Eight Weeks to Wed: An Update

Last weekend I went to Las Vegas for my hen party with six close friends. It was predictably fabulous. We crammed an enormous amount of fun into a short space of time and did ourselves – and Vegas – proud. Wild, unbridled hedonism like that is harder to come by as you march inexorably further into adulthood, which is why it’s so important to appreciate it when you have it. The same applies to friendships. Whilst they should be nurtured throughout life, opportunities to  celebrate them become fewer and farther between as the myriad demands of life creep into our daily existence. And so the memories of last weekend and all the laughs we shared will stay with me forever. I am truly grateful.

And now it’s time to look ahead. Eight weeks ahead, in fact, to my wedding day. As a child I always dreamed of this occasion, wondering who I would marry (or, more specifically, who would want to marry me!) Now it’s nearly here it feels surreal, like a dream. The organisation has been a  challenge, but I know it will be worth it when we look around at the hundred or so loved ones who are so generously travelling to Austria to share it with us. I feel so blessed not only to have met the man I want to spend the rest of my life with, and to be so utterly confident in that statement, but also to have such wonderful and supportive people in my life.

Getting married feels like such a grown up thing to do. I feel ready for it, yet at the same time the little girl in me is tugging at my sleeve, chewing her nails down to the stub with worry. Will I be a good wife? A good mother? Am I actually mature enough to take this step? I have always felt a dichotomy within me. On the one hand there is the dreamer, the thinker, the artist; the one who likes to party and who yearns to travel, to explore, to be free. And on the other is the planner, the matriarch-in-waiting who wants nothing more than to care for others, to have a family and thrive on being responsible for others, instead of being concerned only with myself.

In some respects I suppose I’ve always felt that having a family would save me from myself, and stop me from pursuing the relentless search for meaning that drives my every waking moment. But now I’m on the cusp of that I’m filled with fear; of all that I ‘should’ have done up to this point in my life, and of all I will not be able to do if and when I take that next step. I suppose these worries are normal, and that everyone has them at some point in the run up to making such a big commitment to another person.

I don’t expect for one moment that getting married will mean a life free of worry and drama; far from it. But what it will do is cement our partnership in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of God, in whom I do believe, at least in some form. It is a statement of intent on both our parts that we are prepared to put each other first, to work through all our issues together, and to co-create a stable and loving environment for our future children. The divorce rates reported so gleefully in the news don’t bother me at all. Marriage has always been important to me, and I am entering into it with my eyes and heart wide open.

The fun-loving, free-spirited party girl will always be a part of me, I have no intention of shunning her or locking her away. But despite my fears what is becoming ever clearer to me is that I owe it to myself to explore the other side of who I am, to get to know the girl who wants so desperately to help, to make a difference, to put love above all else.

This is a new chapter in the story of my life. And I am ready to turn the page.


What Grown-ups don’t tell you about Growing Up…

Earlier today I was washing my hands in front of the bathroom mirror when I noticed something horrifying – what looked suspiciously like a grey hair. Now I know we all go grey eventually, and I’m also aware as a result of my peers’ experiences that it’s not uncommon for the odd grey to sprout in your early thirties. But, naively it now seems, I thought that just applied to people with dark hair (the recent media furore surrounding Kate Middleton’s apparently greying locks not having escaped my attention), not blondes. And I certainly never thought it would apply to me.

I’ll never forget the day my mum came into my bedroom when I was at home one weekend several years ago. She looked into the mirror and announced in a pained voice: “You know darling, when I look at myself now I can’t believe it’s really me – inside I still feel the same as I did when I was in my twenties. It’s horrible getting old.”

That moment was a turning point for my twenty-something self, as hitherto I’d always laboured under the misapprehension that one day – most likely when I hit my thirties, which at that time still felt like aeons away – I would magically feel grown up and more than able to assume the responsibilities befitting such a status. Realising this would not, in fact, be the case, was like receiving an unwanted and aggressive slap in the face.

No matter how much you sugar coat it, the truth is that there is no magic age when you become a grown-up – indeed many people (and I fear I may fall into this category) go through their whole lives never quite feeling like one (conversely, some people – who are in the minority, I might add – seem to have come out of the womb responsible adults, though for the purpose of this post I shan’t get into talking about them). When our bodies begin to show signs of ageing, therefore, it feels like a betrayal. How can we have grey hairs – surely a sign of our imminent demise? – when we still feel (and often act) like teenagers? It’s not fair! (I am stamping my feet as I type this – very mature).

Having re-examined the rogue hair in the mirror this afternoon I think I may, in fact, have been mistaken about it being grey. But, whether it was a trick of the light or not, something tells me that moment might have been quite pivotal in the next stages of my development. Each decade brings with it new learnings, and today I’ve discovered that grey doesn’t equal grave. A cheery thought to leave you with on a Friday!

Return of the domestic goddess

Love it or hate it, we all turn into grown-ups in the end and today I think I may have officially made the transition. Why? Because today, instead of having a long lie in and spending the day loafing around in my pyjamas watching old episodes of Don’t Tell The Bride (don’t judge me) and eating Hagen Dazs out of the tub, I was up at 9am to clean the flat from top to bottom before heading to a dentist appointment, returning some time later with a bag full of ingredients for a slow cooked lamb tagine. I also stopped off at the hardware store on the way home to purchase a new draining rack, a soap dish and a pair of tea towels. And, if the garden shop on the high street hadn’t had such a pathetic selection of stock I might have brought back a plant or two for the flat – dare I say even herbs in a window box? What has become of me?

There’s probably no cause to worry just yet that my youth has finally forsaken me. Rather, this is the yin and yang principle at work again, redressing nature’s fragile balance after a couple of days of hedonistic fun at Carnival. And, being completely honest, Don’t Tell The Bride and a grab bag of roast beef flavoured Monster Munch *may* have featured somewhere on today’s itinerary…What can I say? Whether young or old, old habits die hard.