last 10 months adjusting to my mum’s absence. My mum & I were very close, she was my best friend as well as my Mum. She had such a strong connection with my kids, stayed 3 months when each set of twins was brought home & helped me through the grief of losing my son William.
She also absolutely adored her grandchildren from my brother. Such a loving & caring nanny & mum who was always putting other people first.
Understandably, losing my mum has changed me & my outlook on life & plans for the future, I naively thought she would be with us for my 50th if not 60th Birthday so the thought of her not being here for my 40th just made me so so sad, even though shedding a tear each and every day is not at all abnormal for me, I was really struggling for the 3 weeks before my birthday and struggling to make it through the day.
Not only would it be the first birthday I would spend without her, but it was also a milestone birthday that I had been looking forward to. Now I didn’t want anything to do with it. I didn’t want to celebrate anything that didn’t include my mum.
I almost felt disloyal even though it was out of my control.Everyone had told me that the first year would be the hardest and that her absence would be especially difficult on special occasions. So far we have survived Christmas, Easter & Mothers Day but this has kicked my arse the hardest.
I know the world keeps turning regardless & symbolically I feel as though I am moving away from my mum in entering a new decade in my life where she can’t join me, it just doesn’t feel natural. I don’t know if I’m using the correct words to convey my feelings but I hope I’m on the right track. I also don’t want to come across as self indulgent. I want to be as authentic, truthful & transparent as possible.
Initially I decided I didn’t even want to acknowledge my birthday, but that wouldn’t be fair on my kids & my mum wouldn’t want me moping around feeling sorry for myself, that’s the last thing she would want.
She was such a positive person & only ever wanted the best for us & that included seeing us happy. I had decided to have a quiet night out with another family that we celebrate both adults & children’s birthdays together & was looking forward to it with my dad coming along also. I took it easy on the vino because I’m still quite emotional & didn’t want to embarrass myself or anyone else by any public displays of emotions.
I wanted to remain in a positive frame of mind, be thankful that I am turning 40 as this is very sadly a privilege denied to many, & be thankful that I got to spend 39 years with such a loving mum who in turn I loved so much, as did my children and my father and brother, her siblings, friends and the rest of her family. I will make sure my kids always know how blessed they were to have a nanny who loved them so much & was so invested in their future and I will be forever thankful for the 39 years I got to spend with this beautiful woman.
Thanks so much for reading, it’s still very difficult for me to write about such personal things objectively given it’s still so recent & raw.
Cheers, have a drink for me :).
**I wrote this in the week leading up to my birthday. I was really struggling with my grief & accepting that life goes on & realising no matter what age I turn or whatever happens in life, that will not affect the strong bond I had with my Mum or change any of my memories. As it turned out I had the most amazing day. I was thoroughly spoiled. My oldest daughter made her & I breakfast in bed which was lovely. I received a lot of lovely phone calls & well wishes on social media, had some beautiful flowers delivered from my brother & his beautiful family & by the end of the day the house looked like a florist (even my florist who is one of the most beautiful people you will meet) dropped me around something special. That evening I went out with one of my closest girlfriend’s (this friend & I have been friends since we were kids & she has been so amazing this last year supporting me) & her family & also my dad. I was so overwhelmed at how everyone had gone out of their way to make my day so special. If you are one of those people and you are reading this, thank you so much & I love you xx
I want to give a special shout out to Julie-Anne B, your Facebook message made my day, I loved it 🙂 I miss you at tennis xx
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