A side note on being 30 and female.
I have perhaps lured you in with the promise of a festival fun extravaganza, but before we get to that I just wanted to write a little about something else that has been on my mind.
Throughout my 20s I was always coming across articles written by girls who were at ‘that stage’. The stage when some of their friends had decided to settle down and have children, but they themselves were finding it tricky keeping a cactus alive, and couldn’t even begin to comprehend life with a small child. And on top of this, they weren’t even sure they would ever reach ‘that stage’, when they would want to give up their freedom (partying, cigarettes, careers) and do the baby thing.
And at the time I read these articles and thought I understood – of course having your own baby is hard work. And if you are the kind of person who highly values your freedom you might need to think long and hard before taking this momentous step.
But something else has happened, something they never wrote about, and something I was completely unprepared for. And it has crept up on me unawares.
At the grand age of 30, I have a fair few friends with their own wee bairns, some with multiple ones. And what I am finding hardest, is not the thought that one day I might have to choose to become a more responsible adult myself. Instead, it is a sense of loss, of friendships that have changed, and the time that friends (quite understandably) no longer have for me. And not only the time, but their shift in interests and priorities, (babies and baby).
And it is the sense of loneliness that has started to grow out of this, that I was so unprepared for. The friends who have seemingly moved on with their lives, who can’t just spontaneously pop to the pub, or come over for supper last minute, who have far larger problems on their hands than my bad day at work. I do not begrudge them this, it is more a shift in my own perspective, a realisation that their priorities are no longer on a similar level to mine.
I am however, certain this is not a one way thing, to me motherhood appears quite a lonely existence at times. Someone once described the early days to me as being ‘like Groundhog Day’, another person as ‘being given time off work to spend every day focusing solely on a new relationship’ (enough to drive anyone slightly mad). And I also know that many friends wish that they did still have this freedom, to just pop out on a whim and meet up whenever.
It makes me sad to think that we are all just sitting about being a bit lonely with or without children, our days completely at odds with each other, mothers at home having the day free but not the evening, and vice versa for every working girl. I have very few friends who have gone back to work yet post baby, but the next step, of working all day and tending to children all evening, leaving very little time for anything else, is for me, a slightly fearful prospect.
It’s an experience I was not prepared for, and has taken me by surprise. One that no one warned me about. And it has made me realise that it is so important to value your friendships when you are all just you, because when that small person comes along, however much you don’t want it to, a very small yet perceptible shift will occur.
And for the moment it feels as though it will only become more acute, as more friends decide it is the right time for them to have children and join the mother ‘club’. And it’s not only friends – colleagues too suddenly disappear off on maternity leave, many deciding not to come back because child care is so expensive.
Of course it is absolutely amazing to see my friends as mothers, and to see them happy, and growing their own families. But it is easy to yearn for the time when plans and conversations did not revolve around tiny offspring who, however sweet and amusing they may be, do demand attention all of the time.
It has also made me feel (and I hope not in too much of a deplorable way) that it is important to embrace every opportunity for adventure right now. And If you’d like to join me I’d be so happy for that 🙂
And now for a festival themed party.
When attending a festival (and admittedly I have only been to one before), it is important to choose your festival partners wisely. There are those friends who love camping and always have their tent and trangia at the ready, but deplore dancing. These will not do. And others who are always ready for a boogie, but are still suffering from D of E camping nightmares (best not take them, no one wants histrionics in a tent). And those who will not camp nor dance (we do not talk of these).
Luckily I have friends who are willing for any sort of adventure large or small. We decided on costumes (turning up to a themed party not in fancy dress is always a big no no), and set off on a Saturday from London for a field in the rather wet and sodden English countryside.
On arrival we popped up our tent (quite literally, it was one of those pop-upable ones), pulled on our wellies and raincoats over our sequins and went to investigate what sort of fun was on offer.
Although it did rain for part of the evening, we had such such a good time. It was all charmingly make-shift in a field, with hay bales around a fire, and one main stage for the bands. There was a mix of long wax, Dubarry wearing grown-ups with their shooting sticks at the ready, intermingled with those (both young and old) in head-to-toe sequins and colourful wigs. And a number of dogs running hither and thither, having the most wonderful time.
We danced a lot, there was a ukulele band among others, we had glitter painted on our faces, and drank some beers and even graffitied a wall (with permission). We danced until about 3am and then found our way back to our tent for a well-earned, slightly cosy, snooze.
It was so much fun. Below are some photos, because sometimes photos are best.