I’m having a midlife crisis. Not one involving a red sports car, getting a boob job or a man half my age. But one involving time.
In 2014, I turned forty. The same year my hubby turned fifty so we had a joint ‘90’s party. All our friends gathered on our verandah. We had a band and they played Oasis and The Verve. We danced, we drank and we reminisced at a slide show of photographs of us both actually living in the 1990’s. But that party was three years ago. Another of life’s moments moving away from us. Younger friends, including my sister, are turning forty soon and suddenly they seem young.
I feel a sense of unease when this Monday turns into next Monday. It's summer, then winter, then spring, and before I realise it, Christmas puddings are in the supermarket and friends are talking about the Melbourne Cup and New Year's Eve.
In 2007 I turned thirty-three. The perfect combination of maturity and youth but it was also when I finally grew up. It was the year I became pregnant for the first time after our first round of IVF. There, that wasn’t so hard, I thought, as I skipped back to the office after finding out. A manic grin plastered to my face. I’ve never been good at waiting. A bus. A coffee. The kettle to boil. I want it and I want it now. And it seemed I didn’t have to wait any longer.
We’d tried every kind of natural therapy we could get our hands on. Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and reflexology (I can’t stand anybody touching my feet.) No alcohol, no caffeine, no microwaved foods, no fluoride toothpaste, no fun. Sex turned into a chore. Gone were the early months when we presumed every time we did it we were making a baby.
Legs up the wall. Legs down the wall. I took my temperature and diligently filled in a graph. When I handed it to my naturopath, she tut-tutted and nodded, but I had no idea what it meant. The next logical step after countless months of getting my period and sobbing in the toilet at work was IVF. Three capital letters that evoke so much.
The year of growing up continued in August 2007. Hubby and I met up for the 8-week scan. We swanned in, smiled at the receptionist, flicked through magazines and waited to see our baby for the first time. I jumped slightly when the sonographer applied the gel, but we were relaxed and looked at the screen in anticipation of the blurry image soon to appear. Within thirty seconds I knew something was wrong. I gripped hubby’s hand tight.
‘Please hold on a moment,’ she said.
All I remember when she returned is being helped off the bed, my legs no longer could support my body, and my stomach, brain, and heart were on the verge of a major explosion.
My tears dripped onto the linoleum floor and they ushered us to a room reserved for these moments, away from all the expectant happy couples in reception. I sobbed into a growing bunch of tissues and cursed my smug self. I was going to have to learn how to wait.
I’ve stepped into the time machine again. It’s August 2017 and I lean on the bathroom door and watch my two boys – now seven and eight playing their new game in the bath. The game is ‘who can kick each other in the nuts, the hardest.’ Such fun.
We were lucky. We continued going back for more heartache until it worked. I think back to those years when my whole being yearned for a baby. I think about those days when I was convinced it would never be me. But that’s the funny thing about time. It keeps on going on.
Mindfulness and the practice of being in the now have become popular. I’m not one for fads, but they’re certainly onto something. Whether it’s the appreciation of all you have, of good health, the presence of loved ones or gratitude for the small things such as a hot cup of tea on a freezing day. I’m trying to incorporate this but it's not easy is it?
We all have moments when we’ve prayed for time to speed up. Bad dates and bad hangovers, long-haul flights and pointless bureaucratic queues but then, there are those once in a lifetime moments – when you want to repeat the whole thing again and when you want time to crawl on by… very...very slowly and maybe miss you altogether.
The moments you daydream about, for weeks, months, and years after they occur. Landing in a new city, a belly laugh with a friend, your wedding day, the last time you saw someone you loved, the first time you kissed someone you loved, the birth of your children, or when you won something (even if it was the egg and spoon race when you were five years old). Whatever it was, time stopped and implanted the memory in your head. It’s something that’ll hopefully stay there to pull out, look at and enjoy, in full on movie quality until you’re old.
I’m trying to put a halt on my ‘crisis.’ To take a deep breath and to wallow more in this thing called ‘time.’ Because this midlife panic is all about time isn’t it? Time and the lack of it. The memory of everything: the IVF, my parent’s divorce, moving to London, moving to Australia, the death of my first boyfriend, becoming best friends with my sister, climbing Machu Picchu. Whatever it was. Whatever it is. This is it. This is all we’ve got.
Doris Day was spot on.
‘The really frightening thing about middle age is that you know you’ll grow out of it.’
So, maybe I should revert to having a good old mid life crisis after all. Perhaps I’ll go get that boob job. I’ll never get the chance again.