If you had asked me, in my early 20s. Where I thought I would be, by the time I turned 30. I would have said engaged or married, maybe have 2 children and a house that was mine. I had Ethan when I was 21 and graduated from university within 6 weeks of him being born, so that’s where my story began.
I had spent so long, wishing and hoping for those things to become a reality, part of my life story. I think most people have some sort of idea or thoughts about where they will be in 10 years.
Friends got engaged, married, had babies or brought their first homes together. I went to many lovely weddings, engagement parties, hen dos, joint hen/stag dos & house warmings’. At these gatherings, I watched the most amazing people I know, rightfully celebrating life’s huge milestones and achievements.
These people have made such amazing contributions to my life, as well as working their own butts off and going through life’s battles themselves. A small part of me would leave thinking ‘when will it be my turn, I hope I’m as happy as them when that time arrives’.
The questions that were well meant, I began to dread. Normally it would be ‘when are you getting married’ or ‘when are you going to have another baby’. To which I would smile, shrug and redirect the conversation or just simply say ‘I don’t know’. The questions were asked in a playful, friendly way, but for some reason I felt almost defensive about them being asked.
Looking back on those situations, I know that you can never ‘plan’ how your life will look in the future. Sure you can make wish lists or vision boards, but life has the power to change whether you’re ready or not.
My son was a happy surprise and the reason why I was able to pick myself up, dust myself down and figure out a new life for us. I think if I didn’t have him, I probably would have spiralled and life would have taken a lot longer to figure itself out for me.
I found a new home for us, and put all of my energy into focusing on, how it would all impact on Ethan’s life. It took a while for me to catch up and make a start on myself and my happiness. How I did it? I simply started asking myself what ‘I’ wanted my life to be and how ‘I’ wanted it to be.
Aged 29, I started renting, learnt how to pay bills, how to put flat pack furniture together and most importantly… how to catch spiders and set them free! What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger right. I figured those were the ‘hardest’ things to start with. Truthfully, learning to be on my own, be a single mother, who co parented at the weekends, was actually the hardest change to adjust to.
Learning to invest in myself was hard, I had almost ‘forgotten’ who I was as ‘Charlotte’ before I was a girlfriend or mum. I was so focused on Ethan and his ever changing needs, that I almost felt guilty for doing things for myself. Like I was somehow taking away from him, what little time I needed to benefit both of us in the long run.
Day by day, I learn more about myself, what I like and what I don’t like. What I want for myself in life, the sort of person I would like to have in my life one day.
I’ve started exercising and enjoying it, I feel stronger physically and mentally for it… I know who am I right! Pamper afternoons have become a regular thing, something I struggled with years ago. I find myself setting up the bathroom on a Sunday afternoon, with a bath, book and a face mask. I spend a couple of hours relaxing, reading or listening to a podcast and enjoying myself.
Drinking water or more of it, is still a work in progress. But when I remember, I feel great for it.
I have completed courses, to help me get to a point where I know what I want to do for a job. I want to do something that helps others, leaves me with a sense of accomplishment and that brings me joy. Being a teaching assistant is the end goal for me, I have had so much experience through Ethan, with his teaching assistants and I love what they do for all children, especially those with additional needs.
I’m at the stage in my life, where I feel like I’m in control of where my life goes. Only I can change it for the better and only I am responsible for my happiness, no one else. My main focus, when I’m not making my life better, is looking after Ethan, making sure he’s living a happy life, and has all that he needs. The balance has changed, for the better, it includes myself as much as Ethan.
My friendships are amazing, I couldn’t ask for better friends. They have been so present in the last couple of years.. when I have needed it most.
Now 30 is here, and you know what?
I’m happy, I feel grateful for just how strong life has made me, these last few years. If someone asked me now, where I thought I’d be at 30.. the simple answer is, I don’t know. But I’m happy about that, life is a bit like the ending of a really good book. Why would I want to cut straight to the last page, and ruin the mystery of what’s coming.
Sure, I have hopes and dreams, but I have to trust that life has even more amazing plans in store for me. I cant always be in control of everything, scary, yes but so exciting and nerve wracking at times.
Who knows where my 30’s will take me, but I’m ready for the journey.