Happily Ever After? Guest Kween: CAITLYN FAIRHEAD

Happily Ever After? Guest Kween: CAITLYN FAIRHEAD

To celebrate #STFTL’s one year anniversary, we’re checking in on some of our favourite Kweens and Kings.

What are these gems up to now? And how much can really change in a year? So…

Happy 1st Birthday #STFTL! I can’t believe it’s been a year. We’ve had some good times, haven’t we? All those mornings reading your posts in bed instead of getting ready for work… I’ve treasured every one. You’re a breath of fresh air out here, girl, and we love you. Keep doing your thing!

When Carmela asked me to write this ‘one year on’ piece, I felt like a bit of a fraud, because very little has changed since this – I’m still very much the mother/wife/teacher/whinger I was a year ago. But I’m a whole year older now, so some things must have changed, surely.

I’m still teaching (it’s going good, thanks for asking), studying (also good), mothering (it’s good/relentless) and I suppose I’ve grown a little bit. I still don’t feel like a grown-up though, it’s like any minute now someone’s going to tap me on the shoulder and ask me to step aside so the real grown-ups can take over.

Has anyone (a child, probably) ever told you they want to be like you when they grow up? I recently had this experience and I’m not going to lie to you, it was a bit of a shock.

Not that a five-year-old might look up to me (she’s five, she doesn’t know any better) but that I’m considered a ‘grown-up’. Not just an adult, someone who has literally ‘grown up’, A GROWN-UP!

I looked at her little face and, after briefly wondering why my own kids don’t say these things to me (note: do not pull at this thread), I chuckled pretty lamely and said something like: “Oh, wow, and I’m not done growing yet!”

I’m willing to concede that at 32, I’m possibly not getting any taller at this point. And I admit I’ve done some grown-up things. I got married and had kids (not necessarily in that order), sometimes I buy the expensive tissues instead of the 99c ones and I know my tax file number by heart. Those seem like grown-up things.

But in lots of ways, I’m nowhere near grown-up. I have the attention span of a goldfish and still have a lot of things I want to achieve. I still run late in the mornings. I think thongs go with everything and I drink the cheapest wine I can stomach. I still don’t know what half the settings on my washing machine do and I can’t do eyeliner to save my life. At best, I’d say I’m en route to being a grown-up, but still a way off.

After some pretty self-indulgent reflection on my part, I think I’m in this weird, in-between stage where I still feel like a young person, but at the same time am bloody glad I’m not one. I guess that cliché about growing old, not growing up, is pretty spot on.

I love that I’m not in my twenties anymore. God, I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life for my thirties. Going to bed when I’m tired! Saying no to things! Making time for myself! Taking risks! Having a career! Being wiser, smarter, sexier (‘cause of the smarts) and not caring what people think of me! (At least, not as much as I used to). It’s bliss. I’d honestly never be a teenager again.

I don’t know if this feeling is unique to me or what, but frankly, I’m really enjoying getting older. Granted, in the scheme of things I’m still young, but so far I’m only getting more comfortable with myself with each passing year.

Wrinkles? Gimme ‘em. Grey hairs? Sure. Retirement? Farkin’ BRING IT. I know, I shouldn’t wish my life away (or my kids’ lives, since I’m supposed to be enjoying every precious moment, woopsee woops), but you can’t bloody tell me Gloria Steinem wasn’t onto something when she said this:

To that little girl who may one day read this (you just never know): don’t worry a damn about growing up, my darling. Eyeliner is hard, girlfriend, and to be honest the cheap wine does the same job. And f*** that washing machine, too. Just enjoy growing older.

Maybe I’ll change my mind when I’m in my seventies, but this growing-up business can go jump. Growing older is where it’s at!

Caitlyn is a thirtyish-year-old teacher with a passion for good books and cheap wine. She has two children and an ever-patient husband, though her true love is Mexican food.

 

Guest Kween: CAITLYN FAIRHEAD “Could These Really Be The Best Days of My Life?”

Guest Kween: CAITLYN FAIRHEAD “Could These Really Be The Best Days of My Life?”

IMG_5326Standing with a trolley full of groceries – half of which I’d never use but felt good about having in the pantry – I grimaced apologetically at the older woman in line behind us. My two year old was biting the trolley in a rage, furious I’d made him return the KitKats he’d swiped while I wasn’t looking, while my four year old twirled in her Elsa cape, shouting ‘Ana darling, don’t forget the tampons!’

The woman looked at my spawn and smiled with the wistful grace of someone who’d been there, done that, and made it out the other side. “It’s the best time of your life, you know,” she said softly, leaning towards me.

I almost keeled over. I love my kids and all, but if this was it, I thought silently, if this was the best life was going to get, then for God’s sake just let me off here.

Is it some kind of Stockholm syndrome, I wondered? Where you come to love your captors even though they torture you with sleep deprivation and covering you in bodily fluids? How do people seemingly forget how exhausting it is to have small children?

Some days it’s hard to get past how tiring it is, how messy and monotonous, requiring the kind of stamina only seen (ironically) in a toddler on birthday cake. It’s frustrating to hear how great this life is when at 27, you look like 70-year-old Elton John on a particularly rough day.

Still, I went home and thought about it. There is something pretty raw and simple about this time in my life. Everyone knows how hard it is, and their expectations of me are gloriously low.

The rules are simple, too, just keep everyone alive and fed and you’re doing a good job. You’re allowed to stay in your PJs all day and cry into a glass of wine at 2pm some days, that’s okay: you’re doing the hard thing. The normal rules don’t apply.

As the wisdom of strangers gently reminds me, this time is fleeting. Probably I won’t always be sleep deprived and covered in bodily fluids. I’ll not always get to smell their hair as they sit in a trolley, or feel their hand in mine as I cross the road.

I’ll not always be in the company of little children everywhere I go, even to the bathroom, and one day I might even miss their little faces as they proudly hold up a boogie in the middle of a shopping mall.

Could these really be the best days of my life? I can’t picture it yet, but I’m willing to concede it’s possible. But only on days they’ve slept through the night, and only when I can shop alone. That seems only fair.

Caitlyn is a thirtyish-year-old teacher with a passion for good books and cheap wine. She has two children and an ever-patient husband, though her true love is Mexican food.