Growing pains

Occasionally there are days or weeks when I lose all sense of flow and this week has been one of them. Within the last fortnight there have been three week-day public holidays. It seems that the last two weeks have been frustratingly stop/start, and, in my house at least, we’ve all lost our rhythm. In addition, with the summer break tantalisingly close, but still not quite within reach, our nerves are slightly ragged around the edges to say the least.

In moments such as these, it’s all too easy to become caught up in a negative downward spiral, focusing on all that’s not quite right. I’m ashamed to admit that by last night my world view was on a par with my 8 year old at her most petulant. And that’s not a good look when you’re 46.

It’s at times like these that I wonder if it isn’t my rapidly changing offspring that are suffering growing pains, but me. My thoughts became ridiculously self-obsessed and adolescent in tone by bedtime last night and I found myself wondering just how much Botox Jennifer Aniston has had on the back of watching ‘Murder Mystery‘ on Netflix with the kids. And should I get my middle-aged teeth whitened? And how much longer will it be before my hair turns completely grey, rendering my periodic blonde highlighting completely redundant? I suspect I’m in the throes of a midlife crisis.

All this and yet I know I’m not quite terminally geriatric. Not that long ago I took a tumble on one of Lisbon’s cobbled pavements, which become glacially slippery in the heat of summer. Embarrassingly, I was dashing to catch a glimpse of the Portuguese football team (OK, specifically Cristiano Ronaldo) who were touring the city in open-topped double-decker buses after their victory in the Euro. In my haste not to miss their drive-by, I managed to slip and land, much in the style of a jubilant Cristiano, on my knees. Unfortunately my final hands and knees resting position was not quite as graceful as Ronaldo’s. A kindly passer-by was sufficiently alarmed to offer her assistance. Whether it was as a result of shock or sheer mortification, I was able to dust myself down and scuttle off down the road in time to observe Cristiano et al in all their glory, despite feeling mildly annoyed about the small tear in the knee of my work trousers.

I thought I’d got away with it until the following morning. Unable to bend my right knee, I quickly realised that I wouldn’t be able to get ready for work, let alone stride to the metro station to get there. It seemed wise to have my injury checked out and having passed through triage at Lisbon’s university hospital, I pitched up in the Radiology department. Surrounded by several elderly ladies in wheelchairs, probably with suspected broken hips, I felt quite the spring chicken. This notion was reinforced by the technician who ushered me in for my x-ray: “Então jovem?” (So what’s the matter young lady?). For a nanosecond I felt positively youthful – but it’s all about context – until my very sore, but not broken, knee reminded me otherwise. At least my hips – and knees – had survived my fall in tact.

Although I haven’t quite fallen victim to brittle bones, subtle reminders that life is moving on are constantly with me. Fall or no fall, swollen, uncomfortable feet have led me to abandon my vertiginous wedged sandals in high summer. What next? Dr Scholl’s? I’ve found myself enjoying a podcast entitled “Fortunately” hosted by Radio 4 doyennes Jane Garvey and Fi Glover. It’s very Radio 4 and seemingly aimed at a demographic in need of control pants and HRT and possibly at risk of stress incontinence. I’m not quite there yet, but can almost visualise a time when I might be…..

I can only conclude that the swift march of time is leaving me feeling a little vulnerable. According to Brené Brown, vulnerability opens oneself up to whole-hearted living, which I must admit seems very appealing. Despite this, there is a question mark over how whole-heartedly I will be sporting my bikini at the beach this year. Meanwhile, I will console myself with the notion that my current introspection and discombobulation are not growing pains at all – but instead a space for me to grow and grow up….before I grow old.

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