Tuesday, March 01, 2011

When I Was 35

From where I stand now, 35 doesn’t seem so very far away. A short stretch across the plateau of family life, surely not much has changed in the intervening 10 years? Reading Charlotte’s post on her life at 35 and casting my mind back, I was surprised to discover how much has changed in my life since then. Even more surprised when I read her post of several years ago about being 25 and found that I'd followed her lead that time too and written a post about my life when I was 25. So much I had forgotten about. Thanks Charlotte for setting me off on a nostalgic voyage of re-discovery once again!

When I was 35 I was adjusting to having two children, our new baby daughter having just joined our two year-old son. I was busy learning the tactics of diplomacy, compromise and negotiation. I learned to read aloud as I breast fed and survive on very little sleep, as our son had conveniently given up day-time napping, just as his sister came along.

When I was 35 we lived in a tiny two bedroom house in South London with a pocket handkerchief garden. We’d spent four months living in South Africa the previous year, but had returned to London try and make sure that our business would support us when we moved for real. We still thought we could keep a foot in both worlds. Two years later, we moved to South Africa anyway and plunged in with both feet. Now we’re living in a spacious straw bale house that is the opposite of our London house in almost every way.

When I was 35 I was finding out what it was really like to be a stay at home mum to two small children. When our son was a baby we’d lived in the photographic studio that was both home and work, and there was always someone around to hold the baby, if I wanted to go to the loo or cook a meal. My husband was usually around, even when working and our baby son was happy to be handed around a group of admiring photographer’s assistants.  Living in a house a commute away from the studio, there was just me and two kids for most of the day. I had to find my own resources and quite often my husband would arrive home to find me slumped on the sofa with a howling child on each side of me, as I let the afternoon meltdown run its course.

When I was 35 the toddler groups at the local Waldorf school were a regular weekly outing, a necessary escape from the house. I didn’t then know that my kids would end up going to a Waldorf school themselves, but I loved the wooden toys, crafts, natural fabrics and friendly atmosphere.

When I was 35 I bought organic products from Sainsbury’s and Tesco. I could get organic flour and organic everything for very little more in price than the regular products. Fair trade chocolate slipped into the trolley every so often too. Then we moved to SA and to my dismay I could hardly find any organic products on the shelves of supermarkets. It took me a while to figure out alternatives over here, and even longer to realise that even better than buying organic would be growing our own  organic produce.We're still a long way from being self-sufficient but enjoy harvesting tomatoes, guavas, almonds, strawberries and veggies.

When I was 35 I had still never cooked a Sunday roast. We had Sunday lunch whenever we visited my parents in the country once a month or so. In South Africa my mother’s Sunday roasts were no longer within reach, so I finally learned to cook my own and now we have them almost every Sunday, except in summer when the very idea brings me out in a sweat.

When I was 35 my life not only revolved around my children but was absorbed completely in their whirlwind. Now my life still revolves around them, but there is a calm space in the middle of the whirlwind, where I can work and write and occasionally imagine that I am separate from them.

When I was 35 jeans and a black Gap rib jumper with a Burberry sheepskin waistcoat were my winter uniform. The Gap jumper is getting a bit holey now, and I’ve bought new jeans since then but I’m effectively still wearing the same winter clothes as then and that warm waistcoat has survived remarkably well – to whoever left it behind in our photographic studio all those years ago, I am eternally grateful!

When I was 35 I developed strong arm muscles from pushing a three wheel buggy up and down the steep hills to the local park near our house. I probably got far more exercise then than I do now, as walking was the easiest way to get out of the house. Now I manage to keep my arm muscles strong by kneading bread dough every other day.

When I was 35 I had never even considered writing for either work or fun. I read avidly as I always had done, and collected books for my kids to read one day, but was too much in awe of writers and their expert weaving of words into enthralling stories to even dream of becoming one myself. Now I write for work and fun, but am still nowhere near writing the stories that I love reading so much.

When I was 35 I was just starting to discover homeopathy and other alternative medicine. I liked the practical stuff,  but crystals, reiki, past lives, angels and such like were way out of my comfort zone. Now I’m getting comfortable with all that woo-woo stuff and discovering a spiritual side of me that I didn’t think was there.

When I was 35 I had never heard of blogging. I made new friends who lived close by and had toddlers and babies to share play dates with. Now I have new blog friends on the other side of the world and blogging is the social lifeline that toddler play dates once were.

When I was 35 my garden an outdoor space with a clothes line and a few small trees hopefully planted. I never really got to grips with it. Now at 45 I finally have a successful herb garden much to my own surprise.

What were you doing when you were 35? This isn't a meme, but let me know if you are inspired to join in the retrospective!


  1. Wow - our lives are so very different. When I was 35 I wasn't even married yet! I was a flight attendant for USAir, living in an apartment in Charlotte, NC.

    I reconnected with a guy I had been very good friends with 8 years earlier, in the police academy, and we immediately realized we were meant to be...

    When I was 36, we got married! 8-)

  2. Lovely post! Isn't it amazing how blogging connects? I love what you say about finding that still quiet centre in the middle of the storm of raising children - I have that too and I love it.

  3. We are the same age and I thank you for suggesting we reflect.
    Hmn.... when I was 35

    The year started with great hope and possibilities due to a pregnancy, but those hopes were dashed by a miscarriage and its aftermath. Now at 45 I'm the mother of two beautiful and wonderful little girls.

    At 35 we were in the second year of our cooking school; however, I was still too uncomfortable in my own skin to lead the group in tours and discussion. Now I'm the one who talks about the "fun food facts" and introduces our students to our fabulous food fanatics.

    At 35 I was still finding myself, never believing that I had much to contribute. At 45 I write for our own blog as well as a number of magazines and the Huffington Post, in addition i've started working part time as a communication and program coordinator at a local non-profit.

    At 35 I was concerned that I would never be good enough, at 45 I'm content to be....

    So far, 45 has been year of hectic satisfaction.... hopefully during it I can find some balance. Thank you for giving me the chance to reflect.

  4. For me remembering being 35 is like looking through a telescope the wrong way - its 27 years ago!

    THEN I was living in north London with a seven year old son and four year old daughter. My husband and I were building up our business and the dining room table was our office. Mobile phones didn't exist. My computer was one of the first Amstrads - it used MS-DOS, Microsoft wasn't available until the following year.
    Thatwas the year I was appointed as a magistrate in Inner London, and I started my first court sittings in Bow Street (think Bow Street Runners)in Covent Garden - the court house is now a boutique hotel!!
    I was at least 3 stone lighter than I am now. My retinas were in sound working order. My worst health problems were the very occasional cold.

    NOW I am over 60, I live in Beijing, I am learning to speak a new language, and feel my way round a very different culture. I have survived various challenging health problems. I am still married to the same man as I was then, and we are as happy as we were all those years ago - possibly even happier. My kids are grown up and I have a son-in-law. I am on my second blog (my first one was blocked in China). There is a lot to be said for the sun-lit uplands of life when your children have flown the nest and you return to coupledom again!
    Maybe I am approaching my prime, I'll let you know when I get there.

  5. I loved reading this post. When I was 35, I was about at the same spot in life as you were. I had a two year old and a baby and we lived in an apartment (near Cannes). I wished I'd have had blogging as a social outlet back then, I was pretty isolated. I'd stopped working to take care of my kids and had big arm muscles from pushing the stroller up the hill we lived on, too. I am going to try and get a good herb garden going this summer!

  6. Hi Kit, things were similar for me at 35 as well. I'd just had Sally (my last). Thanks for sharing the memories x

  7. Thanks everyone for sharing your 35s. It's great to hear similar and very differenct experiences.
    And thanks Charlotte for the writing prompt, it's nice to have a little introspective break in the middle of moving forwards.

  8. Um.... are you going to be 75 before you put up another post? Just saying... I miss you! 8-)

  9. Hey Kit - here's hoping you're not going to be 45 before you post again. Just saying.


  10. Wow--it's amazing how life changes, and more amazing how we don't often realize that it will change so dramatically. I haven't made it to 35 yet myself, but I often do think about where I was when I was 25, and I reflect on it in a very similar way.

  11. So, Marcheline, I have finally managed to post again at the ripe old age of 45... 75 I can't guarantee I'll still be blogging - but who knows!

  12. When I was 35 I was already living in London ( a fact which I would have scoffed at had you predicted this when I was 25); I had just lost my mom; I had just started a job at the law firm where I still work; it was the year I started my blog (who knew where THAT would lead!); and I was living in a rented house with which I would still put up for another five long years before we too stopped pretending we had a foot in each country and bought a place in London :)

    And scarily, I believe I remember BOTH you and Charlotte's "when I was 25" posts!! :))


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!