Tuesday 25 September 2018

Grey hairs, check, forgetfulness, check - mid-life crisis here I come

Ambitious clothes and cars of the mid-life crisis years beckon, now that I'm 40.
Ambitious clothes and cars of the mid-life crisis years beckon, now that I'm 40.

By davID looby

THE language was unsparing. Cruel.

It cut to the bone.

Waking on your 40th birthday to 'YOU'RE SO OLD DADDY!', was not how I imagined to start my new life as a fortysomething. On a morning of such cosmic, karmic, everything significance, I'm not sure exactly what I expected, but not such a hard shot to the solar plexus (and ego!). Coming from a 4-and-one-week-year-old, it had an added punch, even if its real import was merely to eject me from the bed, as I hilariously thought I'd be granted a lie in.

Sandwiched days between The Little Fella and the Whirlwind Princess's birthdays, my 40th (and all my birthdays in fact), is more an afterthought every year. After 21 they're all just numbers anyway. So it was that I spent my 'big day' shopping for the children's party, along with the usual Daddy duties: acting as policeman, jury, judge, Soloman: breaking up fights, arbitrating disputes, making promises no human could honestly keep, inventing off-the-cuff plans for 2018 which may or may not be realised. Basically, walking the wibbly, wobbly tightrope of parenthood, while trying not to have a nervous breakdown.

Turning 30 was something that I, like many people, dreaded. 'Where I am in my life? When will I get my act together? Why am I spending €750 a month renting this house? Why can't I make a bed?' These are all questions that lurked around my head like jagged shadows.

Turning 40 was going to be a piece of cake, I told myself. With two children, I had little time to think about it anyway. Then the morning arrived and I suddenly turned into a petulant child with a wishlist of demands. I wanted this and I wanted that, before tumbling into an existential crisis.

Lost in a list of chores and other people's lives, I finally broke free long enough to grab a celebratory meal with my father and even then the restaurant staff sang 'Happy Birthday' to him and not me! Spending time with elderly people has a habit of putting some perspective on your life. Their musings about how children grow up so fast and how much the life of a child and one's own life as a young(ish) parent are treasured moments in time, eventually start to ring true.

After two weeks of tragedy in my locality, tragedies which saw two amazing young parents die suddenly, leaving their loved ones grasping for meaning and trying to make sense of their futures, I felt perspective more and more as I went through the day.

A few grey hairs on the head and forgetfulness are tiny prices to pay to still be here, enjoying so much that life throws my way.

I get flustered, my words get jumbled in times of stress, I still can't make a bed properly, or do an eye popping number of things, but I'm lucky enough to have great friends, family, a great job and my health.

I've a thousand things I want to achieve over the next decade. Learning to swim is one, getting a book published another, getting the house and decking sorted, bringing the children to Disneyland, I forget the rest, but that's the years for you.

Heaven knows I've got a lot of things wrong over the years and with time I have learned. Being true to yourself, speaking your truth, writing your truth, being there for family and friends, children, partner - travelling, being open to new experiences.

All these things are so important. By some trillion-to-one chance I am here and I am alive, breathing and well, able to dance and have another spin on the cosmisc, karmic merry-go-round. Hallelujah!

Wexford People