I’m teaching an online blogging course at the moment over at We Teach Social and one of the things I tell my blogging students is that reading other blogs can inspire your own posts. I have been thinking about writing a post to a younger self for a while and two blog posts I read recently have made me put fingers to keyboard here. I’m conscious that I’ve always been fairly independent, matter-of-fact, relatively fiery at times, always wanted to write a book but the inspiration or the timing never seemed right. However, I am convinced that those who say ‘Life beings at 40’ are very accurate.
Elaine at NewFarmerette was bemoaning hitting 36 last week (and yes, I have to admit that I was thinking to myself that she is still a young ‘un with nothing to worry about but I can also remember what it feels like) and Tric at My Thoughts on a Page just wrote about her previous reluctance to put her writing out there.
Hitting 40 was a bit of a sore point. I had always imagined we’d have 4 kids by the time I was 40 or I’d be pregnant with our fourth. Having had first and second at just 33 and 35, I had it all planned to have third and fourth at 38 and 40. But life doesn’t work to plan and yes, I struggled with that and with some depression for a wee while.
Now that I am 44, I couldn’t be happier or more content and I’ve learnt quite a bit about myself too. That I really don’t give a s**t what anyone thinks – not really. Yes, I’d be delighted if everyone loves my book but realistically that is not going to happen. I was nervous sending it out to a few friends who are helping with the proofreading as I really do care about their opinion and yes, it would be great to read glowing blog reviews and hear that people think it is really funny but if it doesn’t happen – I will still have written a book. I’ve been meaning to write a book for the last 6 years and have 40,000 words of a novel somewhere. Yes, I may take it out again at some point – at the moment, I’ve caught the farming book bug and have another planned for next year. The crowdfunding made me realise that sometimes you just have to put your shoulders back, push the fear aside and go for it.
I love feeling contented. I went through a period where I was a fog, where I hated getting up in the mornings. I wasn’t badly depressed either, not compared to some. I love that while it is hard to get up when I’m tired and it’s cold, I’m happy bouncing out of bed. I’m happy walking the kids to the bus, happy that my 9 year old still holds my hand and gives me a hug before the bus comes, happy to walk back up to the house and get stuck into my book or a ghost blog or a social media lesson. I’m not religious as such but I do feel blessed to have two such wonderful, caring, beautiful, intelligent, fabulous kids. The husband isn’t bad either!
I’ve also learnt that I will never make a good housekeeper but life is too short. Someday I will get a cleaner. I said to my husband earlier that I need to plan a really nice day off as a reward once this book goes to the printers and my ebook is formatted – otherwise I will just keep writing. While the house gets its quick hoover and dust, furniture needs to be pulled out, wardrobes need a sort out, windows need a clean (no, not a clean, a scrub), hotpress (airing cupboard) needs to be emptied and sorted, oven needs to be cleaned, rooms need painting, floors need a good scrub, leak in shower needs to be sorted, kitchen cupboards need to be cleaned out, broken window needs to be fixed – you can see why I just want to keep writing and ignore it all. So, before I embark on a week of cleaning, I need a treat and I couldn’t think of anything. I’m not into spas, I would stick pins in my eyes before heading off a girly day of shopping, I can’t sit in the house and relax with a book and ignore the mess so I am trying to think of something that would be a big treat – some time to myself but doing what? So, 39 year old self, sort yourself out and don’t work so hard that you forget what you enjoy doing in your leisure time. I will probably head to a favourite bookshop with €50 in my pocket and then go to a nice cafe and read for a couple of hours.
I’ve always known that I’m an intensely protective mum. I’ve known that others thought I was a bit mad when the kids were young, when I didn’t chastise my son for crying easily, when I fed him till he was 2 although heavily pregnant with Kate, that I wasn’t worried about him being so sensitive or so ‘young’ for his age. I’ve been amused that people thought I was mad still feeding my daughter too till she was 29 months, even though she was so tall for her age (I lost loads of weight – it was great, and neither of them have any allergy problems which was my main reason). I’ve learnt in the last year too that I definitely don’t care what others think, that even though the teachers are wonderful, sometimes you just have to tackle parents and be blunt (and boy, can I be blunt when I am protecting my kids!!!) and it does sort things out and that is all that matters. I will never be the most popular mother in the playground but I’ve never been the type of person to need lots of friends. Give me one or two good friends and I am happy. 39 year old self, don’t wait so long to kick ass next time.
5 years ago, Ireland was a very different place. People were much more materialistic, the emphasis seemed to be on monetary success. I’ve never been that materialist (just as well – there’s very few wealthy farmers around) and as long as I have a few decent items in the wardrobe, a reliable car, a warm house with an open fire, good books, can afford my health insurance (yep, I don’t trust the Irish medical service) and the whole family is healthy, I’m happy. It is nice to have reached a stage, even though the country is in recession, that so many other people are like that too – they value what they have and it isn’t all money in the bank. Yes, I know people are struggling and I’m wincing thinking of our current overdraft too. My 39 year old self used to feel that I should be wealthier, not necessarily to display it, just to feel wealthier in monetary terms. Sorry if this makes you cringe reading it but if this is what middle age and one’s 40s brings in terms of contentment, I’m looking forward to my 50s!
So, 39 year old self, keep doing what you love – blogging, writing, being a full-time mum. Grab the bull by the horns, be impulsive, collaborate with brilliant people and let things grow naturally (blog becomes book, klck bloggers network becomes blog awards). I didn’t even know about blog awards early in 2010 and in 2012, I’m organising one – who knows what the future holds – as long as you are prepared to go for things, anything can happen. The journey is the best bit of any goal so there’s no panic on winning a huge achievement either.
Just to give you a heads up as the blog might be down for a couple of days as we transfer everything across to the new website. It should be available on http://www.irishfarmerette.wordpress.com though. Now that this personal blog has become more businessy (yes, I have a book to sell!) I wonder will I feel the need to start another personal one – it will be interesting to see. I have plans to write posts here from the perspective of a dairy heifer calf once a favourite is born in February. Looking forward to that too. The next month is going to be busy but very exciting. I’ll have an exact date from the printers too later in the week regarding when I’ll have the book in my sticky paws. I will leave you with a draft of an illustration from the book (we are changing her skirt to a jeans) – I love this one.