This morning I am feeling every one of my 51 years which could have something to do with the fact that I decided to party like a 15 year-old in celebration of my 51st birthday. I haven’t stopped all weekend and my brain is dead so I’m going to let the pictures do the talking and share a bit of my birthday joy with you.
It all started on Friday night when my sister and brother-in-law popped over with presents. It was great because on Fridays I often stay at my desk until 8pm when the Dojo closes and my warriors return from karate. However my sister tempted me away from my screen and we sat in the sunshine with a bottle of wine as they regaled me with tales from their recent trip to South Africa.
On Saturday I woke early to discover that Mr MC had already disappeared. I opened the bedroom door to hear shouts of “go back to bed” and had to wait until I was summoned. As you know, I’d told everyone that I didn’t want anything other than their time… but the middle one had come up with an idea of his own, repurposing leftover confetti from our friends’ wedding to cover the stairs…
… which led me to a trail of balloons. My journey down went like this (I’ll add notes where insight into idiosyncracies is required)…
One day in Turkey a couple of years ago, Mr MC slogged his way through the sweltering midday heat to procure my favourite fresh sea bass for our evening barbecue. Gasping slightly on his return, he needed to sit down and recover. So, seeing the boy lazing in the air-conditioned cool, he asked him to take the fish up to the roof terrace kitchen along with the barbecue coals he’d bought – fish in the fridge, coals by the barbecue. Later, as the sun was setting, we made our way upstairs, ready to prepare a gourmet supper… only to discover the fish in a pool of slime by the grill… and the coals chilling nicely in the fridge.
As you know from my occasional shoe shots, when we were excavating our old outbuildings for our extension, we discovered a deep well that we subsequently restored and glassed over. Every so often it needs cleaning. One Saturday Mr MC shouted to everyone that the glass was off so we needed to be careful whilst he went to get his ladders and without looking up from their screens, the boys grunted in accord. Five minutes later we heard a yell and found the boy at the bottom of the well with an aggrieved look on his face. Fortunately apart from a few bruises (which continue thanks to his brothers’ love of retelling the story) he wasn’t hurt.
The middle one and I are the reluctant athletes in the family so although we do our best to motivate each other, we’re well matched for our ‘moan and groan’ visits to the gym.
Remember this time last year when I was on my knees with the struggle of getting this particular boy to revise and ended up having to do it with him? He really didn’t appreciate it at the time but… it appears that he does in hindsight!
Some days I think the pets are the only ones who notice that I exist. I confess that I do have a particular voice for each one of them and I swear they listen. Clearly I need to use my cat voice when talking to the middle son – it seems that he takes more notice…
A reference to my pre-HRT midlife moments when we all noticed that I was losing my words. There was an instance when the alarm was sounding in the car and to the boys’ utter joy, I pointed out that Mr MC had forgotten to put his ‘boobies’ on… and on another occasion I was driving the eldest to his restaurant job. The sun was setting and casting a rosy glow on a field full of sheep and I’m afraid that for a moment I did point out how beautiful the flamingos were!
So there you have it… a small insight into the madness of an everyday family. Of course I was quite overwhelmed. We all go through journeys with our children don’t we? Especially in the teen years. This time last year as I’ve said, I was not this son’s favourite person. In his eyes all I was doing was putting him under pressure… and he didn’t care about his GCSEs… he was happy to work in McDonalds for the rest of his life… he didn’t even care about going to Sixth Form anyway… here’s a picture from one of our less productive revision days together (you can see the edges of flipchart paper all over the walls).
I’m telling you this because I suspect that there will be some of you who are at the apex of GCSE hell. Keep going, it’s worth it – they will appreciate your support in the end. The path that you walk with your teens isn’t an easy one. Overnight your open faced, golden child turns into a hormonal maelstrom. You have lots of birthdays when a card is thrust towards you reluctantly and you can sense the repressed sigh when they’re asked to help you celebrate your landmark. As a mother you persevere regardless and then one day, you come through the other side and it’s like seeing the clouds parting after a storm.
The rest of the day
I felt so blessed on Saturday not only by my balloon trail but also by the effort that the eldest had made. He’d been out in London until late entertaining clients the night before but he still got up at 5am to catch the first train home. It was so lovely to see his smiling face early in the morning, even if he did need a significant power nap in the afternoon! The youngest is still in the slightly ‘mute’ mode of mid-teens when he can’t express much other than whatever discomfort is currently besetting him: hunger / tiredness / boredom / poor wifi / slow download times and other elements of teenage malaise but… he had been into town and bought me my favourite floral gum sweets. He knows me well.
And so a wonderful fast-paced weekend ensued. After collecting the eldest we went up to Williamson Park in Lancaster where the Highest Point festival I mentioned was being held. The atmosphere was building as the Royal Wedding was broadcast on big screens.
There was a Mad Hatter’s tea party whilst you watched…
… or gin bars…
… and bands for anyone who felt the wedding was going on a bit too long.
We relaxed on the slopes and Mr MC unpacked a sumptuous picnic…
… the eldest’s day was made when he realised we were all sporting Nike trainers…
… Mr MC and I renewed our vows Vegas style…
… and we spent the afternoon relaxing in the sunshine, listening to music.
The boys left to make their way home and Mr MC and I waited for the evening’s music to start.
I made friends with one of the bands – Y.O.U.N.G. (if you’re wondering what we’re doing it was an ‘M’ for Midlifechic). We’re messing around but I’d just had a really interesting chat with them about their music and they articulated the point I made last week by saying that they wanted to make music for people who refuse to be defined by age. It’s attitude that they care about. Hence the ‘M’ for Midlifechic – I said they could be honorary members of our community.
And the night went on… and so did the music… and the dancing!
It was a slow start the following day and we decided to go out for a lazy lunch before taking the eldest to catch his train back to London again…
… and I was photobombed by said boys…
… and after that we did the train station drop-off (I hate that bit), rushed back home, got changed and went back to the festival for another night of fun. Actually I shouldn’t be laughing because this is where the poor old Lancashire witches were hanged – I don’t know what had tickled me.
Yet again there were bands and discos dotted in different settings around the park…
… climaxing in the utterly brilliant Hacienda Classical which was performed by the 80 piece Manchester Camerata Orchestra along with a gospel choir and the original Hacienda DJs Graeme Park and Mike Pickering. It was stunning… the sight… the sound…the joy of people letting their hair down on a Sunday evening and the coming together of generations as everybody danced and sang.
And as I sit here with my ears still ringing, I want to thank you all for your lovely messages that came in via the comments, emails and various social channels throughout the weekend. Every single one added to my joy.
I feel very lucky – that my birthday fell on a Saturday, that the sun shone, that there was a festival to go to and that for the first time in years, there are no exams clouding our horizon. I’ve even forgiven Meghan, Harry and the Football Association for squatting on my day! I have to head off to London soon and I would give myself that kick up the bum I mentioned but my knees really hurt. 51 year-olds are clearly not designed to dance for two nights in a row and I need a rest… or perhaps I just need more practice…! And with that thought I’ll leave you to have a wonderful week.
Disclosure: ’51st birthday weekends’ is not a sponsored post
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