Every single year I look forward to my birthday with the excitement of a child. I LOVE my birthday and getting older has never been an issue for me. I love the idea of being older and wiser and my life has definitely gotten a lot better with age. I guess that’s why it was a big surprise to me to discover that I’m terrified of this birthday. For the first time, getting older seems like the most awful thing for me. It took me a while to put my finger on why it was bothering me so much but eventually, this is what I came up with.
I had a baby and his birth story was a disaster. I nearly died. He was in NICU. We spent the first year of his life with me mostly in hospital and having surgery. I didn’t get to breast feed, he bonded with his dad more than he did me and I felt like I had a) missed out on the most important thing to ever happen to me and b) failed as a woman and a mother. Of course I know these are both completely rubbish but I feel so cheated. And yeah, I didn’t die and I’m grateful for every minute but I’m also struggling not to wish that things had been different. I just want a normal, boring birth story. I just want a do over where I don’t have a million things go wrong and we have the perfect birth and then we all go home happily smiling together. Getting older is reminding me that I don’t get to do this again. I don’t get to try for another baby and experience this differently. This is it. This is my only ever memory of being a mom to a newborn. I guess I just have to deal with it and that’s fine. I will. This birthday has just triggered up all the what ifs about having another baby. I can’t have another child so that’s that isn’t it.
Secondly, my dad died when he was 46. Turning 36 is a big reminder of how he’s not ageing but I am. How he’s forever 46 and I am not that 23 year old I was when he died. I’m now only 10 years away from the age he was when he died. I don’t want to be older than my dad just yet. I’m not ready for that experience. You always think you have someone in your life for all eternity but then suddenly you don’t. Getting older and settling into my life has made me so aware of his absence. All the things I’m doing right now that I just want to tell him about but I can’t. It’s kinda funny because for the first time in my life, I know he’d be proud of me and somehow that makes me feel even sadder than when I wondered if he would be.
Anyway, positive Polly has decided to put together a cheer herself up list of 36 things that define her at 36.
Some of them are things I’ve done, some of them things I’ve achieved and others, just about who I am and what I love.
So here they are, 36 for 36!
- Oden – having my son has been the best thing to ever happen to me. Motherhood is HARD but wow, I love being his mom. I love everything about my beautiful son.
- Gerard – I never wanted to get married but boy oh boy am I thankful for this man.
- Moving to New Zealand. With no support system, no friends over here, no nothing.
- Having the skills that enabled us to get to New Zealand.
- Travelling alone at 23 – across the world, from Asia, Europe, Britain, South America, Australia – wow, what a ride!
- The trip to Morocco with my mom.
- Sky diving – I’m terrified of heights!
- My Masters degree.
- Getting into law school, even if I failed horrifically.
- Making my grandfather so proud by being the first in my family to go to University and get a degree.
- Being really good with money.
- My go-to advice lines; Michaela and my mom! Thank you for always picking up the phone when I need advice.
- My family! We may all be so different but I love my family. I love that we are always there for each other when we need to be.
- My ethics – I know what I believe in and I stand up for what I know is right.
- Being able to compromise – it’s not always easy but if an argument or reasoning is more sensible than my opinion, I’m willing to learn.
- Not dying. I think this one is pretty self explanatory.
- Being humble! (Ironic to put this on this post probably)
- Working for the New Zealand government. Dream come true!
- The friendships I’ve built along the way. Especially, the one’s who have been there for me every step of this move. The one’s who stood up when I needed help with no questions and no hesitations. The one’s who I have never met in person but still speak to every day, the one’s who I met in my new country and who I can’t imagine a life without. Thankful for all of you.
- Being able to forgive. I don’t carry hatred and burdens in my heart.
- Letting go of toxic people and being able to walk away knowing the relationship served a purpose and is over.
- My heart – always willing to help people.
- Being authentic. 100% committed to not giving a flying fuck about what people think of me. I am all about being unapologetic for being me.
- My rose tinted glasses. I have this magic ability to find the positive in ANY situation. Life is what you make it. You can sit down and let it run you over or you can ride the wave.
- Ha, waves… SURFING. I love that I used to surf even if I really have no desire to surf now.
- Horses. I love riding. It will always be a part of my heart.
- My African heritage. No matter where I go and what I do I will always be a Swazi- South African. That will never change. My roots are so important to me and my son will grow up knowing that no matter how blonde and blue eyed he may look, his roots are African and his mamma is this mixed race Swazi girl. Knowing where you come from is something that I grew up knowing mattered.
- I love online shopping – even if I only actually buy anything 10% of the time I have stuff in my cart.
- White wine – oh lord what would summer be without the perfect glass of wine.
- Getting tattoos. Feel free to send me vouchers for the next one I’m planning 😛 -it’s a half sleeve so eep!
- Getting to discover this new life of ours with childlike wonder and awe. I am so thankful for this country that took us in and made us feel at home. I am thankful for the circle of friends we have made here so quickly and for the days of sunshine that really, make Wellington incredible.
- Trusting my intuition. I almost always go with my gut feeling and I can’t say it often lets me down. It’s something I really value about myself.
- Raising my son to be the independent little thinker that he is.
- My health. I put on so much weight after Oden was born. Being in hospital and injured and recovering and depressed really ruined my body. I’m finally starting to see traces of my old self coming back. I’m feeling stronger than I have in a long time.
- Safety. I am so thankful for being able to safely walk down the street. It’s such a big part of the life we live now and the things we do together as a family.
- Being resilient. If the last decade of my life has taught me anything, it’s that my ability to bounce back in hard times is second to none. I honestly think resilience is my number one personality trait and it’s something I am really proud of.
As hard as facing this birthday was for me, initially, it’s something I am grateful for. I almost missed out on all of this life and I am so aware of every minute that I’ve been given to stick around. I know so much of this list might seem cheesy and so what but honestly, this is my life and I am so proud of it.
So woah, I’m 36 and I can’t wait to see what this year brings!
Happy 36th Birthday to me!