Through the years…. a message to my younger self.

Loving life and enjoying having fun with my children and all that has to offer. They don’t want to hold my hand anymore but that’s ok 😊, because the flip side of that is freedom to do things Ted and I enjoy without the restraints of the responsibilities a young family brings . Every stage in life is special. 9FD8D50A-74DE-4E1C-9146-39BB948BCF6B

Recently I drove down a suburban street in a Hawthorn  past a school. It was a Friday afternoon as all the kids were being picked up. It’s been 2 years since Archie finished year 12. He is 20 and the youngest of my 3 children. Rupert is now married at 28, Jane 24 and in her final years of university. I watched the kids walking with parents and although I don’t miss the school routine I thought about how when you are in that time of your life you don’t really appreciate it. You yourself are young, often in your 30’s and life is flying by. My life was such a blur in my 30’s. So busy, so much emotionally going on.

https://the-world-thru-my-eyes.blog/2017/11/08/when-death-comes-knocking-at-your-door-on-some-idle-

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The Art of happiness

To my younger self I think embrace every part of your life because in every part there’s experiences that will pass that you never get back.

One of those being your young life!

I’ve happily have moved on to the next part of my life. I love not being tied to school hours and kids activities. I love the freedom that has given me and the extra time I have to enjoy doing what I want.

I say this as I spend a weekend on the Gold Coast with Ted. Now I can do things like that. No need for babysitters, no sporting events to drop kids to, no parties to buy presents for, drop offs or pick ups. Leave work, get the sky bus to the airport, leave Melbourne for the weekend, come back Monday, go straight to work. I love this freedom.

Every stage of life is great and creates wonderful memories even if terrible things happen, life still goes on around you.

That cliché saying, enjoy the journey whilst waiting to arrive at the destination is so true.

Around some terrible experience that may happen to you, life is happening. Moving forwards from that experience or even during the experience it is one part of your day-to-day life. It impacts on you emotionally and often consumes you but whilst being consumed in that emotion and physical state you still have to get up, the sun rises, the bins need to be put out, lawns mowed, bills to pay, a career to be maintained, children to care for and there are people in your life you are interacting with.

This is what I wrote back in 2016 when Archie finished year 12.

In a couple of months our family will leave our school. For the past continual 21 years of my life it has been a part of my everyday routine.

21 years of paying school fees which requires a certain level of personal financial sacrifice, encouraging kids to do homework, parent teacher interviews, parent education sessions, parent information sessions, career expos, ensuring uniforms are clean, lunches/canteen orders organised, myki cards have funds available, school excursions, sporting events, presentation nights, school social functions, parties, assemblies, school fates, school plays, house performance nights, camps and not to mention every term (4) per year spanning 21 years of voluntary service in reading and first aid that’s has taken time out of my days.

All this to try to give my kids the best school and education experience I could.

But it’s coming to and end. 21 years in a significant portion of my life.

I’m ready though. As much as I think it’s nearly over, I’m ready to say good-bye to those years.

It’s been quite demanding doing all this particularly as a sole parent. We’ve made lovely friendships and the school has been very supporting to us. And I’m now ready to move towards to the next 21 years of my life.

2005- 2016 a generation of time.

Jane is now doing her second degree – Juris Doctor

Rupert- is a chartered accountant working at Ernst Young

And Archie is not far of sitting his VCE exams. ( studying for the exams would be a good idea Archie)

Overall I think what Harry and I set out to achieve 21 years ago has gone ok. Archie has not exactly embraced the academic opportunity but has certainly enjoyed his schooling life.

It’s a lot of years of your life to invest .

During that 21 years I went from being a 29 -year-old young women with her life ahead of her to a 50 -year -old middle-aged women. That 21 years above was during my young female adult life. The cover photo above is me on a recent holiday in Exmouth Western Australia loving life as a 52-year-old and I’m happy. Enjoying the spoils that sometimes you only can after the financial and parental demands of your younger adult years have passed.

Diving with Whale Sharks #ningalooreef #exmouth #westernaustralia #westaustralianholiday #westernaustraliatourism #accomodationwesternaustralia #fishwesternaustralia #divewesternaustralia #snorkelwesternaustralia

The  21 years, my 30’s and 40’s has gone. As I watched the young mothers walking along the footpath away from the school and their primary aged children holding their hands, it hit me that was once me, that young 30 something mother.

I was once living that life. What struck me when looking at the mums, wasn’t that they were mums so much as young. I was admiring their youth. Young beautiful women. I remembered how I felt at school pick up time. I didn’t feel young, I didn’t feel beautiful, I often felt tired, stressed and thinking about tea that needed cooking, what after school activities one of the children may have needed to get to & bothered by the congestion that surrounds a school at 3 pm when you are rushing to get those things I was thinking about,  done. Was this how those mothers were feeling I wondered. They didn’t look any of those things, they looked like young women strolling along the path with their children. Not tired, not rushed.

It dawned on me that I was young and beautiful yet I didn’t feel it. Where had my young adult years gone. I was once those mums.

Recently Ted and I met with a 72-year-old professionally trained women still working part-time in her profession. It’s not a career that requires physical work so the body takes a lesser beating and perhaps her chosen career path allows for longevity. I look on her zest for life admirably. She is 72 and we talked about retirement and working. Ted is someone who plans to keep working into his 70’s. He mentioned something about getting older and that he is now 58. She laughed and said you are young. Compared to her he is. We often see ourselves as older at whatever age we are. But when you look back the other way, we are the younger generation to someone else.

To this woman, we are what those 30 something year old mums are to me.

I often reflect on parenting. When you have a baby, there’s the sleepless nights, the disrupt to income when on maternity leave. When you have toddlers, you are exhausted because they are on the move all the time. You barely sit still. When they are school age you are exhausted often being a working mother with the demands of school homework, volunteer work for the good of the school community, getting kids to after school activities. When your children are teenagers there’s the late night party pick ups, still being a working mum, more extra curricular activities to taxi for and the stress of parenting your adolescent to young adulthood. When they get a driver’s licence, there’s still the late nights only now laying awake worrying if they are ok until you know they are safely home. Parenting never stops but I wouldn’t change it for the world, I guess however, it would’ve been nice to stop and smell the roses more.

What I didn’t do enough was enjoy the younger female me. The young women in the world enjoying being me. I loved being a mum, but I didn’t step back enough and embrace how being young and female was. How beautiful I was. I’m not talking in the sense of beautiful like a model. That was never me at 156cm tall, with chunky legs and an A cup. Well perhaps the A cup. Many waif models  have that but I don’t aspire to be a waif model. I do not support the model industry portrayal that to be beautiful you need to be anorexic like. That actually appalls me.

When I refer to as beautiful, I think young spirited, and having beautiful youthful skin, taught skin. The future still well ahead to make a difference in the world, to enjoy youth and all that comes with that, even the nativity of youth, and that your children adore you and that you are the centre of their world because that goes as well as they get older and evolve. We strive to be more physically appealing in our young adult lives. But you don’t need to be working on the physical beauty. We need to be working on our inner beauty because that’s where true beauty lies. Learning to love ourselves as female and our uniqueness. When you have the gift already of young skin working at enjoying life more or at least appreciating that era of your life is something I could have done better. Enjoying being a young woman.

Something I would say to my younger 16 yo self is to have fun.

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I would say I grew up in a family strict home with not a lot of laughter, love yes but life felt serious. As a girl getting tipsy was frowned upon, coming home after midnight was really bad. Swearing was bad to any degree. It was about being a ‘young lady’. It was about manners, not eating until everyone was seated at the table, helping with chores. Not that any of this was wrong. It’s helped me be who I am and I learnt many important things to function in society as a good citizen but I don’t remember much laughter at home. I had an amazing mum and by no means am I saying she did anything wrong with my upbringing. It did however feel like a serious place my younger teenage life. Lots of rules to abide by and I was not one to push boundaries. Like all teenagers I did things that my parents would of frowned upon but also had in the back of my mind if I got caught out that I would be in big trouble. I never liked being in trouble and having my parents angry at me. It was easier to tow the line.

I always felt when I first started working that 26 was the best age. Why? Living out of home not having to follow your parents rules, having my own money now I was working full-time, basically having the freedom of young adulthood, and at 26 I was loving life, I had just that.

Life continued to be great until ‘death came knocking at our door’. Then I got lost. And for a long time. Lost in the vortex of that all-consuming terrible experience. And one day, many years later, found myself driving past a school in Hawthorn on a Friday afternoon envious and feeling cheated that my 30’s in particular were taken from me and that I didn’t have the ability to step back and enjoy being a young adult women. I drove past thinking how my youth was lost forever that I wished I’d appreciated my children’s love for me more at the time, that I was their universe. Instead I got lost in grief and responsibility and the seriousness of that in my 30’s and didn’t enjoy the innocence of my children, them holding my hand walking to the car, running up to cuddle me when I came home from work, the simple things.

Thank goodness Ted came along and helped me see the sunshine and laughter in my life. His energy and enthusiasm for life, his confidence in me as a person, helped me see myself as a whole person again. He took me into his world and showed me a way of life that I hadn’t experienced before. New experiences. It was the start of a new chapter of embracing life to its fullest and feeling present as I moved into my mid 40’s. I do often think of my 30’s as a dark time in my life, and that’s sad. Sad because, amongst the grief, amongst that terrible stuff happening in my life new friendships where forming, experiences were happening, my children grew up and I was young and beautiful but I didn’t feel it. All this wonderfulness was going on around me and I didn’t embrace it or was able to appreciate it. My 30’s are long gone. The past can not be undone and dwelling on that won’t change things. We can only reflect and take learnings from that.  I feel ok to acknowledge my sadness of what feels like a decade lost. Our past experiences make us who we are today, again, as cliché as that sounds. Today is for living and I’m very blessed to have the people and the life I have. It’s not perfect and that’s ok, that’s life. Amongst the imperfections is great joy and awareness of self. I guess I want to say to those living busy lives who may have lost themselves for some reason or just may be feeling life isn’t where they want it to be and are looking forward to the end. Whatever that may be, whether it be peace, happiness, success or even death, is to step back. Breath, think of the good in your life, love the age you are and remember the journey is more important than the destination because that is what you will reflect on in year’s to come. All that stuff that happens trying to get to the destination and how young you were then.

Love Lucy X

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