I’m 43. I guess I’m halfway through my life. I’ve done lots. I’ve travelled the world. I’ve had many jobs, many lovers, many rashes… and now I’m settled down with 3 children in a normal house on an ordinary street with a mortgage and a dog.
I am middle-aged. The age where I’m surprised by my own farts and I make a weird grunting noise when I get out of a chair. The age when I should be doing regular exercise and eating clean, instead of scoffing chocolate brownies in the bath. The age where I should know what I want and be content with what I’ve got.
I should be satisfied, be leaping out of bed each morning with enthusiasm, excited as to what another sunny day will bring.
I’m lucky. Happy. At least I think I am…
So why do I often wake up with a sense of impending doom?
What is it? Why do I feel like something is out to get me when all that surrounds me is lovely?
Is this state of mind normal? Is it only when we are truly happy that we feel unsatisfied?
Is that what a mid-life crisis is?
If so, then I’m in the midst of it. Secretly.
I have a ‘what’s next?’ attitude. I hate it about myself. My grass is greener way of being means I can never be 100% fulfilled.
When things become still, I want to shake them. When it’s quiet I want to scream and when there is nothing, I want everything.
A mid-life crisis sounds cliché, but I’m starting to understand it.
For me, it doesn’t show itself in an extrovert display like the word ‘crisis’ secretes. It’s not as extreme as buying a red Ferrari or trading my adorable husband in for a younger model with tighter pecks. It’s not even the sort of emergency that has me crying to a therapist on a chaise longue.
It’s a subtle ache. An underlying unhappiness just below the surface. One that is so minuscule that it really isn’t even worth mentioning to anyone. A very un-dramatic sense of loss.
It’s wanting to be who I once was combined with who I imagined I would become.
This sadness sits below my smile. I suppress it to keep the status quo. To keep my family happy. I push it down to where no one can see it. I don’t want to seem ungrateful or unhappy.
I am grateful and I’m very happy.
I just get bit bored of all this shit.
I suppose boredom is what fuels a mid-life crisis. That feeling of wanting a change. Wanting out. This is the point in life when some marriages fail. Partners desire something else, something more exciting. A life beyond their current situation.
My marriage is presently only to my children, my husband is on the back burner, don’t worry, he’s quite happy there, luckily a divorce is not on the cards. But I do feel the same woe that a person in a failing relationship might feel. That desire for more excitement but living in a jaded mood.
I too am bored, bored of hunting for lost shoes, turning off lights and getting poo under my fingernails. I’m fed up with doing the Aldi shop, the school pick-up and the quick tidy round.
I’m bored of repeating the same thing, of shouting when I shouldn’t, of sweeping pasta spirals out of the same spot every bloody day. I’m bored of being a Mum. But hey, I asked for this didn’t I?
Becoming a parent was a choice. I wanted kids; I made that decision. But truthfully, I didn’t realise how huge the impact would be. I thought they’d be more compliant, easier; love me so much that they would do as they were told.
I didn’t know that you have to tell them the same thing a thousand times and that nothing I did would be good enough. I didn’t know how stubborn children are or how manipulative they can be. I was naive.
‘I will have some babies and live happily ever after’.
Er, no. Sorry love. That’s just in fairy tales.
I could never have predicted how all-encompassing life is with three darling children or how tiresome motherhood actually is.
In times of strife, I soak up my boredom by wishing I was somewhere else. Once they’re in bed, having finished their daily trampling of me, I daydream. I contemplate the time before them and the time when they have gone. I think about the person that sits dormant beneath my skin, I pine for her and for her freedom. The solo walks along beaches and the strolls through grounds of mysterious temples. I crave time spent jotting down stories in bulging diaries or simply sitting on a curb watching the world pass me by.
Because I can’t be her again, I grab my phone and google holidays I can’t afford. I stare at women in bikinis on Cruise Ships holding cocktails as bolognaise burns on the stove top. I trawl through palm fringed retreats and salivate over resorts that have sun beds surrounded by water, where handsome waiters bring drinks served in watermelons.
I plan out of reach getaways as I run a bath for my baby and ‘like’ faraway havens on my Facebook feed as I heat up milk in the microwave. These wistful visualisations break up my boredom and help me imagine a life beyond the monotonous wheel of parenting.
I don’t know why I do it to myself. It’s not like I haven’t been that girl in the picture, I have. I looked more like an over cooked sausage in a bikini than her, but I have been there! I have had a life. So, I don’t know why I can’t be satisfied with the humdrum.
Perhaps if humans were totally satisfied, we wouldn’t strive for more? We wouldn’t move forward. Maybe that slight sense of disappointment is what spurs me on?
I love my children but, life can be tedious. Repeating the same routine every day gets damn gloomy. The feeling I wake up to is boredom. It sits heavy in my heart at the start of each day. That’s the sadness. That’s the crisis. Knowing my day is going to be the same as the day before makes me despondent.
But I get up. I kiss my kids good morning and hug my husband as he passes me a mug of coffee. I shake off the blues before I get caught. Before they’re noticed.
‘Yes, I’m fine. Just a bit tired’
I get on with my day. My day that could have been any day last week or any day in the next decade. I made this choice and no matter how much I wish it was more exciting there is really nothing I can do about it.
I will have to be patient. My shiny time will come again. That carefree girl on the curb will have to stay hidden in the place between my morning melancholy and my first coffee.
I am not ashamed to admit that I get bored of motherhood or that I feel sad and isolated at times. I don’t feel guilty about needing time away. It’s what will keeps me strong.
I don’t hate being a mother but I’m not going to pretend I love it all the time either.
The children challenge me and reward me. They punch me with one hand and tickle me with the other. I love them with every aching bone in my tubby middle-aged body. The love in-between their demands is what makes that decision to become a mum, right.
I’d just like something in return every now and again.
Not a dead flower from the garden or a pin cushion made in class. Not a cuddle or a long soak in the bath…
I want time. A break. A massage or a night in a hotel. I want to go for a walk or sit in a hammock with the sun shining down on me.
I want them to leave me the hell alone… just for a minute.
Please give me a moment away from the boredom. Some time to remember who I am. Give me some space so I can come back and be the best Mum I can. The one that sings ‘The sweet gingerbread man’ song while dancing around the kitchen counter. The mum that does the greatest gibbon walk and gives the best sniffy dog snuggle in the universe.
Give me some space so I can give you the world.
That’s it. Simple.